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.
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 know...in 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!