Capture Your Grief Day 19: Learn

I’ve said before that the moment I found Sloan, I disassociated. My body was there, and I remember every detail of those hours, but there are things I don’t remember. I do not remember screaming uncontrollably. I don’t remember pacing our home, frantically walking in circles sobbing and hyperventilating. I don’t remember the 911 call.

I don’t remember calling my mom, calling Justin’s mom, answering the door to the neighbor who’d end up taking over CPR because Justin was shaking so badly. I don’t remember texting my best friends the words “Sloan is dead” telling one of them to come be with us immediately. I don’t remember what I was wearing, or how I changed out of my pajamas at some point. I don’t remember how long I held his lifeless body, tracing every feature of his face after they called TOD. I don’t remember doing the dishes after he was taken away. I don’t remember demanding his highchair and toys be removed from my sight. I don’t remember posting anything on Facebook. But all of these things happened.

I can see them, when my mind wanders back to that trauma. I can clearly see these things as if I watched outside myself, but I can’t remember doing them. I know I logged onto Facebook at some point while holding him. Typed out a brief status update for friends and family far away, then logged off. I didn’t realize that because of a post I’d shared the night before, set to “public”, that my post about Sloan’s death would then automatically be set to public. I didn’t realize that while we said goodbye to our baby, that post was being shared like wildfire. As we achingly handed him over to a stranger and packaged bags to stay anywhere but our home that would never feel like home again, mountains moved. A fund was being set up for us, meal trains being coordinated, an auction set up, a support group filled with thousands created just for us.

We laid in bed in the dark that night, unable to sleep, unable to move, or talk, or think, until we drifted off restlessly for an hour or two. And when we woke, we would find that the story of his death had traveled the world. In one night it had been shared by hundreds of thousands of people, seen by millions on social media outlets, television and news sources.

We saw people we didn’t even know, come together for us and honor him in a way we never imagined. I decided that I would continue to be transparent and share our journey with child loss, it was making a difference, and I wanted, no, needed, to see some sliver of good come from our trauma and devastation.

For 15 months, his story has made its rounds. It has raised awareness for crib safety and SIDS, let other bereaved parents know they aren’t alone, taught those outside the bereaved community how to support those of us in it. We still receive messages from strangers and friends alike daily, telling us he’s impacted their life, helped them understand, made them more attentive.

Sloan has been a catalyst, a life saver, a teacher. He has taught the world a bittersweet lesson, and I’m so thankful people have listened.

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