It was July 4th, 2016 and everyone woke up happy and excited to have a fun family day together. The plan was to go to our neighborhood 4th of July parade and party, and then go over to my parents house that afternoon to spend time with the family and eat some BBQ. The first part of the day was perfect. Justin pulled Cooper and Callie in the wagon and we walked the short little route in the neighborhood parade.
We talked to our neighbors, enjoying the fun morning all while Cooper and Callie were both enjoying their little ride in the wagon and taking in all the people. After the parade, we stayed around the neighborhood clubhouse for the festivities. We ate some food, got some snow cones, Justin pushed Callie in the swing and everyone was having a great time. The kids especially loved the firetruck and getting sprayed by the water hose. Callie also explored every area of the grounds while Justin was chasing her around and I was helping Cooper with the big water slide. Callie had so much fun exploring, observing everything around her, playing at the park and enjoying yummy food.
|watching the fire truck spray everyone|
After a little while, we headed back to our house. I remember specially coming back home and the kids having so much fun together. Cooper and Callie were running around, playing legos, and just playing together like they normally do. Callie was SO happy and joyful.
|Running around with her brother playing legos|
I wanted to get a picture of both kids together since they were dressed so cute for 4th of July but thought it would be better to wait until after Callie napped. I did want to get some pictures of Callie since she looked so stinkin adorable that day. And thankfully I was able to get the sweetest picture of her in her dress, that now most everyone has seen. It was the last picture I took of her. And she looked beautiful.
I then put her down for a nap. She never cries when we put her down for a nap, and never even cries when she wakes up. I did notice that she didn't sleep super long during this nap and I could tell she was a little more fussy than her normal self when she was waking up. I went in to get her and when I picked her up, I noticed immediately that she was warm. We checked her temperature and it was 101. Poor baby had another fever. It was a common thing for her nowadays, but the doctor was never concerned about her fevers so I tried not to be either. We gave her some medicine and the fever went down. Our plan was to go to my parents house after she woke up, but Justin offered to stay home with Callie, since he had some orientation work to work on (he just started a new job the week before). He wanted Cooper to be able to still go and play with his cousin at my parents house. His cousin was really looking forward to seeing Cooper, so it just didn't make sense for all 4 of us to stay home. I agreed, and so Cooper and I left to go to my parents house about 30 minutes away. That was the last time we saw her.
I wish I had some awesome story about how I went back in and gave her an extra hug and kiss and told her I loved her 2 more times, but I don't. Cooper and I actually snuck out quietly because I knew she would get upset if Cooper left to do something and she had to stay home. So I didn't even really say bye. I stress this because in a lot of the books I read, they have some magical moment with their child the last time they saw them. I don't have that and it made me very angry. Why does everyone else seem to have that and I literally didn't even say bye?? I stress that because it doesn't always happen like the movies and the true story of the books I read of the last time you saw your loved one alive. It's just not realistic and I hope that brings some type of comfort to anyone else who doesn't have that last "magical moment" with their child. I just look at all the wonderful moments and memories we had over the last month together, otherwise I would drive myself crazy with that.
I also want to point out that it is not normal for us to be separated like this. It was very odd that we were even separated and Justin was with Callie and I was with Cooper. Usually it's the other way around and Justin takes Cooper somewhere, and I stay home with Callie. But on this particular day, Justin was alone with Callie. I drove to my parents house and Cooper had a blast playing with his cousin. Justin and I texted the entire afternoon. He was giving me updates on Callie and I was telling him what Cooper and Peyton were doing.
He sent me one last picture of Callie sitting in her pink chair, sucking her thumb, hair a mess, in her diaper watching jungle book. It was the movie we played for her when she was sick. It always calmed her right down. Justin also texted me and said that Callie leaned into him and gave him a kiss and that it melted his heart. I'm so glad he had that moment with her. He checked her temperature again and she had no fever as it went down with the medicine. I texted and told him to go ahead and put her down for another nap since she didn't really nap well earlier. Callie was in a transition of going from 2 naps to 1 nap, so some days she would take 2 naps and some days she would take 1 nap. I am a huge nap scheduler and since I'm with her 24/7, I know her best and knew she would need another short nap before dinner. So Justin put her down for her nap. I texted and asked if she went to sleep. He looked at the monitor and said yes she is asleep. And that was the last text from Justin that day.
Meanwhile, at my parents house, my brother and dad grilled some sausage and ribs and we ate a nice BBQ meal. I remember showing my parents the picture of Callie that I took of her and how cute she looked today and how I wish they could have seen her. I then packed up a ton of leftover food to bring dinner home to Justin and Callie. We said goodbye to my family and Cooper and I were on our way back driving to our house. All was right in the world...or so I thought...
I called Justin on the way to let him know we are coming home. He didn't answer. No big deal, that's normal he usually has his phone on silent. A couple minutes later, he calls me back and immediately I knew something was terribly wrong. This part of it all is very blurry for me, but all I remember is Justin telling me that Callie was not breathing and was unresponsive. The paramedics were there at the house working on her. I'm sure I asked him what happened and he told me he didn't know. Justin later tells me (no idea when he told me or when I got all the information as it's all a blur now) that he looked at the monitor and noticed that Callie's face was down in the crib and the way she was positioned was not normal. He immediately went in there and picked her up, and she was not breathing and unresponsive. He lays her down on the living room floor and starts CPR. He called 911 on speaker all while giving his daughter CPR. He knew deep down inside, that she was gone, but he knew he had to try. He had to pray for some miracle, but it just wasn't looking good.
At this point, I'm in full on panic mode. I'm a basket case and pretty much freaking out. But I have to drive and I have my son in the car with me. I called my parents and told them to pray. I called one of my best friends and told her to pray. I then call Justin for updates and all I ever got was "she's still the same, still unresponsive, still not breathing". I ask Justin about 5 different times "Is she going to die??" and all he said was "I don't know". Justin asks the paramedics if I should come to the house or go straight to the hospital and they said for me to go straight to the hospital. I'm sure they didn't need hysterical mom coming through the door. I then call my parents back to let them know what hospital they are taking Callie to. I pray out loud as much as possible for God to spare Callie's life. Since I was driving, I couldn't text anyone, but thank goodness for bluetooth, I could call people easily. I then think to myself that I need one person from church to know so they can pray. So I start calling people, and NO ONE would answer their phone. I used stop lights to look up other numbers, and again no answer. Oh well, no one from church will know, God just wants me to pray. It was the longest drive of my life. I keep trying to call Justin for updates but his phone died. The last I heard was that they were putting a tube in her to try to help her breath. They worked on her at our house for a least an hour.
About 5 minutes from the hospital I decided to try to call our Pastor. I was hesitant, because I didn't know for sure what was going on, but I did anyway. He didn't answer at first but then he calls back a couple minutes later. I explained to him that Callie is not breathing and unresponsive and say something like please just pray God would spare Callie's life. He then asks what hospital we are at. As I'm getting Cooper out of the car, my best friend calls me because she drove to my house after I called her. She said the ambulance just left my house and they didn't have their lights on. She also said she thinks everything will be fine. I told her I don't know about that. But I did start to feel more hopeful. Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe she will be fine. She later texted and said that the ambulance did have their lights on after turning the street.
I walk into the ER and have to wait for Justin and Callie to arrive, and it was the longest wait of my life. Thankfully my parents showed up quickly after that so they could help with Cooper. I kept asking the lady at the desk if Callie had arrived yet. I was so frustrated that Justin's phone had died so I had no idea what was going on. I just kept praying and hoping.
Finally, Justin uses someones phone to call me and tell me that they are here and he comes and gets me. He is with one of the paramedics and the paramedic tells me "Every doctor, nurse, and hospital worker is working on your daughter right now, they are doing everything they can do." I walk by and I see about 20 people in there working on her very frantically. Just like a scene from ER or Grey's anatomy, I completely lose it when I see that, and they had to pull the curtain so that I would not disturb them. He leads us to the small room with 2 chairs to sit down and just wait. That was when I probably got more of the story from Justin. I asked the paramedic if Callie was going to die and he just said I don't know. Justin and I are crying out to God at the point, holding each other and praying. Lord please save Callie, please don't take her from us. I don't even remember what we were saying, we were just crying out to God. Another paramedic comes in and says that the Doctor will come in soon to see us. I ask her the same question I asked everyone..."is she going to die?" and the answer was always "I don't know".
Then at some point, and I'm not even sure how this happened, our Pastor walks through the doors and we were right there. I think it even took him by surprise that he found us so quickly. He never went into the waiting room like everyone else, he just walked right in, and we were literally right there. We prayed, and cried, and not sure what else happened the minutes before the doctor talked to us.
The worst moment of our lives was about to happen. The doctor walks in. He calmly tells us that they have been working on Callie for 2 hours now. They have done everything they can for her. They are going to try one more time to resuscitate her and asked if we wanted to be in the room with her to hold her hand. I knew what he was saying, but I needed to hear it. I ask again "Is she going to die?" And he said "Yes." I then ask "So you're telling me that my daughter died???" And then he simply says, "Yes." I'm sure he said he was sorry but I don't remember anything else but that Yes. We cry, our pastor hugs us and tells us how sorry he is. And somehow we are able to stand up and walk into her room to see her. It felt like 15-20 people in there with us. Justin gets on one side, I get on the other and they try one more time to resuscitate her. We just cried out to Callie and cried out to God. I remember rubbing her hair and her head and saying "Callie, Mommy is here, please come back to us, Mommy is right here." I remember crying out to God and begging him to please do a miracle. I remember saying "what happened, what happened." But it was mainly just crying and telling Callie that we loved her. Then they stopped. The doctor said something like "is there anyone in this room who thinks there is anything else we can do" Silence. I'm guessing that was when she was officially pronounced, though she was long gone before that.
At that moment, everything moved in slow motion and I went into shock. I remember all these hands on my back, and I thought all my friends were in the room. I turned around and it was all the medical staff who had been working on her. They were crying, trying to comfort me, but I felt paralyzed. Justin immediately went into deep, deep sorrow. He was sobbing uncontrollably while I felt frozen. Surely this is just a nightmare. Surely I will wake up from this terrible horrible dream. This can't be real life. It just can't be true. But I just kept looking at Callie and Justin and I knew deep down it was real life. This was my real life. My beloved daughter just died, how can I even go on??
I just stared at her, rubbed her hands, rubbed her hair and her cheeks. We kissed her, hugged her, and then Justin asked if he could hold her. The picture of my sweet husband holding Callie in his arms, sobbing uncontrollably is a picture I will never get out of my head. My heart is broken in a million pieces. Not just for myself, but also for him. He lost his beloved daughter, he was crazy about her, and what's worse, he was there when she died and he saw it all. For some reason the Lord spared Cooper and I from being there and seeing her and going through that traumatic experience. But he didn't spare Justin from it and it broke my heart. At one point, he started blaming himself and said that he should have gotten to her earlier. I immediately said, "NO, do NOT do that. This is NOT your fault." It was heart wrenching.
Being in shock, I felt very nauseous and also completely dehydrated. I kept asking for water and kept drinking water all night long, but nothing was quenching my thirst. I had never felt so dehydrated and thirsty before. After Justin held her, I held her as well. It was a strange feeling holding her as it just wasn't her. She was cold, lifeless, and it just wasn't her. I loved rubbing her beautiful hair and holding her hands, but holding her was very hard for me.
We cried and stayed with her for awhile before I knew I needed to go tell my parents. How am I supposed to tell them that their granddaughter just died? How am I supposed to explain to Cooper that his sister and best friend won't be coming home? The grief was just overwhelming. I walk into the waiting room and see my parents and our good friends Christian and Trey who were already there waiting as well. I just shake my head and mumbled under my breath that Callie died. I fall into my dad's arms and just cry. I then ask if they would like to come back and see her. My dad comes back and my mom stays with Cooper. The rest of the night was a huge blur. We stayed with Callie as long as we could until they pretty much kicked us out of the room and we had to return to that small room next door.
At one point, I was told that the waiting room was filled with friends and church family. I still don't know who all was there, but they were crying, praying and reading scripture. Though we never really knew who all came, it was extremely encouraging to know that we were not alone in this.
Thankfully my parents, our pastor, my 2 best friends, and Justin's good friend were all back there with us. We couldn't leave as they had a lot of questions for us and there was a lot more to be done. It was the longest night ever and I just wanted to leave the hospital. But no, we have to be interviewed separately by homicide detectives. I was very angry about this. I know this is normal protocol but really? We just learned that our child died and we have to be investigated by homicide detectives? I kept saying very directly "THIS WAS NOT A CRIME". but they didn't know that. So here we are, the worst day of our life actually getting worse. The detective actually told me that he has 3 kids of his own so he understands how I feel. OH REALLY? You understand what it's like to have your child die because you have children? How dumb can you really be? Justin was sweet and compliant, I was angry and rude. I guess that's typical of us in stressful situations.
Finally after both being interviewed (and it was recorded, felt like a dateline episode), I went out and saw some of the people that were still there in the waiting room. I don't know what time it was, but it was late at this point. And finally they say that we can leave the hospital. The detectives had to go to our house to "do their job" and we were not allowed back at our house until they were finished. We decided to just drive back to my parents house to spend the night there with the clothes on our backs. While we were getting Cooper in the car, Cooper said that Callie was with Jesus and that he was going to pray. He folded his hands and started praying.
We drove the 30 minutes back to my parents house mostly crying and in silence. I think it was close to 1:00am at this point. The only thing I remember from that drive is that Justin and I held hands and we said, "this will either break us, or bring us closer together. We choose to have this bring us closer together. This will NOT destroy us." We just had to say it out loud. I knew no matter how hard this horrible road of grief gets, we will make it. We will thrive together. For better or for worse, and this is by far the worst thing any marriage could experience. We made a vow, and we will make it through this.
The entire week was a complete whirlwind. I didn't sleep for 2 weeks. Maybe a couple hours a night I would get during those 2 weeks. It was awful since sleeping was the only thing to get your mind off of everything that happened. And every morning I would wake up and remember the nightmare we were living. I missed her immensely. I wish I could say that the pain has gotten easier over the past 3 weeks but it hasn't. It has gotten harder and reality has really sunk in. The worst day of my life is in reality the worst everyday of my life. It just keeps going, it keeps repeating itself everyday. I know one day, the dark cloud will get a little lighter. I know one day, I will not grieve as deeply as I do now. Even so, she will never ever be forgotten. The Lord has been near to us even through our deep grief and pain. I still don't quite understand why the Lord has us walk through this deep trial that not many people have to walk through. It doesn't seem fair at times, but I do trust Him. I know He loves me and I know he is near.