Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Gift of Your Smiles

Peanut -

We are in the middle of our annual Big Cedar trip, and feeling your presence in the most joyful way on a daily basis.  Everywhere we look we are touched by wonderful memories of you, and are also creating new ones with your little brother.  Momma is surprised by the happiness, not guilt, that has filled her heart during these days.

On Sunday Momma, Dadda and The Pickle were enjoying brunch on the patio, with your little brother greeting everyone with a giant, "Hiii-looooo!" and wave as they walked by, no matter if it was their first or tenth time passing our table.  This evoked lots of smiles and laughs from the other patrons and the kind restaurant staff.  Eventually one waitress approached our table, with a huge grin, and shared a story from her bible study about a little boy who was sent to earth to bring smiles to everyone he touched.  She told us she was pretty sure that little boy was your brother, and she hoped we realized what a blessing he was with his sunshine presence.  Dadda and I simply looked at each other and nodded with our own knowing grins.  She has no idea...

Yesterday we were walking through the woods after a morning boat ride with Grandma and Grandpa (now known as NaNa and PawPaw) when a large, beautiful butterfly joined us on the path.  Dadda and I both exclaimed, "Hi Peanut!" and your brother giggled and tried his best to say, "Brother!" The butterfly circled us several times, and attempted to land on The Pickle's hands.  In the shady quiet of the wooded path we felt your love, your joy.  The warmth of your smile.  I realized, while we look like a small family of three to outside observers, we are truly a family of four - a Momma, Dadda and their two little boys - enjoying this end of summer trip.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis a political drama is playing out surrounding County Executive Charlie Dooley.  You remember Charlie.  The guy whose office we flooded with letters after Dr. Mary Case from his Coroner's office refused to acknowledge SUDC.  The guy who was so troubled by our letter campaign that he devoted not one, but two weekly staff meetings to a conversation around what to do about this "Connor Mulholland situation."  The guy who had secret e-mail conversations (shared with Momma by one of his concerned senior staff members) with Dr. Case discussing why she chose to assign Bronchitis as the cause of death on your Death Certificate, even though no one in her office could actually find a cause - but that "Unknown" wasn't acceptable under her watch even though they have between 1 and 3 of these situations on an annual basis.  The guy who refused to talk directly with Momma, who dodged her calls, e-mails and letters.  Yeah, THAT guy.

As Charlie's political career goes down in flames while we prepare to celebrate your 4th birthday, I can't help but feel satisfied.  There is a sense of peace, that the scales of good/bad, right/wrong, grief/joy, are balancing themselves.  While I know nothing will ever bring you back, the injustice of your death can never be erased, and the hole in my heart will never be filled until I meet you again, Momma does feel hopeful.  Hopeful that a new administration will step in and we can once again campaign to have SUDC added to the St. Louis County Coroner's list of causes of death.  A small change that could have such sweeping implications - for more awareness with the CDC, for more state and national funding for research, for someday finding the root cause of SUDC so no other family has to suffer this horrible, meaningless loss.  So no other family has to face that moment when a day - just a regular day - changes the course of their world forever.  When they are joyfully walking in to wake their snoozing son or daughter only to find a lifeless body, the spirit gone from their eyes, stolen in the peace of slumber. And in the wake of that moment, to be told there is no reason, there are no answers, there is nothing anyone could have done to predict or prevent that moment.  Momma has, confidence, that we can make that change.

The little story shared by the waitress on Sunday got Momma thinking - my two boys have both been, and still are, such beacons of light, happiness, sunshine.  How did one Momma get so lucky?  Both of your smiles fill people with happiness and laughter.  Oh, how I wish I could see the two of you playing together.  But, in the absence of that I can look at photos of the two of you, side-by-side and marvel over my amazing sons.

Peanut, thank you for keeping the joy and hope alive in Momma's heart.  Thank you for showing your presence.  I love you, my sweet, happy, amazing son.  How much?  To the moon - and back!

Peanut, at 15 months old.  So full of himself after a successful visit to Santa.

A rare blog-glimpse of The Pickle - taken during vacation this week.  He is 19 months old.

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