On Saturday, August 20th 2016 I stood in the front of a standing room only filled funeral home, packed with hundreds of people, and spoke these words on behalf of my 2 year old son. Never in a million years did I think I would be standing there, giving a eulogy for my child. I know there were many people unable to attend Grayson’s Celebration of Life, and a few have asked if I would share what I spoke.
When I sat down to think about what I even wanted to say, I felt lost because I wasn’t supposed to be doing this. I wasn’t supposed to be writing about this. I knew I had lots I could share, but I didn’t want to. I spoke from the heart and I wish I could have shared every little detail about Grayson’s life, but the 11 pages I had typed were enough for people to understand just how special and loved he was.
I hope that as you read these words, you know just how honest and heartfelt I was. I hope you understand how truly hard it was to type these words and to speak these words to others.
I know my sweet Grayson will never be forgotten and I will be sure of that. He was the most perfect little boy, he still is and always will be.
First off, I’d like to start by thanking each and everyone of you for being here today and for those who couldn’t make it, but are here in our hearts to celebrate this beautiful life of our sweet sweet baby boy, Grayson. I want to thank those of you that had any impact on Grayson’s life. He truly was the most beautiful blonde haired blue-eyed little boy and he always will be.
I might have to stop myself a few times to gain my composure as I read this and I’m not sure if this will be the longest anyone has ever spoke at a celebration of life, but for me talking, sharing my feelings and sharing my love and memories about my Grayson has helped me this far and during this time I want to be able to tell a little more of our story and about our life that we got to spend with Grayson. I want to share with you some of my favorite memories and some of things only a select few people know because I was too afraid to share with others.
Starting back in October of 2014 I had a weird feeling I was pregnant, I was working at a daycare in Lafayette and Brent was working for Purdue. I woke up one morning and told myself I needed to take a pregnancy test. Brent had left for work and he was in a 4 hour long meeting where he wasn’t able to answer his phone at the time. I was so anxious and nervous to take the pregnancy test, but excited at the same time because Brent and I knew we were made to be parents. Before I went to work on this morning I went to Walmart to buy a pregnancy test and I couldn’t wait until after work to take the test so I went into the Walmart bathroom and took the test, minutes later the test showed up positive. I immediately texted Brent a picture of the test because he couldn’t answer his phone to talk. Minutes later I get a text back and he says why would you tell me this through text and when I’m in a 4 hour long meeting and cant’ answer the phone. I told him I just couldn’t wait to tell him. He told me to get more tests to bring home just so we were for sure and when we got home I think we ended up taking a few more, all positive, and we knew from there our lives were forever changed.
We had a great pregnancy, no morning sickness, some nausea here and there, but overall we were growing a healthy little boy. During my pregnancy is when Brent had approached me about his new job opportunity in New York City. I am going to be completely honest when I say I was scared and nervous and often felt sadness throughout my pregnancy because I knew just a few weeks after Grayson’s birth we would be moving. I was sad because this was going to be the first grand baby for our parents and nephew to our siblings. I felt guilt for taking him away and not allowing them the time to have with him. I cried a lot and often times felt like I couldn’t be happy during my pregnancy because I knew we would be leaving.
At 23 and 24 years old Brent and I were starting an adventure that not many people our age get the opportunity to do. Although I felt that guilt at the time of moving, I can say now that I don’t regret one bit of taking that step in our life. It helped shape us as a couple, make us better parents to Grayson, and we were able to see parts of the world and share those memories with Grayson at just a young age. Brent and I were so excited to be able to share these memories with him when he got older. He may not have remembered visiting all of these places, but I took hundreds and hundreds of pictures so that one day we would be able to share with him all of the amazing places he was able to see in his life. After a year of living in NJ we made the decision to move back home to be closer to our family and I want to thank Brent’s boss for having trust and faith in Brent to continue with the company and allow us to be here with our families.
Grayson was 6 days late, we were induced and after 9 hours we ended up in a c-section. And when I first heard that sweet little cry tears immediately fell from my face. I remember looking making eye contact with Brent and telling him ‘we did it’.
Over the first few months of his life, we had many family visits at our home, we made our big move, we took our first trip into the big city of New York, I took him on a plane for the first time at 2 months by myself, and he started baby gym class.
Grayson was often considered the ‘world traveler’. He got to see many amazing places in his short 2 years. He’s visited Madison Square Garden, Times Square, Central Park, Staten Island, he’s seen the Statue of Liberty and Grand Central Station. We’ve walked Wall Street, toured Ground Zero, attended the Today Show. He slept the whole time at the Macy’s Day Parade and sat so patiently at Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular. We celebrated his first birthday at Sesame Place in Pennslyvania and recently took our first family vacation all around Michigan. He’s been on the set of Chicago Fire the TV show, he’s been to Dover International Racetrack, and the Monmouth Horse Racetrack.
Grayson was such a smart little boy. He was able to pick up the words to songs fairly quickly, count to 15 and say his ABC’s before he turned 2. He was walking by 10.5 months old and once he started talking there was no turning back! I would constantly hear him say, mom, mom, mom. I would say yes Grayson and he would just look at me and smile then again say mom, mom, just to make sure I would stop anything I was doing and look at him.
Sometimes in life we get caught up doing little things in life that at the time I thought were important or needed to be done right away. I truly realize now that means nothing. When your child needs you to look at them, to play with them, to hug or kiss them, do it. Cleaning your house means nothing and watching tv is a way to pass time.
I have so many amazing memories I could stand up here and share, but I know many of you have seen all of the amazing things we did during Grayson’s time here with us.
There are a few things I wanted to share that I had not shared publicly because at the time I was ashamed of myself, and felt like a horrible parent. But after the fact can now look back at and realize that this is life and things happen, and just because something happens doesn’t make you a bad parent or a failure at being a parent. Don’t ever say you are a bad parent, or a failure, or you messed up. It’s life and we all make mistakes, and absolutely no one is perfect.
Grayson and I had went to the mall one day while we lived in NJ and when we walked out it was pouring down rain. I took him out of the stroller and held him so I could run to the car and put him straight in his car seat. Typically as soon as I stick him in I immediately buckle him in. This time I sat him in there quickly so I could get the stroller put in the trunk since it was pouring outside. I went back around to grab something and get him buckled in and when I went to open the door it was locked. I had just locked my child in the car with not only my keys, but my cell phone. I was standing in the pouring rain and immediately began crying and freaking out. Some guy happened to see me freaking out and he walked over and I told him I locked my keys in my car and I needed to call my husband. He got Brent on the phone and the first thing Brent says is “did you call the police” I said no I’m getting ready to. Brent at the time was at work an hour train ride away in the city. We get the police called and they finally show up, only to have to wait another 10 minutes or so for another cop to get there with the supplies to try to open my car. I was freaking out Grayson would somehow pull himself over the side of the carseat and find something on the floor and stick in his mouth. I was such a mess telling the officers I just wanted them to break open the windows I needed him out of there. They kept telling me he’s sitting just fine in there playing with his feet if we think he is in any danger we will immediately bust the windows. Finally the police officer wanted to talk to Brent and later to find out, that office told Brent that she thought his wife was unstable. I was, I’m sure. They probably thought I was a pyscho mom. But now I look back and often times catch myself laughing at the thought of them calling me unstable.
Just a few months ago we were at my Grandma’s house and we had her windows open. Grayson got mad and decided to run over and he thought he was just going to slap his hands on the window, but he ran and hit the screen and did a summersault about 3.5 feet to the ground. I was sitting on the couch and I literally jumped through the window after him. I don’t know how I ducked enough to fit through the window but I jumped right out to him. I was so scared that he was going to break his neck or an arm or leg. I think I cried that day for hours and Grayson cried for maybe 10.
These two incidents made me feel awful, but made me realize we can’t all be perfect and protect our children from everything even though we want to.
Grayson truly made me the person I am today. He made my love for Brent stronger and my appreciation for life greater. His smile would light up the room and people constantly were stopping us in the store telling us just how cute and handsome he was.
This past week has been the absolute worst week of my life. You think that when you lose someone this close to you, you will know what the pain feels like, but truly until it happens to you, you have no clue what it feels like. There is a hole in my heart that will never be able to be replaced. We have so many unanswered questions. Why did God do this to us? Why Grayson? What did he do to deserve this?
Brent and I have talked the past few days and keep telling ourselves although we are at the lowest of lows we have to seek the positive to keep us going. We are both grieving differently and that’s okay. There’s no timeline on getting over this and although the days will pass by our memories of Grayson will always be with us. I thank the Lord everyday that pictures have always meant so much to me, because as you look around this room I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have all of these pictures and the videos that I do. I may not be able to hear his voice in person, but I have videos I will be able to listen to everyday of my life.
I have heard many people who have lost someone dear to them, that they often times look for signs that that person is there. And even though it hasn’t been a week yet, I feel like God has already shown me many signs that Grayson is here with us. I looked in the beautiful sky the other night and flying high in the sky was one lonesome plane and I knew that was him, he loved looking at planes and trying to reach for them in the sky. In one of the hospital rooms there were butterflys on the wall that I was trying to get Grayson to focus on to relax him and just a few nights ago someone brought me over a butterfly wind charm and there happened to be a word that ran across the front and the letter G was the only letter in the middle of the butterfly.
They say a baby born after a child’s loss is a rainbow baby. Grayson is going to still be the absolute best big brother ever. His brother or sister will always have a guardian angel watching over them. We had Grayson’s play room decorated in many different colors and he loved to paint and I don’t know if this is a sign that goes along with having a rainbow baby but I’m taking it as he knew and little did we know just the other night someone told me there was a rainbow in the sky.
Grayson loved the song Hello by Adele. It was the first radio song he learned and was able to sing to. I swear it too was his song for a reason. And I know that he is telling me “hello from the other side”
It’s been hard for me to hold things together, but knowing we have another little one coming in just 5 months I am feeling a little at ease. I know I have to be strong and healthy for myself. This baby may be the saving grace that we needed to help keep us together and help keep our faith strong. We find out in 9 days what we are having and for weeks now Grayson has been calling the baby in my belly sissy. If we find out that day that is what we are having I truly believe that too would be a sign and Grayson knew and wanted us to know. Either way I hope I am able to see Grayson in his sibling, to know that he’s there. And this baby isn’t coming to replace Grayson, but it’s coming because Brent and I have much more love to offer.
I want to thank Brent for being the most amazing Father to Grayson. Grayson adored Brent and everytime I look at Brent I will think of Grayson. Brent has worked his butt off to give Grayson and I everything possible. I know Grayson got his brains from Brent and I always felt that he would be an engineer or a brain surgeon or a lawyer. He would do big things and be just like his daddy. I know I wasn’t the perfect wife and we have had our moments like any parents, but I am thankful to do life with you Brent. You are my rock and we will get through this together. We will be even better parents than we were before because of the things we have and will have to go through in life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me Grayson.
I want to thank Riley Hospital, specifically the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for absolutely everything they did for us while we were there. Those doctors and nurses truly did everything they could for us. The hardest part for me is the constant misdiagnosis we were given and the fact no one could tell me if my child was going to be okay. I wanted to be looked in the eyes and told my child was going to be okay, and I couldn’t get that. I understand that in this profession no promises can be made, and they were optimistic he would be okay. The last thing I wanted was to be woken up from a short nap, after my son being stable and his numbers looking normal, to doctors doing chest compressions on my child and only a short time later everything being over with.
This terrible thing that took my baby boy is something I never wish on my worst enemy. We don’t know where he picked this bacteria up from and we may or may never know. I do know that we can do our best to help prevent things from potentially happening. Whether it was something he ate, or something he touched, or something that was picked up from the State Fair, we don’t know. Wash your hands with soap and water, make sure your food is prepared properly, make sure things are clean and sanitary.
As of Thursday evening, my Facebook post I shared that told our story had been shared over 7,000 times and I have received close to 400 messages from people I don’t know, not only from the U.S., but Canada, England and South Africa. The reach our story has got has blown my mind and if I can help just one family’s life I will feel I have made a difference.
I think God puts us on this Earth for us each to fulfill our plan. I guess he thought Grayson fulfilled his plan and was perfect enough to go early to Heaven. I know my plan was to be a mother in life, but I think along with being a mom God had greater plans for me. I think he wanted me to be a voice for Grayson, to help change the world and advocate for a cause. I don’t want any parent to have to go through what we have been through. Brent and I plan to work together to find out more about HUS and help spread awareness.
In closing, we ask that people make a donation in Grayson’s honor to Riley Children’s hospital -Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
We loved that sweet boy and I just hope he knows how much we did. Please continue to talk about him and share memories of him. Please don’t stop talking about him to me or sharing pictures and videos. For me it helps. I don’t want him to ever be forgotten and I know he won’t. He was my baby boy and he always will be. I will get through the days, they may be hard, but I will make it through each day because now I have something to look forward to.