Week 35

Forever In My Heart Friday FIMHF Week 35. So as were driving to Exploration Place Wednesday Corban inquires “Is it true that people can go to sleep, never wake up, and die?” I respond, “Not normally. Only if they are really sick and their bodies shut down.” I should have seen where this was going. He then asks, “So is that what happened to Myesha?” I catch my breath for a moment, as I often have to do when these question arise. “Yes kind of. Myesha had that surgery on her ankle and it got infected. It made her really sick and even though the doctor’s tried to fix it, it was too late and the infection moved all through her body. She was not strong enough to continue to fight the infection.” He responded quickly, yet perplexed, “So why didn’t someone tell Myesha that if she went to sleep that she wasn’t going to wake up and that she would die?” I feel my heart sinking lower and lower into my chest. “Because Corban, Myesha didn’t know that she was not going to wake up. She was very tired and her body just couldn’t handle it anymore. God knew she was in a lot of pain and he doesn’t like to see us in pain, so he felt like it was time to take her to Heaven where she wouldn’t be in pain anymore.” He asked no more questions and starred quietly out the window towards the sky.
July 16, 2015, about 1 hour prior to surgery. I’m standing next to Myesha who is now lying in her bed in the ICU, providing comforting words prior to surgery, when my cell phone rings. It’s Corban. “Hey Mommy! How is Myesha?” “She’s doing good son. She’s getting ready to go to surgery soon. Do you want to talk to her?” I ask. “Yes!” he quickly answers. I put him on speaker phone and hold the phone next to Myesha, “Hey bubby!” “Hi Myesha. How are you doing?” you can hear the excitement in his voice. “I’m doing good. What are you doing?” she asks. Corban proceeds to chitter chattered on and on, “Well I lost a tooth this morning!! I pulled it all out by myself! I didn’t even have to have Melanie do it for me! But I got blood all over the bathroom.” Myesha smiles, “Well that’s good! That means the Tooth Fairy is going to come see you tonight!” she says. Corban responds, “I know!” Then I see her look at me and look back at the phone. “Hey bubby, I’m really sorry, but I’m probably not going to make it to your birthday party Saturday. The doctor’s said I will probably have to stay in the hospital for a couple of days until I get better. But I promise that I will make it up to you, okay?” The silence on the phone was brief, “Okay….well we can always just wait until you get out and then just have my birthday party then, okay!” he proposed. “Okay.” she says. “Well I have to get off the phone now but I you have fun swimming today with Trin and Emma and Chloe, okay! I love you!” He replies, “Okay, I will. I love you too!” That was the last time Corban ever spoke to his sister Myesha.
My son not only lost his sister the day before his originally scheduled birthday party that we had to cancel, but 3 days prior to his 7th birthday. A birthday he will never forget. A birthday where the inflatable water slide that I put up and prepared earlier that week for his party would end up staying there in the backyard for weeks, until I finally took it down and just put it in the trash. A slide that I spent hundreds of dollars on that my children shared so many memories on, so much laughter, every summer. A waterslide that had now left a huge bare spot in the backyard where the grass died and has yet to regrow back to this day.
I will never forget leaving Myesha in that hospital after she died. Leaving her in that hospital bed lifeless. Her body now getting cold. Her fingers and hands that I held so tightly for hours, cold. Her cheeks that I caressed with my fingers, cold. I attempted multiple times to leave after several hours had passed. I would say my goodbyes, kiss her, stroke her hair, lay across her body, hold her, love her, sing to her, talk to her. But I just couldn’t leave my baby there. I would no sooner walk out in the hallway, then to turn around and go right back in. Only to repeat the whole process all over again.
The final walk down the hospital corridor to the exit seemed longer than ever. All I had to take with me was 2 hospital bags left of her belongings. Chloe’s fingers locked in mine as we walked side by side slowly and quietly. The nurses and staff around us hung their heads down. It was as if you could feel the darkness of death encompassing everyone. I had to stop several times during that walk of “it’s over, she’s gone”, because I just wanted to turn around and go back. Chloe didn’t want to leave either. We pressed on through the manual revolving doors. It was dark outside now. By the time we got to the parking lot, Chloe collapsed on the pavement. Grief and sadness had overcome her and all I could do was stand there and look at her. Death and shock had officially struck us both. I eventually pulled her off the ground and we made our way to the van. As I sat in the backseat I stared out the window. I looked down at the two green bags next to me. “She’s gone. She’s really gone.” The tears welled up in my eyes and made the street lights seem like blurs of dingy yellow lights in the night sky. Then it hit me. How am I going to go home and tell Corban that his sister was dead? That she wasn’t coming home. That she would not only be absent from his birthday party, but that she would never celebrate another birthday with us again. Ever!
By the time I got home I was physically tired. I was emotional and mentally exhausted. Corban was anxiously waiting for us downstairs. He came bounding up the stairs when he heard us walk in the door. “Where’s Myesha. Is she still at the hospital? When is she coming home?” He blurted out. I just looked at him. My face felt numb at this point from crying. The look on my face I’m sure was nothing short of expressionless. “She’s still at the hospital Corban. No she’s not coming home tonight. But Mommy is really tired so we will talk more tomorrow, okay.” I suggested. “Okay.” He spat and ran back downstairs to his game. I couldn’t do it. Not tonight anyways. I walked up to my room and collapsed on my bed. As much as I tried to hold it in, my emotions came out like an uproar from my throat in the form of a silent scream in my pillow. The salty beads of tears started falling down one after another, with no signs of stopping. Releasing all of my sadness and sorrow. How was I going to do this??
The next morning when Corban finally woke up I called him into my room. I pulled him in bed with me and just held him and snuggled with him as we do every morning. My mind was racing. My thoughts scattered all over the place like seeds in the wind. Where do I even start? What will he understand? “Corban, I need to talk to you about Myesha.” He sat up and looked over at me. I sat up and held his hands in mine. “Remember how I told you Myesha got really sick because of her ankle surgery. Well it made her so sick that her body just couldn’t fight anymore and she got very tired. God knew how tired she was and he didn’t want her to be in anymore pain so he sent his Angel’s to take her to Heaven.” The look on his face was one of bewilderment. “So she’s not coming home? She’s not coming back?” he stuttered. “No honey, she’s not.” I sighed. “So can I go to the hospital and see her? Is she still there? Where is her body?” he pleaded. “Her body is still here on Earth but her soul is now in Heaven. So no honey, you can’t go see her again. I’m sorry baby.” I sobbed. His face. The look on his face. So confused. So lost. “So she’s not coming to my birthday party??” he asked quietly. “No honey, I’m sorry she’s not.” I said. “But I’m going to miss her.” he sniffled and hung his head down. “I’m going to miss her too baby…”
Myesha was never going to walk through the door again. Corban’s oldest sister was gone. Like his sister, Chloe, he didn’t even get to say goodbye. Siblings are the forgotten griever, but the pain is very real and intense. This type of guilt is often referred to as sibling survivor guilt and can take many forms. Guilt that they have a chance to live their lives, but their sibling does not. Not being there when she died or not appreciating the time they had together while they had it. All aspects of their lives are affected. Their health, behavior, schoolwork, self-esteem, and development. They will now respond to the death of their sister with a wide range of feelings, from anger, to grief, to frustration. Left feel helpless or even hopeless.
Intensified guilt is another likely emotion in children concerning a sibling’s death. Children in particular are likely to feel guilty because they don’t understand or comprehend the reasons for death. They may feel adrift and lonely. They may give up, not enjoy life or, in extreme cases, feel they want to join the sibling and think about their own death. As in Corban’s case. He often remarks that he too “Wishes he was dead” or says that he just wants to “go to The Heaven’s”. He may say this in times that he is feeling emotional, or just missing Myesha. Or in times of frustration when Chloe would get onto him he would yell back at her, ”I wish Myesha was here right now because she wouldn’t let you yell at me like this!” Not only is he now feeling lost in his own emotions and grief, but he has struck a painful chord with Chloe. These are the times that as a parent, I find difficult to manage. To find the right words to say to make him understand that even though I know he’s hurting, it’s not fair to take that hurt out on others with his words.
Sibling grief is easily misunderstood. They have now lost a part of their past and their future as it should have been with Myesha and now there’s a hole there. An emptiness that will never again be filled. It was a relationship like no other and the death of a sibling during childhood leaves the surviving siblings lives irrevocably changed. The change is immediate, but the effects remain throughout a lifetime. Death has now become more of a reality and an everyday part of life. The surviving siblings now have been forced to realize that if it could strike once, it could strike again and begin to worry about losing other siblings or family members. They become more attached to their immediate family, start telling them they love them more often, and appreciate them more. As in Corban’s case, one night while we were lying in bed he told me he wanted “a new mommy”. My feelings were instantly hurt and I asked him, “Do you now think I’m a good enough Mommy?” His reply, “You’re a great Mommy. But if you die too I will need another Mommy to take care of me.”
Siblings are an intricate part of each other’s lives. There is no other relationship like the sibling connection. From shared secrets, competing with each other, arguing, fighting, teasing each other, but also defending each other. Siblings feel the joy of their successes and the pain of their struggles and loss. All of those moments of giggling that was once shared together are nothing but treasured memories. You will never know how much your sibling means to you until they’re gone. Mommy loves you Myesha Reed! FIM <3 F