Life Is Just So Daily

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Three Years Later....

Today's the day. It's been three years since Riley died.

It's hard to believe that since his birth, he's been gone longer than he was alive.

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.
Please don't forget him. Think of him as you lock your car. Think of him as you talk to your children about car safety & how they need to alert an adult if they ever see a child left alone in a car.

And...did you the state of Texas, it is LEGAL to leave your child(ren) unattended in the car for up to 5 minutes? Your child may not die of hypothermia or hyperthermia in 5 minutes....but a lot can happen in five minutes.
...I suppose that's a different soap box to climb on for another time.

For now, say a little prayer for my sister & brother in law.
Tell Riley's story, and remind others of the dangers of kids in & around cars!



At 7:39 AM , Blogger Elaine said...

When my uncle was little, he and my grandma drove to the post office to take care of some business (this was like 1950 or 60 something). My grandma left the car running and ran in to do her business and, in the few minutes she was gone, my uncle PUT THE CAR IN GEAR AND CRASHED IT INTO THE POST OFFICE! The real kicker is that he was not only a small child, but he is mentally handicapped. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT KIDS CAN DO IN FIVE MINUTES!

Thanks for telling the story again. I always read it every time you do. The story about my uncle is a funny family memory now, but it could just as easily have been a tragedy.

At 9:06 AM , Blogger Zephra said...

"and why do I continue to post it?"

You tell it because he should not be forgotten and his death could save someone else.

At 9:29 AM , Blogger Jenster said...

I can't believe it's been three years. Such a tragedy. Every time I hear of that sort of thing happening of think of him.

At 9:57 AM , Blogger Kate said...

I am so sorry for your loss, for your sister and her family's loss, for your entire family and the world who will not get to see Riley grow up.

You won't know how many kids you save by educating others. I think about this when I leave my car--I don't have kids, but there are some in the neighborhood and I wouldn't want anyone to get hurt in my car (or any other one). I wouldn't have thought it before you educated me.

At 11:32 AM , Blogger shoeaddict said...

I'm with Kate in that you have educatd me. I think of you and Riley everytime I get out of my car and lock the doors. I've been reading your blog for awhile and right when I first started reading you posted about Riley. It affected me and I tell people all the time.

I will pray for your family.

At 11:35 AM , Blogger Christy said...

I read Riley's story last year, and I have been faithfully locking my car for the past year. Thank you for sharing this story.

At 2:01 PM , Blogger Beth said...

I do remember this story and I'm glad you repeated it. I've told others so that they too will learn from it.
Riley won't be forgotten.

At 6:31 PM , Blogger Bonnie said...

Everytime you tell the story on your site , I am just struck through the heart by sadness. But keep telling it. If it makes one person avoid a tragedy, it is worth it. I am certainly more aware of what a 2 year old can do just by reading Riley's story. Thanks.

At 9:56 PM , Blogger kim-d said...

It is my opinion that you are MEANT to share Riley's story, always. Because you just never know how many people read it and are educated by it, and then spread the word, and on and on...

That, I think, is Riley's legacy--that is being carried out by his loving aunt. This is what you CAN do for him, and what you should do for him. I personally think it is a beautiful and important thing you do, even though it makes me cry. Your sister and brother-in-law need to know that Riley will NEVER be forgotten. Never.


At 8:15 PM , Blogger Ann(ie) said...

Sweetheart, I am so glad you posted this and continue to post about this. I am so cautious to lock my car now. You are saving lives by talking about it and I can't thank you enough. My prayers to your sis and you and your family. xo.

At 6:59 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Wow. I think you retell the story for two reasons: 1 being education. I never thought of that, but I will defintitely make sure my stepson knows...and his friends. And also my car usually stays locked out of habit, but I'll keep this in mind anyway. 2. I think it's therapeutic for you to tell the story. You keep his memory alive anyway but this helps too.

Thank you for sharing. God bless you and your family, and of course, Riley.

At 7:23 AM , Blogger Steph said...

Sweet little Riley... He is in my prayers along with you and your family. I think it is great that you repost the story. I am sure you have helped save other children's lives. xoxo

At 7:31 AM , Blogger Jenny said...

I've read this story before in one of your previous posts. I told everyone I could about it. So sad! Your family is in my prayers. I will always keep my car locked from now on!

I hate when I see parents leave there children in the car. I have moments where I think, "Hmmm...Camden is asleep, I'll just run right in the store and grab some milk, he'll be fine." Then, I remember all these things that have happened to children in a split second. Things happen!! Thanks for posting this story. It will open more eyes.

At 8:49 AM , Blogger Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Thank you so much for continuing to tell us Riley's story. I am thinking of you and your family and your awful heartache.
It is so true that a lot can happen in a car in minutes. I was only 2 when my mom ran into the neighbour's house to grab a grocery list and I managed to extricate myself from my carseat, get into the front seat and put the car into gear driving my baby sister and I across the road into the ditch. You just never know with kids. Thank you for reminding us. My heart breaks for your family.

At 11:05 AM , Blogger She said...

Thank you for telling the story again. I'm new to your blog so I did not know. I'm sorry for your family's loss. I will say a prayer for you all.

Texas law? Ahhhhhh? Too much can happen in 5 minutes!


At 1:25 PM , Blogger Suzanne said...

I'm so sorry. My deepest sympathies. I will not forget Riley or his story.

At 2:19 PM , Blogger Robin said...

You know why you tell this story? Because of mommies like me-Thank you for telling me Riley's story. I will tell my children his story also-

At 3:36 AM , Blogger Patty said...

BIG HUG...I know how hard this day is for you. You and your family are in my prayers....Love ya!

At 9:21 AM , Blogger Kaycee said...

Oh goodness. I'm so sorry to hear that your family had to experience the loss of your sweet nephew. That story is tragic, but thank you for sharing because people don't think of things like that. I know I would never have thought that could happen. My prayers are with your family.

At 7:17 PM , Blogger Elaine A. said...

Oh I could barely read all of this. The part about the fact that those children saw him in there just hurts me SO badly.

I will be sure to tell this story to alert people of this danger, including other children.

Prayers for your family on this heart-wrenching anniversary. Angel Riley hopes for your peace...

At 7:51 PM , Blogger angie said...

I know this was a hard day for you and I'm glad that you tell the story again. I know the story now because I have read it several times but new readers might not know it. It's a way to remember Riley, even for those of us that never had the chance to know him personally, and a way to educate others! Like you said many people probably don't think about this type of scenario and their kids. Sending a hug your way :)

At 9:53 AM , Blogger Just Me said...

Thank you for sharing Riley's story. Please know that my family will pray for your family. I am so thankful that you have the strength and courage to make people aware of such dangers. God Bless!



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