"It all began with a phone message.
My phone blinked. Funny how it's the insignificant things, like where you were, what you were doing, the smells, the way your breathing seemed to stop - these are the things you will never forget.
I was at school picking up my granddaughter. I looked at the time. It was 3:14 pm. I was being instructed by my young granddaughter not to step on the cracks in the sidewalk - 'Don’t step on the worms, or the bubble gum,' she said.
The smell of those worms and how it mixed with the trees that were beginning to blossom; the sound of the tires of passing cars catching the potholes that have yet to be patched; and how my breath caught in my throat as I read the message. Time stood still.
A post from Erie County Blotter’s Facebook page: An 11-year-old child with cardiac issues collapsed and was being transported to the hospital.
I was transported back in time as I relived that tragic day almost ten years ago when it was a different situation, but sadly, the same outcome. I gripped the hand of my 5-year-old tight, as I struggled for some control of my emotions, so she wouldn’t see the sadness fall from my eyes. And we climbed into the truck for the ride home.
That evening I was again reminded how my own life had changed that night in June so many years ago. How the intersections were closed off to allow the emergency vehicles to continue their route without having to pause. That a life was being fought for. That someone’s child was in the hands of a paramedic, who was battling their own emotions and still managing to 'do their job' without any hesitation.
Another tiny angel gained their wings. Another angel from this little country town - Akron, NY. Another baby, with so much potential, was gone to cardiac arrest.
Here we are a few days later and the pain in my heart is so great. I was never fortunate enough to meet this brave little one, but my loss is still beyond words. I’ve traveled that journey. Ten years later, my own ache still remains. This time, I am not the parent of the child, but how I wish I could remove this loss for this family.
It isn’t fair.
As a community, we need to hold this family within our hearts and hands and help them as they try to process their baby that will not be here. Do what you can to hold them; carry their hearts for them when they are struggling with the simple act of taking that next breath. Their brokenness will run painfully deep. It is said that it takes a community to raise a child. It is in times like these that a community is the only thing that will help a family grieve such a tragedy.
Be that person who stops over...just because. Be willing to listen, as they talk about their child and allow your eyes to release those tears as you listen. This simple act lets the family know that their child is loved by others as well.
Never think that by mentioning their child’s name, or a favorite memory, that you will cause undue pain to the family. It is just the opposite. When you mention their name, you prove to the loved ones that you have not forgotten the one who is gone.
I’ll let you in on a secret, the hardest thing to deal with was the thought that people would forget my loved one. It felt so good to hear her name and to know she remained in others hearts.
Hope Rises is a page filled with love and hope. Stories filled with sadness or tragedy are difficult to read. When those stories hit so close to home they become even more difficult to fathom. We, as a community, can make a difference to this family. You did it for mine.
Tragedy does not mean that you cannot love through it. Take your child tonight, and share a little extra love. Give them an extra hug, an extra squeeze, one more kiss. Fill your hearts up until they overflow and let it spill onto those that need it now. You might just help someone take that breath that they are struggling so hard to try to complete.
Keep the love alive and remember the little ones who gain their wings early - they are our lights up in the sky."
Our sincere thanks to Annette Adamczak of Akron, NY for writing to Hope Rises in loving memory of her own daughter, Emily, whose life was cut short due to cardiac arrest. Annette's daughter passed in 2009, as she played soccer on her school's soccer field.
We, as a team, send our love to this family of Akron, who lost their own young daughter to the same condition. You remain in our hearts...our thoughts...and our prayers.