You know when you’re watching a movie or a tv show where someone dies, and their family member falls into this realm of denial? When the loved on just loses their mind and starts sobbing uncontrollably, or has to be coerced away from the body? You watch and you think “A little dramatic, yeah?” It’s real. I remember everything but the sound of my own screaming. I know I screamed, and screamed, and screamed. But I don’t actually remember the feeling of doing it. I remember hearing Justin yell “no, no no! Our baby!” Over and over as he took Sloan’s lifeless body from my arms and started CPR on the kitchen counter. I remember that I was still standing beside Sloan’s crib screaming. I remember the neighbor yelling up through the open window “do you need help?”. I remember sobbing “we found our baby in his crib…” and trailing off, and then he was at our door. I know I stood there staring at him for a few moments before he walked past me and went running up the stairs to our kitchen to help.
I came up the stairs and heard Justin crying, saw the neighbor doing compressions, saw Sloan’s blue fingers and stiff body lying on the counter. I stared, and quietly, matter of fact I said “he’s gone isn’t he.” It wasn’t even a question. The part of me that said it, knew. I felt it in my soul. He was already gone. And then I was no longer in my own skin. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t present. I was watching, I was there, but I wasn’t. Paramedics came and ushered us into another room so we wouldn’t see them trying to revive our baby. They tried for so long, but it was too late.
I still wasn’t there. Just watching, listening. Existing. And then someone said “Do you want to be with him?” They walked me out to his body, a tiny form covered by a throw blanket on the ottoman. I pulled it off of his face, the second time that morning I had done that. Some part of me noted that, deep inside. Then I came back to myself. I fell over him, collapsed into sobs holding his emptiness in my arms. “My baby, oh God, my baby.” Noises escaped his throat, almost like cooing. I looked at a paramedic and said “is he breathing?!” Some small sliver of me thinking a miracle had happened.
He shook his head no, and my mom explained “the air from compressions is escaping his lungs, that’s all it is.” And I sobbed. He was gone. Gone from me. Gone from us, gone from here. For eternity. I held him for hours. His body was heavier, and so cold. I couldn’t let him go. I held him and held him, until they told me they had to take him away as the medical examiner unfolded an tiny body bag. We said goodbye, we sobbed, we reluctantly handed our baby over to a stranger. A stranger who would zip him into a bag and walked him out of our home, forever. You know that part of movies and shows when someone dies, and their family member falls into this realm of denial? When their loved one just loses their mind sobbing and can’t let go of the body? It’s real.