Saturday, July 09, 2005

Happy Birthday, Philip!

Today is my brother's 29th birthday. Unfortunately it is also just 5 days shy of the 29th anniversary of his death. He was only home for 2 days before he died of what at the time they ruled SIDS. A bit of research, a copy of his autopsy report and a little research have lead me to believe he probably actually died of group B strep, the irony of this being that I almost lost my 5th child to group B strep 22 years later (hence my researching group B strep and coming to the conclusion I did)...but I digress....

Today there should be a big family cookout celebrate that last birthday before the BIG 3-0! But it wasn't to be. I was standing next to my mom when she found him dead in his crib, I will never forget how he looked. I will never forget the scream that escaped from her lips, at a pitch that sounded like every ounce of air was drawn from her body and in a way it was. She was never the same. Life was never the same. She distanced herself from my other brother and me because I think she feared losing us was easier to be distant than to risk being hurt. She returned to work to have something else to focus on, so not only did we lose our brother but also our mother.

I used to spend so much time as a child and teen wondering what he would look like, what he would be doing, what he would be like. As I became an adult, I didn't think about it nearly as much, until I was pregnant with Emily who was due in August. I prayed every day of my pregnancy that she not be born on my brother's birthday. God was good and she arrived on July 11, clearing his birthday by a whole 2 days. But I wasn't out of the woods, I had never thought to pray for her safety on the anniversary of his death. On July 14, I watched my mother fall apart on my front lawn as we had to have Emily emergency transported to Children's Hospital, almost 18 years to the hour of Philip's death. She wailed and stormed heaven with prayers, that her daughter not suffer the pain of losing a child and that her granddaughter live. Fortunately a week later, we brought Emily back home.

I focused on raising my family and I put thoughts of Philip in the back of my mind, until the minute I looked into my son Jacob's eyes for the first time and I saw a carbon copy of that baby I saw for the last time dead in my father's friend's arms (my dad's friend was the responding paramedic). When they wisked Jacob away to ICU, I feared I would lose my son as I had my brother so many years before. We were told Jacob was septic with group B strep and as I read and researched it I came to conclude that maybe that was what robbed our family of my brother (his autopsy shows the presence of strep).

There have been years when I have almost "forgotten" his birthday and of that I feel ashamed. There are times when I cry for all the "nevers" and "no" graduation, no wedding, no children. And there are days that I realize that only because he wasn't here did I become the person that I am.

Today, there was some cause for celebration on his birthday. Grant scored the winning run in the first game of the county knothole tournament. My dad was send home from rehab, almost a week ahead of schedule! Maybe Philip was looking down on us today, smiling.

Happy Birthday baby brother. I sure miss you!


hestiahomeschool said...

This made me cry. The death of a baby is always particularly tragic---there is so much lost. When a baby dies part of the furture dies.

Laura said...

Didn't mean to make you cry, of course I had tears streaming down my face as I typed it. Just couldn't let his birthday go by uncelebrated!

I did comment to someone on one of my list today that the only "up" side of his death was the fear it instilled in me that made me carry my babies all the time, cosleep with them and breastfeed. I was afraid if they weren't right next to me something would happen to them and I wanted to know if something was wrong. So I guess I have my baby brother to thank for starting me on the attachment parenting road....


Traci said...

I, too , almost lost my first child to Group B Strep. But thanks to my husband and the quick work of the nurses she is a very vital 4 and a 1/2 yr old. So scary. I am sorry for your families loss. Very painful.

Natalie said...

Wow Laura, that is such a sad story yet joyful as well when you look at all your beautiful children and the relationship you have with them. Someone told me that when a baby dies, it means that they had such a valiant spirit that they only needed to come to earth for a body to be resurrected later. They didn't need to go through all the trials the rest of us do. Doesn't make the horrible pain go away, I know, but maybe comforts somewhat?