Life Is Just So Daily

Monday, July 02, 2007

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.

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At 9:52 AM , Blogger Pregnantly Plump said...

I am so sorry for your family's loss and can only imagine what you are going through. The death of a child is something I can't fathom ever getting over.

At 10:10 AM , Blogger Kate said...

I am so sorry for your loss and I am thinking of you in a special way today. I can't imagine coping with the death of a child.

I don't have any children yet, but I do interact with other people's children. Children who have children of their own and I can alert them to this danger and to remind them that if they see a little one alone and crying--in a car or anywhere--they need to tell someone.

At 10:13 AM , Blogger Papa Bradstein said...

I can't begin to imagine how hard that must be for all of you. Our thoughts are with you always, but particularly today.

At 11:01 AM , Blogger Christy said...

I am so sad to hear about little Riley. Locking my car has always been primarily about keeping my belongings safe - but now I truly understand the importance of this seemingly trivial task. I promise, I will never leave my car unlocked again.

At 1:05 PM , Blogger Shauna said...

I am so sorry for the loss you and your family has experienced.

I will never leave the car doors unlocked again. And I wish I could have learned this in a different manner.

At 1:26 PM , Blogger Syd said...

My nephew is my favorite person in this world. I'm...speechless.

So sorry..

At 1:33 PM , Blogger Em said...

Wow how sad, what a lot he cope with and how strong you and your family are! I soooo feel for you!

I'm now glad my car locks automatically after 10mins, but if it didnt i promise i'd lock it.

At 1:55 PM , Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

OH my god.

I can't even. imagine.

My oldest is 2 1/2 and I can see how this could happen. I can see my own son sitting in the car in his car seat crying.

I'm so, so sorry. For you and your sister and your whole family.

At 4:32 PM , Blogger Maria said...

Oh, sweetie...Oh, sweetie. That is all I can come up with...just, oh, sweetie...

Oh, sweetie...

At 6:42 PM , Blogger Bonnie said...

Wow, what a post. Certainly something to think about...not underestimating our children's strength to get into a situation. Thanks for sharing.

At 5:26 AM , Blogger Sweet Pea said...

I wish I could reach out and give you a hug today. I am so sorry for your loss. I will keep your family in my prayers.

At 6:49 AM , Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I am so, so, sorry for your loss, for your sister's loss, for your family's loss. You are so right to remind us to take so much care with our children - they can do far more than we think.

At 6:55 AM , Blogger Part time Mommy said...

OMG just sitting here thinking about him being alone and crying makes my stomach churn. I am so sorry for your familys loss. That's so sad. I've always left my car unlocked. But I will not anymore. My oldest has a facination with driving cars. He hits every button he can get his little hands on. Never again will my car be unlocked.

At 6:57 AM , Blogger MamaMint said...

I am very sorry for your family.

At 7:34 AM , Blogger Zephra said...

It was the image of that child alone and scared in that car which really got to me. I am still unable to control my tears. My son is 2 and I just can't imagine the guilt I would feel, the pain knowing he died such a horrible death.

I wish I had never read this, yet I am so glad I did. I hope others learn from this. I hope this NEVER EVER happens again.

At 7:57 AM , Blogger gmcountrymama said...

I am so sad for you families loss. Thanks for sharing. It is also a good warning for parents and kids. My son let himself into the van a few weeks ago and he was unable to get out. Luckily, I was heading out the door and to the van also. Now I have been teaching him how to open the door from the inside.
My thoughts are with you. I hope your throat feels better.

At 9:38 AM , Blogger cinnamon gurl said...

Oh my gosh, how horrible! I can't imagine...

A lovely tribute to your nephew though, and educational. I would never have thought an unlocked car could pose such a hazard.

Thinking of you and your family...

At 10:22 AM , Blogger Julia said...

I am so sorry...
I came over from your comment on my blog. Thanks for that.
My sister has been one of my biggest rocks. She was also the only one in the family aside from us to have seen A (rather than his pictures). I am just saying it to get to this-- from what it sounds like, you have been for your sister much like mine has been for me. And there are no words to express how important and how helpful that support is. And also? That most people don't understand the grief and pain that comes with being an aunt of a dead kid. I am sorry for that too.

At 12:19 PM , Blogger Mojavi said...

I read this yesterday and it seriously took me a day to process... I cried for you, for your sister and her family and your whole family... I am in tears as I write this. I can't get the vision of him crying in the car out of my head..... your statement of him being alone... Last night as I nursed Kya to sleep I said a prayer for Riley. Now I know why people believe in god, there has to be a place for the children. There has to be a heaven for the babies of the world, there just has to be!

At 1:14 PM , Blogger juliloquy said...

This story breaks my heart. I can't imagine the hurt your family has gone through and is still going through as you mourn Riley. I am thinking of you.

At 8:22 PM , Blogger shoeaddict said...

WOW. I cried so hard at the unfairness of it all. It's just so insane.
I'm so sorry. Just so sorry. Know that I've prayed and cried. I've told my family and friends and promise to lock the car and educate the kids.

PS I found you via a comment on Kate's blog

At 5:19 PM , Blogger Maria said...

You know, I just thought of something else. I remember reading about something similar when Liv was a toddler. It was basically about a three year old who had somehow managed to get out of his bedroom and get outside where he was hit by a car.

It made me take a good long look at Liv's windows and it is also the reason why I got in the habit of checking on her every half hour when she napped. Just in case.

So, as horrible as this was for all of you....maybe it's being news made some people think twice and maybe some lives were saved. Something good, something helpful may have occurred because of all of this.

I am just so sorry that it had to happen at all.

At 2:23 AM , Blogger Mummy M said...

I have tears literally streaming down my face. I cannot imagine what an effect this tragedy must have had on you, your sister and family. You will all be in my thoughts.

Virtual hugs from a long way off,


At 6:52 AM , Blogger Da Mommy said...

Oh girl, I am sooooo sorry for your loss. Keep talkiing, keep processing and keep remembering. That is really the only thing you can do for yourself or for Reilly, I will be passing this on to people as it is a danger people just don't think much about. I have always locked my doors except in the garage. Always.
Losing a child is very different, I have friends who have gone through that and well, I don't think you ever get totally past it. Just keep talking, we are listening. Wish I was there to hand you the tissues. Life is just so unfair.

At 7:02 PM , Blogger Monnik said...

This is so sad. The thought of him alone and crying in there is just so horrible. I'm so sorry for your loss.

I've lost a child (in a much different way - a stillbirth, which sucked but wasn't anything compared to your sister's loss) and I want you to know that you talking to your sis about Riley, and letting her talk about him is such a great gift. So many people get nervous or uncomfortable and never talk about it, and keeping his memory alive like you did in this post is wonderful, and I'm sure it helps your sister immensely. As I'm sure it helps you keep his memory alive too.

At 12:22 PM , Blogger Reid said...

I read this the other day and I just can't let it go. Would you be kind enough to grant me permission to link to it from my wordpress blog? (

I just don't know if a person saying, "hey, watch your kids around cars" is enough--your story is so vivid--really does illustrate the importance.

I am so sorry that your family and little Riley had to go through this and I understand why you feel the need to write about it. Thank you for including pictures--he was a beautiful little boy.

At 4:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry and so sad that your little nephew had to tragically be taken away from yours/his family. Our hearts are with ou. Please try to be strong.

At 9:10 PM , Blogger Cagey said...

Thank you for posting this.

I always, always lock my car no matter where I am because I am naturally paranoid. Before, I chalked my paranoia up to no good reason. Now I have a reason and his name is Riley.


At 10:36 AM , Blogger ed said...


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