Friday, November 4, 2016. Our son, named Cameron by the way (I realized I have never shared his name before), woke up screaming at 3 am. He had been having a really tough few weeks, spending 18 days in the ICU with a fungal pneumonia and being hooked up to oxygen and a c-pap machine. Most nights he woke up crying because he hated the mask. This was the same in the early hours of November 4th. Cam woke up, crying and screaming about his mask. Nurses came in to help us figure out how to help him feel better. Because he was on constant oxygen, he was also hooked up to a machine that read his heart rate and blood oxygen levels. This machine kept beeping. His heart rate kept rising and his oxygen levels kept lowering. The nurses kept raising the oxygen levels, giving medications to help his heart rate and to help his pain control. No one slept that night and Cam was scared. By 9 am, after six straight hours of trying to get the situation under control, the doctors and nurses came in to talk to me. They told me what I already feared. That they were out of options to try to save him and my son was dying.
Those words hit like a tun of bricks. My son, my beautiful sweet Cameron, was running out of time. In this moment, his whole life flashed before me. I saw his first smile, saw him say "mama" and "dada" for the first time, saw him walk and play. I saw him showing his father every autobot ever made and teach him how each one worked. I saw him loving his family and friends. I saw him being incredibly strong for each poke, each test, each chemo treatment and each radiation. I saw him, so wise beyond his years, laying next to me in the bed. I asked him if he was scared and he nodded. My heart broke. I tried so hard to find a way to take his fear away from him. The only thing I could come up with, while holding back my own fear and tears, was to pick him up and hold him. I asked him if I could and he nodded. I carefully picked up my sweet 4 year old and held him. I held him and rocked him and talked to him. I told him how much Mommy and Daddy loved him. How proud and honored we were to be his parents. How incredibly brave and strong he was throughout his five month battle with cancer. How much we would miss him but promised that we would someday be ok. I told him it was ok to let go. That he'd done everything he was put on this beautiful earth to do. I held him, and rocked him and loved him with everything I had. I kissed his beautiful bald head, held on to his hand and tried to sing him our song as he slowly closed his eyes. At 11:30 am, on November 4th, our son took his last breath in my arms.
The days that followed are a bit of a blur. Our families had flown or driven into town to support us. We held a visitation and funeral. We had our baby cremated. We waited so impatiently to be able to bring him home. Being a military family, we couldn't bear the idea of burying him and leaving him behind when the next posting message arrived. So we brought him home. It felt right to keep him home with us. Somehow it took a small amount of the pain away. My husband and I (with the help of my mom and stepdad) cleaned up all of Cam's toys and home school things. We carefully packed everything in boxes to be stored. Packing up the things that brought him so much joy and gave him such an imaginative outlet felt impossible. How do you take all of these physical reminders of your child and pack them away? But we didn't know what else to do.
Tomorrow it will be 18 weeks (126 days) since our Cam passed away. We have tried to move on with life and honor our son as best we can. We talk about him to anyone who who will listen. We look at his photos and watch his videos. We sit in his room (which was left untouched) and talk to him. We search everyday for signs that he may be here with us in some spiritual way. We have cried, we have yelled, we have wondered why this had to happen to our son, to us, to our family. We have asked ourselves how we could have caught the tumor sooner, what we could have done differently with the treatment. We have questioned our parenting and our time spent with our son. We have blamed ourselves for what happened to our child. We have begged ourselves and each other for forgiveness for something that was completely out of our control.
One of my coworkers recently asked me what the hardest part of this is. At the time, I told her it was grief coming in waves. Coming when we would least expect it. Since she asked me, I have been thinking it over. The waves of grief are hard, yes. But the pain of knowing my son is gone and I will never get to hear his voice, hold his hand or play with him again is harder. Knowing the my son will be forever 4 years old is harder. Never getting to watch him grow up and become a pilot. Wondering what he would have been like in school, who his friends would have been, what activities he would have chosen to be involved in is harder. Never getting to see him graduate from high school, fall in love, get married and become a father is harder. Knowing that his life is forever frozen, 4 short years after it began.
Mommy and Daddy love you Cam- to the moon and back and all the stars.
February 16, 2012- November 4, 2016