Of all the places you see your name; there are certain places you just don’t ever want to see it. There are the obvious places, on a list of people who are delinquent on their mortgage or America’s most wanted list. You don’t want to see your name on a late payment, a “flight is cancelled” email or a pink slip. But, I can say with the upmost certainty that the last place a parent wants to see their name is on their child’s death certificate. After waiting for 4 months to hopefully have an answer to “What in the world happened to our sweet Jack?” we received what may be the only answer we will receive. It still boggles my mind that I am receiving my child’s death certificate. I should be getting reports of how long his nap was at daycare and how many times he used the potty, how much he ate and new words that he learned. What an entirely different kind of document to get. I couldn’t help but notice that they listed the deceased person’s age on the certificate. Did the person typing in Jack’s information do a double-take? Did they think a number was missing on either side of the number “2?” Did it make them catch their breath and think “Thank God this isn’t my family?”
The Medical Examiner wrote the cause of death as “Pulmonary Hemorrhaging of Unknown Etiology.” Basically, Jack’s lungs filled with blood, causing him to suffocate while sleeping. Some crazy virus took over and reeked havoc. Do we know why/what/how? No, and we probably won’t ever know. The Medical Examiner was hoping that an “expert panel of Doctors” would look at Jack’s tissue to see if they could see something he couldn’t. The Medical Examiner claims that this group kept putting him off and he finally gave up on them. I know that learning more of Jack’s death is only top priority to two people and unfortunately, Dan and I didn’t have the clout we needed or even the opportunity to try to contact this “expert panel” to plead our case. Clearly, this group of doctors never met Jack and had no idea what a vivacious, fun, sweet, crazy little boy he was. If they had, I have to believe they would have done whatever they could to help us solve this puzzle.
Jack’s death continues to be something that no one understands. As frustrating as that is, I can see a silver lining. It was fast and he most likely didn’t have pain. There is no one to blame and nothing could have stopped it. It is a comfort to know that our pediatrician thinks it happened “very fast” and that Jack most likely didn’t suffer at all. I am continually filled with gratitude to Adam Stevenson and Woody Green, the EMS responders who worked tirelessly on Jack for 45 minutes before pronouncing him dead. At the time, we didn’t know that when I found Jack, he had already passed. The responders had to have known this yet fought for Jack as if they were fighting for their own life. This could have been no small task as Dan pleaded with Jack to live in a tone filled with such desperation and I paced the house having no idea what was happening and what to do. Both EMS responders left our house crying which solidified to me that they understood that although Jack was only two, he was as much a person as an adult.
As Jack’s body lost the fight to whatever this virus was that I continue to curse, I hope Jack was having sweet dreams of swimming, cupcakes and sunshine shining on his face while he completed his journey on this earth. It is still amazing to think that as this was happening, I was about 20 feet away, in another room watching Oprah on TIVO and eating a Lean Cuisine pizza, having no idea that my world was falling apart. Dan was downstairs cleaning a vacuum. We live life not knowing what/how/when things could suddenly change. Perhaps this is a good thing as we cannot live in fear and change is not always bad. We must remember to live each moment to the fullest. I have no regrets about my time with Jack. I know that he knew he was loved, adored, respected and cared for in the best way possible for our family. I know that Dan and I didn’t waste a day with our sweet boy…how sweet it is.