September 25, 2017

I couldn’t come up with another title for this writing. Nothing else seemed appropriate. Worst Day of My Life? The Day My Son Went To Heaven? Shattered? So many different ones come to mind, and the truth is, they all could be the title, but how could I decide on just one? Therefore, I kept the date. It has all of the titles in one simple, unforgettable date.

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Sleeping, peacefully my sweet boy.

Monday, September 25, 2017 was just another regular Monday. I woke up around 6:45 and then, clumsily, walked down the stairs to wake up Amoree for school. Dada was home which meant Pebs was going to be allowed to sleep in. On the days that Rocky was at work, I’d wake up Pebs and take him with us to drop off Amee at school. This day, he just rolled over onto dada’s side of the bed and continued his restful sleep. Amee and I left for school around 7:45. I don’t remember our conversation that morning, but I know we prayed for the Holy Spirit to surround us with His presence and to help us along the day. Her school isn’t far from our house, however, it took me about half an hour to get back home after battling the morning commuters. When I arrived home, my sweet Pebs and Rocky were already awake, playing, wrestling, giggling, and being boys. We had a full day ahead of us, thanks to dada’s busy schedule. I made my boys some breakfast and fed Pebs in his high chair. It’s hard to believe that it was the last time I would feed him there. Those were some lovable moments. He would scoot his high chair towards me, pat it so I could sit him down, and give me his big, huge smile when I would lift him up to sit him down. I loved his beautiful, brown eyes I would do the airplane spoon to feed him some “papa.” We had some great, special moments in the kitchen with his high chair. Thank you for those, my sweet boy. After breakfast, we had some time to clean the house while dada was working outside in the yard. Pebble loved being with me, but when Rocky was home, he was his little shadow. Anytime dada was outside, that’s where Pebs wanted to be. I remember almost forcing him inside a few times to change his dirty diaper or to get him his “agua.” As soon as I’d change him or hydrate him, he’d hurry back outside. I’d open the front door for him and walk him over to where Rocky was so he’d know Pebble was outside with him.

We had to take one of our vehicles to the shop. I followed Rocky in the vehicle while he drove his truck. Pebs, of course, rode with dada. He had Elmo on in the truck. When we arrived at the shop, Pebble was asleep taking his afternoon nap. We dropped off the vehicle that I was driving and climbed in the truck with Pebs while Rocky talked business with the mechanic. I had jumped in the truck in such a hurry, I had forgotten his diaper bag in the vehicle we dropped off. Little did I know, the next time I’d see that bag would be when my Pebs had already passed. It shattered my heart having to hold his bag, with his diapers, snacks, and his balls.

On the way home, my papasito woke up very peacefully and happily. I remember turning around and seeing his sweet face with his big smile. He was just giggling watching his Elmo. We arrived home with about an hour to spare before I had to get Amee from school. I remember being so sore from the day before. If you remember my previous posts, I had played softball the previous day, and my body was feeling every bit of it. I just wanted to lay down for a few minutes before I had to get Amee. My boys had other plans. I laid down on my bedroom’s floor, Rocky was laying on the bed, and Pebs was bouncing on my back and doing forward rolls all over me. Rocky was laughing hysterically because we had never seen Pebs do a forward roll before, and Pebble thought it was pretty cool to see dada laughing which encouraged his somersaults and wrestling talents even more. I just laid there, hurting, sore, and extremely happy. I was in a wonderful, joyful mood that entire day. It was 3:00. It was time for me to get Amoree. Two hours away from losing my son.

I asked Rocky if he wanted me to take Pebble or leave him. He told me to leave him. He was going to be doing some work in the garage. We had two of our close friends helping Rocky with yard work. I quickly left to the school while Pebble and Rocky walked toward the garage. I still picture Pebs shadowing his dada. He loved being in his presence, just as much as he loved being in my arms. I returned home around 4 and was in a hurry to fix Amee’s lunch for the next day, get her started on her homework, and prepare a snack for her before her second day of volleyball practice that would start at 6 p.m. that afternoon. Once I prepared her a snack and made her lunch, I finished some small tasks that I had pending. I needed to measure my neighbor’s piano across the street that was placed in their garage because they had offered to give it to us. However, I needed to make sure I had room in the living room for it therefore, needed the measurements. I walked across the street with my measuring tape and proceeded to measure this piano that would soon be in our living room. As I walked back home, I saw my sweet Pebs, playing in our front yard. Sometimes, he climbed up the steps of our front porch, and other times, he was running from the steps to the front yard. He was being a boy and loving his play time. Every time I approached him or came close to him, I’d grab him and gave him a kiss. I had this sweet voice I always made when I talked to him. It was my special mama voice just for my baby. The last time I saw him alive, he was standing on the bottom of the front porch, and I was walking inside the house. He turned to look at me, and I asked him if he wanted to come inside. He shook his head no. I can still see him shake his head, smiling as I close the door behind me. It was 5:11.

It tormented me for a while. Why didn’t I just bring him inside? Why didn’t I let Rocky know he was going to stay outside? Why? Why? Why?

I walked back outside at 5:17 with Amee. We were headed to volleyball practice. Rocky was by the garage. The first thing that came out of my mouth was where was Pebs. His response, immediately was, “He was just right here.” Crazy how panic mode doesn’t really set in right away. I’m a pretty calm person in dramatic situations, I think. I was a lifeguard for years, a competitive cheer coach for even more years, and have seen my share of trauma, and I’m not one to think the worst in these type of situations. I would’ve never in my whole entire life imagined what was about to enfold. For the next 10 minutes, Rocky, Amee, our two freinds, and myself searched for Pebs. Not frantically at first, but nervously. He never was lost, never out of our site for this long. We always knew where he was, this was much different. We have a huge pond in our backyard. Pebs would spend hours by the pond (not along of course)throwing rocks into it, so naturally, that was one of the first places we checked. When he wasn’t there, we searched the outside and the inside of our house high and low. Twenty minutes passed by and I had to make the phone call I never thought I’d ever make. I dialed 911. I didn’t even know what to say. I don’t even remember what I said. I know I was outside walking to the front of the house from the backyard. I thought maybe he had gone back to my neighbor’s house after he saw me measuring the piano. We hadn’t checked there so it was worth a shot. The dispatcher was very rude and accusatory, I felt. She asked me questions that I didn’t see the logic in at the time. All I wanted was for her to hurry up and get the police to my house. It didn’t take long for them to arrive. It had been 40 min since the last time I saw my son. It was like a nightmare. I felt I would wake up any minute. I made the next worst phone call. I had to call my dad. Peb’s guelo. His whole world. Dad must’ve heard the panic in my voice. I told him we couldn’t find Pebble. He couldn’t believe it and said he was on his way. He demanded I keep looking and not to lose faith. He tried to sound strong for me, but I knew better. I knew I had just broken my dad’s heart. My mom called me next. She’s even a stronger woman. She told me he’s fine. We will find him, laughing, giggling, and everything will be okay. She told me she was on her way. I’m sure I must’ve dove into the pond about 20 times by this point. The police had a skimmer that was skimming the bottom of the pond. Every time I jumped in, I prayed I wouldn’t find him. I didn’t want him to be in that pond. I don’t know what time it was by this point, but our house was filled with caring neighbors and people that were helping us look for our son. Rock and I had probably broken down several times by this time. I remember one time looking into Rock’s eyes and seeing emptiness, sadness, despair. I had never seen his eyes look like they did that day. Our whole world was gone.

During our search, we used the security cameras to help figure out what could’ve happened to Pebble. At 5:12, Pebble walked to the right side of the house, out of view of the cameras. In the security cameras, we could also see our dogs running back and forth by the pond. It’s amazing how your brain doesn’t function correctly when you are placed in a dramatic situation. I couldn’t think. I remember trying to think rationally, and I couldn’t. I could see my son go the right of the house, and every time I passed the trampoline that was to the right of the house, I never thought to check under the trampoline. Never did I once think to look under it, where the septic tank was located. Never once.

We had the septic tank company come clean out our septic tank two weeks before Harvey hit Houston. When they came to clean it, they broke off the screws that had the lid screwed down. They were rusted and didn’t have another large size that was needed to hold the lid down. They were supposed to come back and fix it, but then we went through the flood and somehow, the lid came off some more. My husband, in the meantime, moved the trampoline over the septic tank so no one would walk over it. Didn’t think anyone would be able to walk under the trampoline.

After I saw into my husband’s eyes, I began walking to the pond again. Pleading, begging, crying to God. Before I reached it, I heard this horrific scream, “Help! Help! We found him. Help!” The voice was my husband’s, and it was coming from the trampoline. Really? I passed by their a million times. I didn’t see him. Did I check under the trampoline? As I approached him, I saw our friend on his stomach, arms reaching down into this hole. Did I remember that the septic tank was even there? Why is he reaching into this hole? Then, my baby boy emerged from this dark forsaken hole. His lifeless body was handed to me. I grabbed my baby boy and still remember seeing Rocky climb out of the septic tank. He had heroically jumped in when we finally had found him to rescue his Sunny Boy.  Rocky was still yelling “help” as he was climbing out. I placed my Pebs on the ground, demanded those around me to pray, and I started CPR. He was so cold. I don’t think I was performing CPR very long when the police took over. They made everyone get back and gently grabbed him from my arms. I heard my dad dying in pain. He argued with the police because he didn’t want to move. Rocky yelled back at my dad to let them do their job. I heard Rocky plead to me to wake up our son. I could feel the prayers from neighbors and friends. But, in a way, my life stopped. I could hear voices, see people around me, and feel my wet clothes, but my entire world was on pause. I remember being knelt next to my son’s lifeless body, rubbing his little hands and legs, feverishly, trying to get some warmth back into his body. I talked to him. I wanted him to know I was there, that he was tough, and I needed him. I kissed him numerous times, making sure I wasn’t in the way of the police officers who were still working on him. I thought if I could just kiss him enough times, my love would revive him, my breath would bring him warmth necessary to live again. I’m not sure when the EMS arrived, but I remember one asking how long he had been in the septic tank. I had my eyes closed, holding my Pebs little hand. The police officer said 2 hours. The EMS repeated, “How long?” And I slowly looked up at him and told him not to give up on my son. It had been two hours, but not to give up on him. They placed him on the ambulance bed. I don’t even remember when they took him from me. Most days, I’m still lying on that ground, next to the septic tank holding my baby boy’s hand. As they rolled him to the ambulance, my sister had just arrived. Her first image was of her baby nephew being rolled on an ambulance bed, lifeless. I heard her scream, cry, and then, she found me. When she saw me, I collapsed in her arms. Rocky was trying to get in the ambulance with them, but they wouldn’t let him. They were taking him to the hospital and my sis offered to drive us. They grabbed me some dry clothes and we jumped in her car in pursuit of the ambulance with my whole world.

When we arrived at the emergency room, Rocky went straight in. I stayed in the waiting room with my sister. I fell to my knees, cried, and asked God for mercy. I could go. Just don’t take our joy. Don’t take my husband’s shadow, his son. Don’t take my dad’s whole heart. Don’t take our family’s baby, my daughter’s only brother. Don’t take for what we prayed for. The cop soon came to get me, and the look on his face said it all. As I zombie-like walked into the room, I saw a scene from a horror movie. I saw tubes in and out of my son’s body, numerous people working on his tiny, fragile shell. Rocky was knelt down beside him. My son was laying on his right side. He looked like he was just sleeping, just like he had looked earlier that day. I reached over to touch him and he was even colder than before. Rocky, again, pleaded for me to wake up our son. I knelt down beside him and kissed his little legs, rubbed his tiny hands. Told him mama was there with him. I was again in a land of no time. Nothing seemed real. Then, I heard the doctor say, “I’m sorry ma’am. We’ve tried nine times. He’s not responding. Do you want us to try again?” I said, “Yes, please. The tenth time will work.” They put some medicine in his IV and started with compressions again. I know we tried to make a deal with God multiple times at that moment. I continued to rub him, kiss him, talk to him, but then I heard those terrible words. “I’m sorry. We did all we could do.” They unplugged him. He never moved. He just laid there like a sweet baby boy dreaming. It didn’t take long for Rocky and I to lose it alone in that room with our son’s lifeless body. I laid next to him. I wanted to warm him up, to keep him next to me. Soon, we had my sister and other family and friends in the room saying their farewells. I don’t know how long we stayed there, but I know they let us stay a long time afterwards. My mom had stayed at my house to watch Amee, but when she heard Pebble went to be with Jesus, she wanted to see him. They gave us all time to spend with him before they covered him back up and wheeled him away again. It seemed like it was a short time that I was given to spend with him, but I know it was probably hours. When we finally had to leave, we walked out towards the waiting room. What we were greeted with was a blessing, a light in a horrible, dark moment. The waiting room and outside of the hospital was filled, packed with our family and friends. Friends that lived over an hour away to be there for us. We had family members that had kids of their own who had school the next day that were there for us. We had a room full of love, hope, and support. My son was just taken form this world. My life is completely shattered, but we had love. I didn’t see that at the time, but I know I felt it. I didn’t see the hope, but I knew the support was always going to be there. I entered my sister’s vehicle as a grieving mother. That morning, I had prayed for the Holy Spirit’s protection, and that night, I was going home to an empty crib.

I still don’t sleep through the night. I wake up around the same times Pebs would wake me up to get him out of his crib to come into my bed. I breakdown frequently. I feared having to relive this day and my pain didn’t disappoint my fears. I dreaded writing about this day, and I pray, I’ll be able to do a better job of it next time. It all is so fresh and vivid with emotions still. Maybe that won’t ever go away, but hopefully, my writing will improve. It still haunts me, tortures me. Mondays will always be a painful day for me. I usually relive every hour on Mondays, counting down the last moments I saw him alive on that porch before I closed the door. However, I now can reminisce and not be in that agonizing pain like before. I know my son was welcomed when his last heartbeat palpitated on this earth. I know Jesus was there, with open arms, welcoming my baby boy to Heaven. I know he didn’t suffer. I know he didn’t have any pain. I know he is safe. I know he is happy. We are sorrowful here on earth because we love him deeply and miss him terribly, but how much joy will we all have the day we get to reunite with him in Heaven! He has visited me in my dreams on several occasions, and I feel him in my heart and soul. I know God turns all for our good. He allowed my son to be taken from me for reasons explainable to me. I don’t know why, but I believe that God has something special, something good, something miraculous coming from this tragedy. I pray, my tragedy, my grief, my story will bring hope to those that are going through their own tragedies.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”                                                                                                                                                         -Romans 5:3-5
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He would hate taking naps, but I loved to cuddle next to him. I loved to watch him sleep.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”                                                          -Romans 8:28

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This was taken the morning of the tragedy. Last picture of my son. Full of smiles.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”                                                                                                                    -Jeremiah 29:11

10 thoughts on “September 25, 2017

  1. There will never be words that comfort your heart for this loss. Know that the Skillern family will continue praying for all of you. Thank you for sharing your story with others.

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    1. Thank you for reading my post. All I want to do is share him to the world. He was my everything and was the most special baby boy. It is comforting to me writing about him for others to know about him, and maybe, love him almost as much as I do.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. There isn’t a rule book on how a mother should grieve when she loses her child, but writing about him and sharing him to others is my way to cope. He was my everything and it is important to me for others to know about him.

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  2. Losing a child is not the natural order. Whether it be by accident or genetic defect .. it isn’t fair or rationale. 9/16/18 will make 8 months since our son died and I relive the months leading up to his death wondering if I had done this or not done that … would it have made a difference in the outcome. Life is never the same.

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    1. I’ve been told by other parents who have lost a child that the pain gets worse before it gets better. I am living it now. I have dreaded approaching his year anniversary. Every day, I think of what we were doing with him just a year ago. I can’t imagine my life without him, and yet, here I am, almost a year later without him. I have to keep living, even if it’s with an everlasting pain.

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    2. I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I wish there was a way I could take your pain away, mend your heart, but all I know is my faith. That has comforted me throughout my grief journey and this unimaginable pain. Life will never be the same, we just learn to live a different life than what we had imagined…

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