I’m 28 and I tend to say that I am the only child. Not because it’s true, but because saying I lost my brother in a terrible accident when I was six is not something I want to share right away.
We were not really close, 10 years of age difference probably had something to do with it. We lived separate lives. He was at school, I was at kindergarten. Sometimes my parents would throw me at him just so I wasn’t wandering around the street alone. I’d stick to him and his friends, witness their first experience smoking, playing hide-and-seek. I could hide for a while since nobody really wanted to look for me.
He was 16 and needed some check-ups. The hospital in our tiny little town could not do those, so my brother and parents had to go to the city. It was winter and icy roads were not safe.
My father is a good driver but sometimes even the best of us make mistakes.
They left me with their friends, who also had a 4-year-old, so I wasn’t alone, I had fun. At around 8 p.m., we got a call. I could see the color draining from the wife’s face. She passed the phone to her husband and I heard something about the hospital.
They said there was an accident and dad was coming home to get me. I was surprised. Why only dad? Where were mom and Andrew? I did not ask questions, I was quiet and just waited for my father to come and take me home. We lived in the same apartment building, and the first thing he did when we entered our apartment was to make a call. He said he needed a casket.
My question was, why? And the answer was very simple—my brother had died.
I remember that I only shed a tear before going to bed, the realization of what exactly happened did not come to me. I was not allowed to go to the funeral. So I was back with that family again for a few days.
When I came home, my granny was there and my mother was back from the hospital. She had a horrible scar right across her forehead. It took me some time to realize it was indeed my mom. Someone had to actually make me go and hug her. I could not grasp the idea that my mother could look like that.
I don’t think I think I was grieving. For a 6-year-old, it’s pretty difficult to understand loss. First, you don’t think it’s for real, then you’re kind of bored that everyone is still upset, and then you just move on.
Life is very fast when you’re little.
Of course, it affected me. My parents became 10 times more strict and overprotective than before. I could no longer play till dark in the yard, have sleepovers, and later parties were forbidden. I was raging. It wasn’t completely uncalled for, but I was still so angry that I was the one to pay for what happened. Or, at least, I thought so.
I had a baby last year. The entire pregnancy and birthing experience was great. I was fortunate to avoid morning sickness, weight gain, and even heartburn. It came almost too easily.
I enjoyed being a mom and wasn’t thinking about anything bad. Until one night.
My baby was one month old, and we put him to sleep and went to have dinner in the kitchen. We talked and laughed, and then I went back into the bedroom to check on my boy. He wasn’t breathing.
I think I died a little bit there. I remember how at first I couldn’t even call my husband because no sound would come out of me. Then I just screamed, “He’s not breathing!” My husband ran into the room and started shaking the baby vigorously. Until he woke up.
Little did I know, babies can sleep so deeply and breathe so lightly it almost seems like they’re not breathing at all.
I sat on the floor there and just cried.
That night I finally realized that I only had a baby for one month. He wasn’t yet talking to me, I didn’t know his personality, and didn’t share any important moments with him. Yet, when I thought something had happened to him, it almost killed me.
So, what did my mom feel when her baby—her 16-year-old, wonderful, polite, intelligent boy—was no longer with her? I don’t know how she survived that. She’s the strongest woman I know and since then, I never laugh at her being overprotective or wanting to know where I am at 9 p.m.
It’s horrible when something happens to our kids; it simply shouldn’t happen. It’s silly to hope for nobody else to experience such devastation and pain. I’m just hoping we all do everything to make the lives of our babies better, happier, and to be happy with them.