As I look back on the events of last Monday, they seem a distant dream. I’ve lived an eternity since then. I’ve cried and wept and cried some more. I’ve despaired, and I’ve hurt. My heart burst and felt as though it were ripped from my chest. I’ve pleaded and begged to my God for strength and peace. And He heard my prayers…
I got off work a week ago at 6 am as I usually do. If you read “The Return“, you know how hectic my schedule is. This time, however, I couldn’t feed Mia and go to sleep as I normally do. I had court…six cases on the trial calendar from when I was a detective at the Sheriff’s Office. Instead, I dropped Lena off at work and took Emma and Mia to the sitter. It’s the last time I would see my precious little three-month-old alive.
I was finished in court around 11 am, and I went home to try to grab a few hours sleep before going to pick up the girls. My wife had earlier told me that I was NOT going to get them right after court. She said I needed the rest. After grabbing a bite to eat, I lay down for a nap. The phone woke me up three hours later. It was Michelle (I think) from my wife’s office. She said I needed to get to the baby sitter’s house right away. Something in her tone of voice caught me, and I jumped out of bed. She said Lena was on her way there, and there was something wrong with Mia.
I put on my shoes, grabbed the keys to the Tahoe and ran out the door in a panic. On the way, I called 911. A friend of mine, Jimmy, answered. I asked him if anything was going on at my sitter’s address. He said yes, and I asked if it was a baby. He asked me if it was mine, and I told him yes. All he could say was that it wasn’t good. I BEGGED him to tell me if she was alive or breathing. By protocol, he couldn’t. He just kept telling me it wasn’t good. Finally, his director came on the line and said I needed to get there as quickly as I could. I asked her if I needed to go to the sitter’s or to the hospital. She said the latter.
I changed course and actually beat the ambulance to the ER. I pulled around back to their entrance (they knew me by name and face because of the amount of cases I’ve worked there over the years), and was restrained by a deputy friend of mine as I watched…in horror. They wheeled my Mia out on the stretcher and were breathing for her with a breathing bag.
I told Jacob to let me go. He tried to calm me down, and I assured him that I wouldn’t interfere with the EMT’s or doctors or nurses. I ran inside and stood outside the curtain to the room they carried her to and told them to do whatever they needed. A nurse moved me to an adjacent room, and I fell to my knees. I immediately began to pray to God to save her…to save my Mia. I implored Him to take me instead. I would gladly go in her place. It wasn’t His will for that to happen.
I remember the doctor coming in several times over the next however long it was. Time stood still. He kept telling me that they were working on her, but they didn’t have a pulse. I told him to work on her like she was a cop because she was a cop’s kid. They tended to her for an extra 30 minutes. I asked him how long she had been gone, and he said he didn’t know. I would find out later that only about 25 minutes had passed from the time she went to sleep to the time she was found unresponsive. Father God called her home in those 25 minutes.
At some point in time, they brought my wife into the room I was in. She got down with me, and we wept…great, heaving, gut-wrenching sobs that only a parent grieving for a child they were losing could cry. I began to pray for strength and peace. I shifted from being stricken at the loss of our Mia to having to be the rock for my wife and daughters. Lena couldn’t stand…we just sat on the floor in the room, clinging to each other. She kept asking for God to breathe life back into her baby. Again, it wasn’t His plan. Strength and peace, Father. I recited it over and over again through the tears that fell like rain to the floor. Strength and peace.
We left the hospital a short time later. The nurses, doctors, EMT’s and hospital staff at Coffee Regional Medical Center were as sympathetic as they could be. In retrospect, they went above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. I thank them greatly for all they did.
I can’t remember what followed immediately afterward. I know that we met with our sitter and her husband. She’s been keeping Emma for almost three years, and has been keeping children for over 40 years. It’s the only job she’s ever known. She told us that she fed Mia a bottle and burped her twice. She then rocked her to sleep and lay her down on her back in the playpen. She was about eight feet away from her the entire time. Her son had come in and needed to get into the room beside the playpen. It was then that they discovered her not breathing. They reacted immediately, calling 911 and performing CPR, and I thank them for all they did as well. There was NOTHING they could have done to prevent Mia from going home.
Later in the week, at visitation at the funeral home, the deputy coroner gave me the news that I had already expected. She and I worked many infant, toddler and child death cases together. I’ve seen enough of them to know SIDS or SUIDS when they happen. Mia’s preliminary autopsy report (it’s Georgia law that an autopsy be performed on infants that pass away) said that Mia was normal. She just went to sleep and didn’t wake up. That was God’s will.
I wanted to share this story of Mia’s passing with you for two reasons. One, because I wanted to record it while it was fresh in my mind. And two, because you need to know that I’m not mad at God. I’ve asked why, of course, and I’ve doubted. But at the same time, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that He sent His Baby Butterfly to us for as long as we had her. I’m thankful that she will never know pain or suffering… sorrow or fear… disease or death… heartache or heartbreak. I’m thankful that she’s with my God right now, playing in His garden. She’s preparing the way for the time when the rest of her family will be there with her… to tickle her nose and make that one dimple on her cheek glow with the rest of her beautiful smile.
My next post will share with you how our Lord and Savior has not abandoned us during our time of greatest need. He’s shown me over the course of the last week that He’s holding us closer to Him than ever before. Were it not for His supernatural strength, I wouldn’t have been able to speak at Mia’s service or carry her out of the chapel to the car to her final resting place.
Until next time, love on your children and loved ones like there’s no tomorrow. You never know when God’s plan will take a decidedly different turn than the one that’s in your head. Never miss an opportunity to tell them you love them or hug them or kiss them. Our time here on this earth is entirely too short and fleeting.
God bless you, and thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. My family and I feel each and every one of them, so please, don’t stop sending them our way. We’ll need them greatly in the coming weeks.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
The metamorphosis of the butterfly.