Today is Sept.6th.
It's the 6 year anniversary since Riley's death.
He was 2 years, 2 months, & 4 days old on the day that he died.
Right now, he would be 8 years old.
I have no doubt that he would still have blonde hair, only made brighter each Summer by the sun.
I have no doubt that he would be just as sweet as he was when he was little. Such a curious little spirit with a sweet and cuddly soul.
I'm sure he's finally seen the ocean, and I'm sure he loves it...
I know that many readers know Riley's story, his short little life and the tragic way he died. For those that don't know, he died in a hot car. He got outside during a family naptime, and accidentally locked himself in the car in the driveway.
Over the last 6 years, there's been a lot of grief over his death, but there has also been some healing. In particular, my sister just recently made her first public appearance at a press conference to tell Riley's story and discuss the dangers relating to child safety while in and around cars. I am so very proud of her. I was so worried that this would unstitch some healed wounds, and on a certain level, I'm sure it did. In the end---she was poised and able to speak about his short life, his death, and raise awareness about this issue. I truly can't say how proud of her we all were, and seeing the clips on the news was just wonderful. It's not wonderful that she had to be there, had to tell the story, or that the situation happened---but it makes us feel productive toward change in education about the dangers. If you can find a sliver of progress in this arena, it makes the grief and the details about his death just a little more bearable...as if talking about it may make a difference and possibly save the life of another child out there in this world, whose parents may not have thought about this little detail or that little detail...
---locking your car doors, even if your car is in the garage or driveway.
---power seats that move even when your car is not turned on. They've caused child deaths already from strangulation/suffocation. Who knew??? I certainly didn't until I started researching all this after Riley's death. Do your power seats move even when your car isn't on? Another reason to lock those car doors.
---teach your older children to tell an adult when/if they see a child alone in a car! This is one of the hardest details about Riley's death: some older children saw him in the car in the driveway, alone & crying. They didn't tell anyone. They didn't tell anyone because they didn't know that it was dangerous. They didn't realize that a short while later, he would fall asleep from the heat and exhaustion, and die. Riley,
Oh, sweet boy. I would give just about anything for one more hug, one more time to hear your little voice calling me "Nana," one more sniff of your sweaty little boy head after playing hard, and one more kiss on those little busy, dimpled hands of yours. Your short life taught me so much. You have no idea how much you taught me. Your absence has taught me to appreciate even the most mischevious moments in my child, and to treasure our memories....to MAKE more memories.
You probably already know this about your Nana, but I'm a bit of a nut with the camera. You are part of the reason for that. When we lost you, we lost your future and all that you would become. We had all of you that we would ever get, and no more. I just wanted more, and somehow believed that if I had just taken more pictures I would somehow get to keep you longer. Memories fade and memories fail. And so I go on, snapping away picture after picture of my own son, secretly terrified that something could happen to him and I'd lose the memory of the moment. It's silly, I know. I challenge myself at times to put the camera down and just be wholly present in the moment: to taste it, to smell it, to hear it, and to feel it. It's hard for me. I've held on tightly to the thought that pictures would keep all my memories for me, and it's just not true. So, that's a little something that I'm working on.
You'd be 8 now. EIGHT. My goodness! Oh, the things you'd be doing. You'd be reading and writing and riding a bike. You'd be wrapped up in a love/hate relationship with Trystan, I just know it. You'd fight over this toy or that gadget...whose turn is it to pick a tv show...typical brother stuff. But you'd love him. You'd definitely be two very active peas in a pod!
I miss you, sweet boy.
...and we're trying to make a difference.
Watch over me daily, and help me live the kind of life that will get me to where you are.