Four Years Old.
Today, Riley would have been 4 years old.
For those that know about Riley...I'm sorry if I seem to talk about it a lot...write about it a lot... But, I think about it a lot. I can't help it.
For those that don't know; Riley was my nephew & he died just before Gage was born.
And I'll never stop talking about him, and I'll never stop writing about it, and I'll never forget him.
Four years ago today, I was at work. It was a Wednesday. It was July 2, 2003.
I got the call from my sister that she was going to have the baby that day. So, I asked my boss, "If I hurry & get all of my documentation done, can I go?" She said, "yes." So, there it was, I was at his delivery. My sister wore a hospital gown; Riley wore his birthday suit; and I wore a black linen dress & wore my hair in a low ponytail (as I often did...). They had a whole crew of people there because they didnt expect Riley to be as big as he was, and thought he may need some help breathing when he got here... The actual delivery went so fast. (this, coming form the gal who was NOT in labor & NOT pushing a baby out...) Anyway, it truly seemed like 2 pushes, and he was here. And, he was great! Breathing fine...doing a lot better than they thought he would be doing! He was just fine! Crying, and wiggling...he really surprised everyone. I remember my sister or the doctor asking me what I thought about seeing my first delivery...and I remember saying that it was "sooooo gross, but sooooo cool!" I was there for his very first breath. I was there at the very moment he entered this world.
After that, I took Trystan home to spend the night with me...and then on Thursday night, I took Trystan to Arizona with me. We flew there, and boy, did I have my hands full! When you aren't used to having a toddler around...suddenly being in a very confined plane row of two seats & trying to wrangle him in & get him to settle down...oh boy! [those memories right there make me reluctant to take Gage anywhere by plane...]
Anyway...I took Trystan with me to Arizona for 4th of July so that my sister & James could have some bonding time with Riley, and not have to keep up with Trystan in the mix. And, I am so glad that I did that for them.
The last time I saw Riley was at his 2nd Birthday. We celebrated at Camp Wanica.
He swam, ran around on the playground, got completely dirty, got his clothes wet, got icing all over his face...just had a great time being a 2 year old boy.
Riley & Memma...
Riley swimming with my sister...
2 months & 4 days later, Riley died.
He died on a Tuesday.
I was at home when I was told...It was around 7pm...I was wearing pajama pants & a t-shirt when I got the news from my aunt. My house was a mess b/c I was on bedrest, and not expecting company. I was 17 days away from having my own son.
Apparently, during naptime that day at my sister's house, Riley climbed out of his bedroom window & locked himself in the car in the driveway. He was found later when my brother-in-law went to wake him & his brother from their nap. He wasnt in his room, and so my brother-in-law went outside and found him in the car, locked in, sitting in his carseat. He was just sitting there--& looked like he was sleeping. My sister said they called 911 around 3 or 3:30 when they found him....but it was too late.
My sister said that they did not take Riley to a hospital & attempt to resusitate him, because paramedics were unable to do anything at the scene. My sister said that there were news crews everywhere. She said that they put Riley in a bassinet & covered him with a blanket before transporting him to the ME's office.
This past February, when I was home with Gage during his super-ugly-stomach bug, I was talking to my sister about Riley, and being sad, and missing him, and all those things. She told me something about his death that I didn't know...and I still struggle with. There were some neighborhood children who saw him in the car. They didn't know about the dangers of kids in cars, and so they didn't knock on the door to tell my sister & brother in law...they didn't tell their parents...they didn't tell anyone. It was the time of day when kids were coming home from school...and they passed the car & saw him in there...crying.
He was crying. And scared. And alone. And it breaks my heart. Over & Over & Over again, it breaks my heart. And, I know that every single time I post about this, or talk about this, I just seem to focus on the fact that he died alone. He was absolutely alone and I can't seem to get past that. "God was there." Yes, I know that. Yes, I have faith in that. But it does NOT negate the fact that I am still just angry about it all.
And then I think about the series of events....the car was unlocked in the driveway when he found it. Even if it had been locked, he still would have been in danger because he got out of the window. What if there had been a better or different lock there? And what about the kids who saw him? What if they had just TOLD someone!???
But then I think...that's not how it happened. We can't change anything about that.
Who would have possibly dreamed that toddlers can open big house windows?
Until this happened to our family---leaving a car unlocked in the driveway of a safe neighborhood would not really be THAT big of a deal. "whoops, left the car unlocked. glad I took my purse in the house." You know--no biggie. I mean, each of these details came together & fell right into place for Riley to die the way he did. But each of them---when taken away from the whole story---you wouldn't think about THAT detail being harmful.
And Lord knows I don't want anyone to read the above thoughts & think that I am blaming anyone, because I'm not. I am soooooo not blaming anyone. It's really just the way my mind works & races about the details.
What if those kids had knocked on the door & told my sister?
Then he'd be 4 years old today.
And we'd be buying him Spider Man things & eating cake.
We'd listen to him & Trystan fight over who gets the next turn on whatever toy was the newest & coolest.
We'd watch them play together & wrestle & climb on each other and build forts in the living room out of blankets & whatever else they could get their hands on. And we'd get to watch him run through a sprinkler.
And he'd give us hugs. And big wet Riley kisses. And he would have gotten to meet "Nana's baby."
So, all morning I've tried very very very hard to just be happy. To just think about how lucky I am to have gotten even one of those hugs or big wet Riley kisses. And how I can tell the whole world about him, but I am one of the few who got to know him, and hold him, and smell his sweaty little head after playing all day.
But typing this...just makes me cry. And makes me angry, when I know that I shouldn't be. I know that life isn't fair. And, God never promised that it would be.
So, in closing of my Riley post...always, always, always lock your cars. Don't underestimate the strength & determination of toddlers...they're inquisitive & mischevious, and we love them for it...or in spite of it (depending on the situation)...& when your kids get older---educate them about the dangers of kids in cars. Tell them to get an adult if they see someone locked in a car.
And say a prayer for my family today because we all miss Riley so much! And I know that today will be particularly hard for Tiffany & James.