I don't know how many people get to say Goodbye to their loved one before they die. There are many who don't and I often times feel as if we didn't have that chances since George's death was unexpected. Often times people in our situation would give anything just to be able to say goodbye. Today a mom posted a question asking what was the last thing you ever said to your child before they died? I had to really think about it.
The night before, when I put him to bed, I remember telling him I love him and placing the sign of the cross on his head and saying "Father, Son, Holy Spirit...God watch over you while you sleep". Every night before I put my kids to bed that is the last thing I do and have done since the day they were born. I have no idea why I have done it but I have and always will. I can vividly remember the look on his face while his music cd played in the background(a cd I can no longer listen to because we played it every single time he went to sleep...it was his favorite and he would not sleep without it on.) and I went to turn the light off. He lifted his little head off his bed and gave me a sad face but knew it was bed time and just looked at me one more time before he started to suck on his thumb and drift off to sleep listening to all the pretty little horses. Never did I think it would be the last time I would see him alive.
I then thought about the very last moment I ever got to be with his little body. It was at the funeral home and we took our last pictures of us with him in them we would ever have. The pain is vividly depicted on our face, there is no escaping the feelings that those pictures transcend. Knowing other parents who have lost children, we all have one of those pictures where the broken heart is just not able to be covered up by anything...the emotions are raw and right there in a photography forever captured. I asked everyone to leave me with him and sang his song as I held him in my arms one last time and kissed his little head and just told him I wished I could have saved him and that I loved him with all my heart. That was the hardest room to ever leave and ironically, it was a funeral home, a place most people hate to be at and avoid at all costs.
How do you move forward without having a chance to say goodbye? Are there moments that God has given to those who had no idea their loved one was leaving where you actually have that chance without knowing it? I truly believe there were moments like these for those in my family and we didn't know it. Never in my life had we ever been able to afford a trip to Disney World. It was always a dream of mine to go there with my whole family. For whatever reason, last minute my mom had the money and we talked her into coming with us and then my brother and sister also opted to come too. The day after Christmas we all headed out to the happiest place on Earth. That week was one of the most memorable weeks in my entire life. George rolled over and we all had the time of our lives and we got to do it as a family. We were only missing my sister Tara who was unable to join us and I wish she had been able to be there but she was in her own dark place at that time. It was like we got to "Make a Wish" and didn't even know it! I'll never forget his face as we stood there watching the Christmas lights blinking and his two brothers waved light up swords above his head...he was so fascinated! He spent time with everyone that week...something that was very unlikely to ever happen. I think God gave us all a gift that week and we didn't know it.
Then I remember the few days before he died when my parents watched him for me I was behind on making my hours for work for the week and wanted to catch up so that come Friday I could be done early and spend the rest of the weekend with the kids and Hugh. Hugh had to go to Atlantic City to pick up his mom who had last minute asked him to take her and pick him up and told him that she had already made reservations she could not cancel and she wanted to tell everyone that his dad died. That left me very frustrated with George when he got to his fuss time and my mom was on the phone as I was trying to juggle the kids and work. She told me to just drop the kids off at her house, even the baby(my mom is not a baby person and usually does not sit for them. With it being winter she hadn't seen him much other than the week we were in Disney and a few other times, we had such a cold winter that year) I was hesitant but wanted the time with the kids so I took him over. Finally I got caught up enough to be able to not be too far behind even with having to take time off for Hugh's birthday the next day. I will never forget the memories from picking him up and how he was so happy and not the typical fussy little boy. My parents were in their recliners and he was there rocking and my mom said how good he was which was such a surprise. I really believe that was his goodbye to them.
For me, my time with him was the night before he died, Hugh's birthday. We gave him some birthday icing even though I was not one for giving him stuff at his age with all the tummy troubles he had. To this day I am thankful that I threw out my "doctor" hat and just got to be a fun mommy where I gave him icing. After cake I went to finish another hour of work so I would only be left with 3 hrs the next morning which I planned to wake up early to finish. Hugh was caring for him and I finally finished my work. I went up the steps to find him in his favorite place, his bouncer! His little face just lit the room up when he saw me and of course melted my heart all over again and widened that special place he already claimed even more than I thought possible. The shower was calling my name and Hugh decided to put him to bed while I was in there.
When I came out he was still crying and I went in to get him. I wasn't going to, I was going to let him cry it out. Something in me said..."what would happen if he didn't wake up tomorrow, you would be mad at yourself for not going in!" Despite Hugh's scowl I opened the door and he tucked himself under my chin as I walked to the couch with him in my arms. The two of us sat there play for a while. I had missed that time during the day and finally the stress of the week we just had melted away as I realized that I only had a few hours and I could then spend the whole weekend with the new little light in my life. It was a special playtime, one like no other where all my problems had subsided for that time and all I was focused on was playing with George. I know that was his Goodbye to me and I didn't know it. I even remember almost not doing the sign of the cross but stopped in my tracks yet again thinking of how I would hate myself if I didn't do it and went back to do just such.
Without even knowing it we all had our goodbyes in our own way. The boys got to have a party with their little brother and that is exactly what they would have wanted. My kids love parties and it was their daddy's birthday so there was no better thing for them especially when they would like to have a party just because the wind blew. They had made pictures and hung up a few balloons and made cake. If the boys could have chosen a way to say goodbye it would have been just that way and it was even though these moments just now bring so much pain when in the moment they just brought such innocent and unconditional love. I don't know if anyone else in my family ever looks back and sees their last moments with him and feels as if they did get to say goodbye without realizing it but I know I do. Those memories are so vivid and now bring mixed emotions with them. We didn't get to utter the words or do what we would thought we wanted to do if we knew he was going to die but instead we were just granted special moments where our world happened to just revolve around George even if it was only brief.
I thank God for those moments now with all my heart and that he made me go back in there and enjoy the time rather than being distracted by the outside world like usual. The last few moments I had with my son alive were happy ones and I am so grateful for those because I am really trying to focus on that rather than all the stuff that transpired the next morning when I never did finish those hours for work, the dirty dishes were still in the sink, and my world was just turned upside down. Cherish every moment for none of us know when it will be our last. Learn to forgive and move forward because holding a grudge only hurts you in the long run and clouds your very being. Forgive yourself and don't take it too hard. When the rains pour remember God's promise to walk with you the whole way and carry you when needed and that things in the end will be just as they are suppose to even though it may not be easy. To this day I will never look at a rainbow the same way. My son taught me that often times it isn't a word or phrase that can express a feeling but rather just truly living in the moment and cherishing it with all you have and all that you are. My goodbye were those special moments I was blessed with.
George's Guardian's of Grace Projects
Stocking project is now in full force collecting donations. We have a list of the items we can use. You can also choose to sponsor a stocking in memory or honor of someone else. We will include a paragraph or two in the cards we place in the stockings to let the recipient know about the person that means so much to you. Our paypal account is posted on this page and ready to take donations. Email us for a list of items needed or with any questions or information you would like included on a sponsored stocking/donation.
Video Tributes/Celebration of Life Footage
Here is a link to a video tribute that was made by Richard's dad in memory of George. Get out your tissues!
We Finally have footage from the service up and running:
It is in 4 sections running about 17 mins each. If you were unable to attend, you can now see what you missed. We were so blessed to have everyone there with us in person and in spirit!