Learning to live and not forget
Written by: Irma Soriano
February 3, 1994, just two months and six days after the happiest day of our lives, became the beginning of am emotional roller coast we continue to ride.
During my pregnancy I did everything asked of me. I ate the right things. We attended to the parenting classes offered to new parents, and a labor and delivery class. The funny thing was that ever since I had heard of SIDS, it became my biggest fear. I felt that there was nothing I wouldn't do to save my baby. I would give my heart and soul. But, SIDS was something that I would never in my whole life be prepared for. We would do all the things recommended, never lay the baby on her stomach, avoid having her around smoke, and avoid fluffy pillows and blankets.
On November 28, 1993, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby I had ever laid my eyes on. Our first born, Rhiana very quickly became the center of our universe. Being the youngest child born during that Christmas, she very quickly became known and loved by everyone in our family and all our friends. Even as such a small infant she had her own personality. I had never imaged, as no first time parent can, the love you feel for your child. Going to work everyday I started to wonder, how life could be so good. I could still not erase the fear of SIDS from the back of my mind. I tried to tell myself what everyone else says, "It can't happened to us."
February 3 started as an unusual day, Rhiana usually slept on the way to the sitter, a very close friend of the family. The sitter still lives next door to my mother's house. This Friday, she was very awake and alert. I sat her up front with me so I could watch her. I will never forget how she would look over at me and smile. This was the first and last time she had ever really looked at me as if she had something to say. That afternoon I got THE call at work. David and I worked together, but took lunch with our own friends. My parents were out of town at the time visiting a very ill aunt and my oldest sister made the call. She would not tell me what was wrong so I first thought it might be our aunt in Mexico. On my way to the house I kept thinking of Rhiana. What if it was about her? I even thought of going back for David. I started telling myself it could not be her. As I got off the freeway and turned onto the street where my mom lives I could see an ambulance pulling out from the street. As my heart pounded I tried to calm myself and kept saying, "it can't be my baby".
Finally, as I drove up to the driveway my sister and the babysitter, who was hysterical by now, could only say, "the baby can't breathe, the baby can't breathe ". I stood in confused and horrified only asking "what baby?" In my mind it could no be my baby. Eventually, my sister said I needed to go to the hospital that was about a mile and a half away. I insisted on driving to prove that I knew nothing could really be wrong. I got to the hospital and the strangest thing started to happen, I started to feel as if I had stepped out of my shoes. I very calmly went to the register's desk and started to pull out her insurance cards and that's when everything became reality. They asked me to just drop that and follow the nurse. As she walked my down this hallway, that seemed to go on forever, I could only see a priest standing at the other end. Just then I knew I had lost my baby forever. I called my husband and left a message because he was still at lunch. I was not comforted by anything at that point, I could understand that the priest was there for comfort but, I could only cry and ached for my child.
David managed to get to the hospital an hour or two later. The message had been somehow misunderstood and he was dropped off at the incorrect hospital. During this time all our family and friends came to the hospital to show their support. When I saw David finally walk in, I just stood there and I had to be the one to give him the worst news of his life. He looked to his mom for an explanation, but like I, she had none to give. The nurse, whom I never got to thank, was so supportive and at one point I heard her crying in the hall. Going against all hospital rules she did something that I will forever be grateful. She allowed me to go into the room where they had Rhiana laid out and allowed me to hold her and say "Goodbye".
I, like every other mother who has lost a child, made the cemetery my home for the first year. I lived to visit and take flowers to my child. We went to a SIDS support group, where we made friends with another couple that we still frequently talk to. I hear Daniel Steel, the romance writer, says this about the loss of her son, "You don't get over it, you learn to live with it."
We have had many supportive people in our lives that we are very thankful for. My mother-in-law that was always there and was gracias enough to host us a place to stay when it was impossible for me to stay where we were living. The mer thought of being in the houses without Rhiana was impossible. There were also people who we wish had not said anything instead of what came out of their mouths. When it was hard being around other children, we seemed to offend those who did not understand. Needless to say this has brought us closer to some people and totally separated us from others. My one wish in life is that people learn to be sympathetic to those who have loss a loved one, especially bereaving parents. When you lose a child it's like no other loss, you are left with all these dreams, hope, and especially love.
Since then, we have had an amazingly energetic son, David Jerry JR (DJ). When he was born we used the apnea monitor for peace of mind. Maybe with our next child we will not use the monitor that is still to be seen. We tell him about his "Baby Sister" and show him pictures. He will always know of her, and someday, I know he will love her as much as we do. David and I still sit and think of her, we think of how life could have been had she not left us. This year Rhiana would have been 5, I sometimes think of her as I see the children going to school. We have nephews and nieces very close in age to her and seeing them makes me wonder even more about Rhiana and what could have been. I feel very cheated in life but am VERY thankful for our son and the second chance of feeling that eternal love.
Every year we have tried to have a mass of remembrance for our precious daughter. This year it will be on November 25, at Most Holy Trinity in San Jose, CA, where she would have been baptized. I have made it my challenge to always remind people of Rhiana and how much we will always love her.
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