As a mother, you never expect to outlive your children. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. This entry is not a plea for sympathy, but a need to release what is weighing on me this day because of upcoming events.
Twenty-seven years ago, my son passed away in my arms, he was three weeks old. His name was Brook Joseph and was the spitting image of his sister Kristin. Brook never wore the little outfits given to him, was never wrapped in the blanket made for him. Brook never got to play with the stuffed animal his big brother Mike made for him as a school project. Brook never fell asleep in my arms on the couch after a midnight feeding. Brook’s future was taken from him.
Brook never left the hospital during those three weeks, but instead was given 24/7 care by NICU staff, with me by his side as much as possible. Brook underwent two surgeries, one to remove some of his small intestines and one to fix a murmur in his heart. Afterwards, he began his recover and was doing so well it was amazing, so they transferred him from University Hospital to Children’s Hospital. These two hospitals are associates so I felt confident he was in great hands.
The day before he died, he was rushed back into surgery for more intestinal issues…..there was nothing they could do to help him so they closed him back up. They told me the wait now would be a natural process for him to pass on, I would be allowed to hold him when the end was near. When the time came, they respectfully cleared the room and allowed me to rock him in a rocking chair. It was the first quiet moment I had ever had with Brook and I soaked up those moments in my heart forever. I lost part of me when he took his last breath.
The doctors used the word “expired” for his time of death….I was in shock and grief, I couldn’t even respond but that word pounds in my head to this day. Brook was a person, no a product.
I was told it was from an intestinal issue….and they were right. But not in the way it was revealed to me. There was an article in the paper about E-ferol, a vitamin for premature babies that had been linked to complications and even infant deaths. The hospital countered with facts of the infants that had died, stating they were unrelated. I tried to talk to the hospital staff about this and was told I was a grieving mother wanting to blame someone, but that Brook died from other causes.
My life spiraled out of control for a long time; it didn’t spiral into drug use or anything of that nature, just in emotional turmoil. How can you possibly ever recover from this, I cannot explain the pain you go through. I sincerely hope it does not become an experience you become faced with. I had to hide my pain as much as possible because it was too hard on family members to deal with….it hurt them to see me hurting. No one knows what to say, or how to help….because there is nothing that can be done. I had to bottle it up unless I was alone, sometimes it worked, other times it did not. When I went back to work, I had co-workers say “let’s not talk about it” or “just work, it will take your mind off it”….I know they meant well, but work can not stop your heart from breaking. If it had not been for my, at the time, 4-year-old daughter, Kristin, and 11-year-old son, Mike, I don’t know how I would have made it.
I had a physiologist, from the hospital at my disposal, and I talked to her almost daily on the phone when I was alone. She reminded me often that I had two children that needed me. That Brook was already in God’s hands, I needed to stay alive for the two that were here with me. It was her strong voice and statements that helped me so much. So I kept going for Kristin and Mike….not for myself, just for them. I hoped many times that God would just take me, so the decision would not be mine….my baby needed me and I needed to be with him. The daily pain in my heart and soul were unbearable at times. Apparently God had a different plan.
Twenty years later, a law firm contacted me because my son had been given E-ferol. It was, in fact, the cause of my son’s death. FDIC had not approved the vitamin, and the toxins in it were the cause of Brooks death. The corporate officers of this pharmaceutical company went to prison for their part in this tragedy. The civil suit has come to an end now; I’ll meet with the attorney this week. It has been a seven-year process of pouring salt into wounds.
The ending of this case does not end the anguish of losing Brook. Is it part of a healing process, yes it is. The people responsible are being forced to deal with their wrong doings. But the hole in my heart will never be closed. There are more good days than bad thankfully, but when the wave of memory hits, it is if it happened yesterday. The memory of events, moment to moment, do not fade in time, they heighten in anguish incomparable to anything you can imagine. You are helpless to help your child, I am a mother, I am supposed to take care and protect my children….and I failed. No matter what the courts say, I failed Brook and over the years I failed Kristin and Mike in other ways,  maybe because of Brook’s death, I don’t know….and there is no way to undo any of it….so it is what it is and we all live with experiences in life. Maybe mine are not as bad as yours, maybe worse. Regardless, they are sometimes out of our control.
There are times we are able to find closure, through tears, talk, writing or simply working out those differences. We begin to heal and go forward, regardless if it is the direction we had in mind. For this situation there is no closure, not today, not tomorrow…….not ever.