05 January 2012

The family I lost, part 2

After my daughter passed away, as we were sitting in the hospital holding her for the last time, and trying to say good-bye, there was already an investigation going on, into her passing.
Within 2 hours of leaving the hospital, Shanna and I were brought in for questioning (more an interrogation) and grilled about the events of the last 24hours.
{{{ In retrospect, I can understand the process, when two very young parents, both still in college, working full time and such have a child pass away. I can see, now, why they acted as they did, in the investigation}}}
I am pretty certain the reason either of us got released was solely because my parents had been there the entire time leading up to her passing.
Even still, they treated me as though I had murdered my child, up until my release.
We were given the opportunity to get back into the apartment to grab some belongings, but we couldn't even get ourselves to the door. Her Christmas presents were all over the front room..and neither of us could bear that. My mother collected our things for us, and we went to the hotel they had gotten, because it was now the following day, and they had been kicked out of the apartment by police, after retrieving Christian from social services.

The next 48hrs came and went, the autopsy found absolutely nothing, and her passing was put down as "SIDS" (sudden infant death syndrome). I wish, to this day, we had some type of specific answer, what we could have done to have prevented it, but we don't. There were no blankets, stuffed animals, or pillows in her crib. It was just her, in her cotton footed pajamas, still exactly where she'd been placed, on her back. Her head facing out into the room, because she liked to see what was going on around her, even when she was supposed to be sleeping.
The most peace we got was being told that she never woke up, and never appeared to have been in any pain or distress.

The non-relationship Shanna and I had was irrevocably damaged that day. We made decisions about the wake/memorial service, cremation, and funeral together, but the ties that bound us has come unraveled and there was no repairing them. After the service, which proved our community's love, with over 200 friends and family coming to pay their respects, Shanna and Christian left for California, they stayed with her aunt as she worked to recover from what had happened.

I returned home for a small funeral, in the family cemetery. Even though she was cremated, I wanted her to have a place. She was buried next to my biological dad, so she will never be alone.
I didn't stay home very long. I'm from a small-ish, semi rural town, and it became more stifling every day, as I was a bit of a pariah, with no one quite knowing what to say. I escaped back to the city... My parents had packed up the apartment for us, selling/returning most of the Christmas stuff to help with the costs of her services. All of Victorias "real" belongings, after splitting them with Shanna, we're packed up in 3 boxes, sitting in an empty room the siblings had once shared.
Being there didn't help at all, but it gave me a place away from the world which I thought I wanted, but in actuality only helped in me dropping to the lowest point of my life. It was at this point that seriously considered suicide, not seeing a light being possible at the end of my tunnel. My sister happened to call me, checking up, and sensing I was in a very bad place, drive nine hours to be with me. She convinced me to reconsider my options, and told me I needed a blank slate, fresh start to get me out of this hole. She offered her home to me as long as I needed. I conceded to her ideas. And the next day I walked into a recruiters office and within 2wks I was leaving for Basic training. I became a medic, and by the time I finished training, the Armed Forces were in full retaliation for 9/11.
I deployed a month out of training. Our short, 9 month deployment drew out to 18 months. It was very busy, as we were constantly moving, doing raids, and rucking or convoying everywhere. In total, my vehicles got hit over 40 times by IEDs. Be it my specific vehicle, or one of the ones in front or behind me. I guess we were fortunate they hadn't figured out how to make them more lethal, yet.
All the activity kept me busy, and helped my broken wing heal. I even managed to get around to finishing school, even though by then I was no longer interested in law.

Fast forward, 8 years after Victoria passed, to the day, my twins came into the world. And it was definitely a fight for them, they were born at 33wks and 31wks development, and my son had a hole in his heart, premature lungs, and an obstructed bowel that were all operated on within his first month of life. (the lungs weren't operated on). He was incubated at one point, CPAPed at another, and eventually, after 29 days he was on supplementary air, via a nasal cannula, and didn't desat.
I believe with all my heart that Victoria protected her baby brother (and sister) through all their ordeals. My son had trouble remembering to breath, he stopped breathing about 30 times in his first few months. And it scared the hell out of me, having already lost one child. Thankfully, he pushed through all his troubles and is now an amazing 2 year old little boy.

There is now a new balance in my life. And fortunately, I have an amazing wife who supports me in most everything.
This past June would have been Victoria's 10th birthday. My wife coordinated balloon releases on her birthday, for everyone who wanted to be involved. Here, at duty station, Shanna in California, my parents in Kansas, friends back in the city, my inlays in Europe, and many others released pink balloons at noon, when she was born, with messages written on them.

When I had joined the army, and reached my duty station in Va, I was able to get a memorial for her there, as it had been a place I loved growing up, and I wanted to have a place....
This December my entire family was in Va for the holidays, to wish me luck with deployment, and to celebrate the twins second birthday. Seeing as they were born on the anniversary of her passing, I had been struggling with how to honor her without overshadowing the two children I still have, and vice versa. So on the 27th, we held private sunrise remembrance at her memorial. Teenager stayed home with the twins as they were still asleep, but everyone else came out. Shanna and Christian came out too. We have kept in touch over the years, but it was the first time we'd seen each other since she left. Christian is a tall, and amazing young man now, though he is still haunted by the events of ten years ago. As he grew older, he was able to process what his 4 year old self couldn't understand, and it has left a profound impact on him.
Shanna was fortunate enough to meet as understanding a husband as I had a wife. She has never been able to overcome what happened, and have another child, but she is thankful everyday for the time she has with Christian and his two stepbrothers.

After the remembrance, we went home to prepare for the twins birthday party. They "know" they have another sister, but are too young to even begin to grasp the concept of her passing, so we had decided to leave them home this year.
Maybe in a few years we will integrate them into our new tradition, but not until they are old enough to understand setting a little time aside for remembrance, among times of celebration.

}}}}}}}}}Victoria Angel{{{{{{{{{
June 30, 2001- December 27, 2001

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add your thoughts, praise, or belittleance (yes, now a word) here!