So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Anytime I hear of a child passing away, it is like a punch to the gut. Sometimes I can look it in the face and read a fellow mom’s tragic story, and other times I have to click away because I just can’t go there. Last night I read the story of fellow mom Cassandra Free as she shared the tragic cause of her 9-year-old son Andy’s death. I didn’t look away, though it was hard because I also have a 9-year-old son. I didn’t look away because I knew the story of Andy’s death will save other lives. That is why Cassandra shared it, and why I felt compelled to share it with you.

In her now-viral Facebook post dated August 28th, this heartbroken mom says her family hadn’t shared the details of Andy’s June 6th death until now because “we hadn’t been fully willing to publicly share until we had autopsy answers.”

While Andy’s death had been reported as a drowning, the family now has confirmation that it was actually caused by open-air carbon monoxide poisoning from the family’s boat.

If you’re like me, you just said, “What?” when you read that. Open-air carbon monoxide poisoning? I had no idea that could even happen. Tragically, neither did the Free family. After losing their beautiful son, they have made it their mission to make sure other families are aware of this deadly, silent force that can happen outdoors, particularly on motor-powered watercraft.

RELATED: 10 Water Safety Tips From a Mom Who Investigates Drownings

Andy’s death was first thought to be by drowning because he fell asleep on the family’s boat and then slipped off into the water, but his mom says he was a strong swimmer and never woke up or tried to swim, so they suspected something else was wrong. She goes on to say in her post:

“His brothers were treated that night at St. Francis for ‘Acute Carbon Monoxide poisoning.’ Andrew has been swimming since he was two years old—he was a STRONG swimmer—and yet he didn’t even struggle. Now we know why.

“His COHb was 72 percent. His so-called ‘drowning’ was secondary to the fact that he never would have lived at that level. What does that mean? It means Andrew was not going to live regardless of what happened next. He was at the back of our Malibu Skier most of the day. Boats, even moving, create a backdraft of exhaust. That’s right. Exactly what I’ve typed: carbon monoxide exits the rear of the boat and drafts right back into the back of the boat.

“Backseat riders are especially vulnerable at low speeds and in long no-wake zones like the one we had to cross to return to the docks.”

Moms, if you are like me, you had NO idea this kind of carbon monoxide poisoning is even possible.

Cassandra continued, “I didn’t know this. No one I know knew this. It’s called ‘open-air carbon monoxide poisoning. Another friend looked into this and found that it can happen on other recreational vehicles like 4-wheelers.”

Because she didn’t know that open-air carbon monoxide poisoning existed, Cassandra Free attributed Andy’s symptoms to a long day on the water—as we all would have. She says:

“Our little Andy, our Dude, was probably slowly dying that afternoon/evening and we didn’t know it. He would’ve been tired. His head would’ve started to hurt. Sounds like too much sun after a long, physically draining day of wakeboarding, wake surfing, and tubing.”

You guys, this breaks my heart into a MILLION pieces. If you use motorized watercraft or ATVs, please be aware of this danger. Keep your little ones on parts of the boat that are farther from the engine, especially in calm waters. And please, please share this information with anyone you know who does. Andy’s mom ended her Facebook post with a plea for you to do just that.

“Don’t let Andy’s death be in vain, ” she says. “Educate yourself, and your friends and family. I do not want anyone else ever to experience what I am going through.

“I’m begging you, please share this!”

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.
 

Memories Fill the Holes in Their Hearts Where a Grandpa’s Love Should Be

In: Grief
Drawing, journal, and photo of man, color photo

“Girls, come here for a minute.” In some sort of yearly ritual, I guide my oldest two daughters to my bedroom, where a wooden chest sits. It’s painted in flowers of muted colors and has a brass keyhole on it, making it look like an antique. It isn’t. It’s only 20 years old. As my girls follow me into my room, I grab the skeleton key off my dresser that unlocks the wooden chest. I turn the key and open the wooden box that holds so many pieces that are supposed to remind me of my dad.  Pictures of him....

Keep Reading

The Calls Stopped When the Casket Closed

In: Grief
Father and toddler walking in cemetery, color photo

The night my mother died is raw. It was filled with a lot of emotions: anger, regret, sadness, guilt, and remorse. The next day, I woke up to multiple calls, text messages, posts on my Facebook wall, and Facebook messages. It was a flood. The flood soon turned into a drought. Before I could process what happened the night before, people were sending flowers, the funeral home was calling, and people were showing up at my door. The next two days there was an influx of people in and out of my house and a lot of food. But the...

Keep Reading

Losing a Child Changes Everything

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman at beach sunset

I‘ve had my life planned out since I was a teenager. My dreams were to be a teacher, wife, and mom in that order. I would teach elementary school and have the cutest classroom with the greatest lessons, and I’d teach until I was old and retired. The man of my dreams would sweep me off my feet in college, and we’d have a romantic wedding and start our great life together. Then, after a few years, we would have two children, a boy and a girl. We would be a blissfully boring, happy little family.  I didn’t want extravagant...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Lasts Forever

In: Grief, Grown Children, Motherhood
Silhouette mother and daughter

She was so pretty. So pretty it was hard to look away from that porcelain skin, those high cheekbones, stunning green eyes with just the right amount of sparkle and depth, and shiny black hair. And those lips, perfectly plump with neatly applied lipstick, always ready to give a kiss on the cheek or a knowing smile. More than pretty, she was beautiful—you know, beautiful inside and out. She was classy. Not fancy or prim and proper, not snobby—just classy. A certain air about her that made you notice and appreciate her presence when she walked into the room. She...

Keep Reading

Thumbprint Glasses and a Lifetime of Love

In: Grief, Motherhood
Broken thumbprint glass on floor, color photo

Yesterday my Nannie’s glass was shattered, intentionally thrown across the room by a child of mine. My heart shattered with it for that glass held memories. When we visited my Nannie in Florida, I would wake with the sun to the aroma of fresh eggs, bacon, and grits. I would stumble into her bright yellow kitchen. The counters always cluttered, the small white table nicely set, and the glasses full of orange juice. “Thumbprint glasses,” I called them. I would put my tiny thumb into the imprint of each beautiful dent and admire the rainbows the iridescent glass made. That...

Keep Reading

Some Babies Are Held Only in a Mother’s Heart

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound of baby

“Whatever may come and whatever may pass, we have faith that our God will bring us to it and through it.” That’s what I wrote in a post after we announced our third pregnancy. It was the first pregnancy we went public with, but it was the third time we had two positive lines on a pregnancy test. You see, we had miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. We went from surprised optimism to guarded yearning and finally stolen joy. The first baby was nothing more than a what-if before that test. It was a surprise to two people who loved...

Keep Reading

My Birthday Will Never Be the Same without My Mother

In: Grief
Mother and two daughters, older color photo

It’s been eight months since my mom took her last breath on earth and entered into her eternal resting place. Eight, long, motherless months. I expected holidays to be hard, as they should, because a piece of the family is missing. The spot where they once sat, ate, laughed, took pictures, and made memories is now empty. Just like a piece of my heart is empty. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose My Mom the Day She Died The holiday no one prepared me for was my birthday. A day that’s to be celebrated. It’s the day I took my first...

Keep Reading

Dear Mom, I Miss You

In: Faith, Grief
Grown woman and her mother, color photo

Dear Mom, Yesterday I went over to your house. I was hoping you would open the door, but Daddy greeted me with his sweet smile. Yes, he still has a mustache. The one you hate, but I did manage to trim it up for him. I cut his hair too.   We talked about you over coffee and waited for you to join us, but you never did. He’s doing his best to do this life without you in it, but his eyes are clouded with memories and mixed with pain. He misses you, Momma. RELATED: I Didn’t Just Lose...

Keep Reading

Mom, You Were There for All My Firsts…Except This One

In: Grief
Sad woman looking out window

Firsts are monumental. Inaugural. Annual. They say you always remember the milestones, the annuals, the inaugurals.  You were there for those firsts during my first few years of life: my first tooth, first steps, first boo-boo. Always supporting me. Always cheering me on. When I grew up, you stood by me for the next wave of firsts: my first bad grade, my first heartbreak, the first fight with friends, my first solo in choir, my first stitches.  You stayed by my side during the pain from your divorce and dried my tears when Dad moved out. You even loved me...

Keep Reading

I Wanted to Call You Last Night, Dad

In: Grief, Grown Children
Woman sitting on dock alone by lake

I went to call you last night. I was sitting in my room, watching grown men play a child’s game. Alone. And when the last out was registered, in an improbable no-hitter, I needed to share my delight. I wanted to call you. But I couldn’t. Since you left, a mere 18 months ago, there have been many moments, when I have wanted to call. To say, hello, to ask for advice, to share good news, and bad. To discuss world events or shoot the breeze. To hear your corny jokes and lift your spirits. Or have you lift mine....

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime