Life Is Just So Daily

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Two Years Without Riley

For those who know me, or have visited my blog for any extended period of time....well, then y'all know that 2 years ago, my nephew, Riley, died.

Riley died on 9/6/5. He was 2 years, 2 months, & 4 days old.
I was at home on bedrest, BFP (Big, Fat, Pregnant).
His death was heat related as he accidentally locked himself in the family car.
For some reason, when I post about this....I routinely tell the whole story.
Many of you already know the story, and why do I continue to post it? I've asked myself that question quite a bit. Maybe I post it because I know that the stigma of kids dying in hot cars is that "oh, I can't believe someone would leave a baby in a car!" and I don't want anyone just assuming that anyone put him in the car, or that he was left there by irresponsible adults who just didn't care for him....or any of those other horrible things that people immediately jumped to....

During naptime, he climbed out his bedroom window (something that was very unexpected, not planned for, & he was not allowed to do...not expected to do.) He went to the family car parked in the driveway, and it was a kiddo's playground. I imagine him pretending to drive, and playing around. Nobody there to tell him "no". And I imagine him climbing up in his seat & his little imagination taking flight about the places he might go.

My mind goes to his death. The moments around his death. Fear, if he had it. Pain, if he had it. And the loneliness....the being alone of it all just kills me. Even my sister---his mother---tries to help me make peace with that; he wasn't alone, God was there....he wasn't alone, Aunt Nell & Aunt Jean were there....
I can hear those things, but not wrap my brain around that. I can't imagine those moments. Moments where he was crying, and alone.

In February I learned that some school children were walking home (either from school, or the bus stop, whatever....makes no difference) & they saw Riley in the car, crying.
Riley was all alone in the car, crying. Stuck. Hot. And dying.
He was dying.

And I think about those little children. They later learned that Riley died there in that car. Do they feel guilty? They are just kids. I do not want them to be emotionally or mentally traumatized by the knowledge that they saw him there alone & crying & did nothing. I'm sure they were never educated about the dangers of kids in cars.
But it does not negate the fact that I continue to think about the "what if"....what IF they had just told someone? What if a lot of things, though. And the "what if" is NOT what happened. What happened is that nobody could have known that a series of events or circumstances would fall into exactly into their place & that Riley would die that day.

One of my sister's biggest fears is that people will forget Riley because he "didn't save the world" or cure any global diseases....he was so small & his life was so short.

Another part of why I feel the need to tell the story is education.
Who would have DREAMED that a 2 year old could open a house window?
Not me. I would guess that Gage could probably BREAK a window, and that could happen in a split second! But open a window??? If you had asked me that question without having experienced this situation in my own family----I would have told you, "absolutely not."
Leave a car unlocked in your driveway? Who would think that a child may go out there unsupervised & get locked in? If you don't let your kids play outside unsupervised, then you may or may not think about the dangers around....I mean, if you are used to being there to guide them & protect them, and keep them from getting into danger, then great. Your mind is focused on those things: broken glass, wear your shoes outside, don't go near a hot grill, & stay away from the cars. But when you are inside, you are not necessarily thinking about that broken glass, or grill, or car. All of those things could still hurt or kill your child if you are not there to watch them. You know, before this happened to my family, I may have thought, "Gosh, I hope my car is locked so my stereo doesn't get stolen." When this happened to our family, suddenly I thought, "I know my car is locked, because no matter what, I don't want another child to die like that. It won't happen in my car."

So...the car was unlocked, & that's where he died. Does that make it my sister & brother in law's fault? No. They never could have known about the whole series of events that led to the fatal outcome. Just too many factors, you know? The window, going outside during naptime....sure his room got quiet. He wasn't in there. you would think, "hey, it's quiet, he's asleep." And you can't blame them for sleeping when the kids were sleeping. That's what all the seasoned parents advise, isn't it?
So...back to my point about education.

Cars can be sooooo very dangerous for little ones. And I found this website about kids & cars & safety.
Parents need to read this stuff. It tells stories of all kinds of dangers that cars can pose, things that you may not know.
For example, I learned about how many cars that have electric seat adjustments have it working in a way that even when the key is not in the ignition & the car is not on, the seat adjustment mechanisms can still work. One child (at least...) has died because of an accident with the seat moving.

Just all kinds of safety things on there to be aware of.

So......there's that.
It's on my mind.
I think of Riley every single day.
And pretty soon, Gage will be his exact same age.
Gage's 2nd b-day is later this month...and I think about how the last time I saw Riley was at his 2nd birthday party.

And then there's my own baby....I picture my baby in Heaven, even though he was so tiny, and in the eyes of the law didn't even count as a baby. I use the "he" even though I don't know if the baby was a boy or a girl. [symptom wise, I tend to think it was a girl...but you know all of that stuff is unreliable...] I picture a healthy, perfect, full-term baby, full of life in Heaven. And I picture Riley taking him or her under his wing.
And two years ago, who would have thought that my mind would create that image? That Riley & Masyn would be together in Heaven? And maybe we really leave our body & human form behind, and there are just beautiful bright shining souls up there...I don't know...but I believe that they are together. Playing somewhere. Our little angel babies....

But it's not fair.
God promised to be just, but he never promised to be fair.

Nana misses you, Riley.
Right now, your big brother just started kindergarten.
You would be so jealous....I know.
Your mom would have loved some one on one home alone time with you...but, as much as you loved your big'd be so sad to be left behind.
You'd be potty trained now & wearing big boy underwear all of the time.
You'd run & play & get sweaty & dirty just like you used to. And you'd be 4 years old. You'd love to see your daddy's biiiiiiiiiiig truck. From what I hear, it's like the biggest bestest truck ever, and you would have loved to ride in it.
We all just miss you.
Riley, take care of Nana's baby...

Christmas 2004 (Riley, my sister, Trystan)

Riley's last birthday

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At 12:03 AM , Blogger ~love said...

my heart just aches for you. i know exactly what you are talking about your thought processes regarding his last moments and the children who saw him crying. thank you for sharing so openly and honestly.
you are helping riley leave a legacy by writing from your heart and bringing awareness about the danger of cars.
riley & masyn in heaven together: so heartbreaking, yet so beautiful. {{{hug}}}

At 12:47 AM , Blogger shoeaddict said...

I want you to know that I started reading your blog around the last time you talked about Riley. My best friend has a two year old (3 in Feb- where does the time go?) and I told her this story. She has a sister with 3 lovely little girls. We've told lots of people about Riley and what can happen with an unlocked car. EVERY person we've told never thought of it.

Sure, they'd thought of child safety in the car when they were there but, not to simply lock the door. And to educate their older kids about the dangers of playing in the car alone.

So, you see, your sister has nothing to fear. Riley is leaving a legacy. I'm so sorry that it had to be this one though.

I love your images of Masyn & Riley together.

At 3:00 AM , Blogger Em said...

Your post about Riley always make me well up they are so sad.

I have learnt something from your story tho, only small thing i did and not directly assosiated.

Our spare room bed is quite high up and next to the window, my neice is 4yrs old and sleeps in the bed when stays. Non of upstairs windows have locks, so when she came to stay last time i made my husband drag the matteress off on the floor so she couldnt climb up to the window as i was scared she fall out if opened, its a first floor bedroom. We are having locks fitted on all the upstars windows in october for this reason.

I know its not the same but it is Riley i think of when windows are assosiated

At 4:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have not heard this story before so I am glad you reposted it.

I am so sorry.

I can't possibly imagine the pain and suffering your family has gone through with this tragedy.

I wishI had some words of encouragement for you. But this story is quite sad and I have nothing...

I send you hugs.

At 5:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 5:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lainey you and your family are in my prayers. I'm sorry this horrible accident happen to your beautiful nephew. Tell the story every year if it helps. Each time you tell it be sure one parent, aunt, sister, or grandmother becomes more aware of the dangers of unlocked cars. Believe it saves another life and that is how you can celebrate Riley's life. I'm sure too that he's with Masyn. They aren't alone and they are watching down on their loved ones. BIG HUG!

At 9:11 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Believe in those beautiful, bright, shining little souls.

And thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story - I will pass it along for others to learn from.

At 10:19 AM , Blogger Jeninacide said...

This is the first time I have read about Riley. It is so tragic and heartbreaking. My heart goes out to you and your family. I also think you are doing a great thing by doing what you can to educate people and get the word out of some of the dangers that you would never even THINK of! As a soon to be parent I know that there is a lot I have to learn and every little bit helps!


At 11:55 AM , Blogger Pregnantly Plump said...

Just like others, I have told lots of people about what happened to Riley. I know it's changed my outlook, and although we were pretty good about locking our cars, we make sure they are locked now. And our windows are also sealed. I know that the others I tell this story have also taken extra precautions. Thank you for sharing this again. I am so, so sorry for your family's loss.

At 2:45 PM , Blogger Stephanie said...

I feel so bad for you and am so sad that something so awful happened. I don't blame you for having the feelings and thoughts that you did...even still. It is a natural reaction. You are keeping Riley's memory going along with everyone who knew and loved him. I am sure Riley and Masyn are together in heaven and that is a beautiful thought. Thinking of you...

At 9:52 PM , Blogger Kila said...

How devastating. I'm so sorry. Now that you shared Riley with us, he won't be forgotten. I hope he's having fun in heaven with his cousin.

At 10:24 PM , Blogger gmcountrymama said...

Even if he didn't save the world, by continuing to share his story, Riley might save a child. Isn't that the same thing?
I left your blog open at work tonight so I could share his story with my co-workers. I think it is wonderful you continue to write about Riley.

At 6:21 AM , Blogger Jenster said...

Oh, Honey. I didn't know about Riley and, even though tears are streaming down my face right now, I'm so glad you posted it again. I can tell you I will NEVER forget him.

My kids are too old for me to be concerned about them in a car or an unsafe carseat, but I will be locking my car from here on out so another child doesn't end up in there.

At 4:35 PM , Blogger Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

Ever since you told this story on Riley's birthday, I think about it often. I never once thought a 2 year old could open a window - or a car door. Or close a car door.

I hope you can one day be at peace with what happened.

At 7:12 PM , Blogger Eva said...

I am so sorry. Glad you shared.

At 11:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found your blog. Sadly, not in time for my grand-nephew, Nekoda Rogers, who passed away in a tragic hot car accident 4 weeks ago today. He would have turned 3 on Oct. 6, 2007. It was very similar to Riley's. The temp. that day was 101-102 degrees. If there is any way we can help you get the word out about unlocked cars, please let me know. You can contact me through myspace (NikkouDaisuke).

At 11:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry... my brain is still slow. I'm sure you can relate even two years after your tragic loss. It's just too much to take in all at once. NikkouDaisuke is the YouTube "me". You can contact me on MySpace here (and I hope you will). Hugs, Kate


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