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Please read these stories from other parents, families and friends who have suffered and are surviving the physical loss of their beloved child or close loved one. This community of fellow bereaved parents, family and peers will touch your heart and remind you that you are not alone. You will survive this journey… one step at a time. Others are on this path… just a few steps ahead or behind you.
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It's been 11+ years since we last saw our son's beautiful smile, touched his sweet face or heard his amazing giggle. However, if I close my eyes, I am right back to that ordinary Tuesday evening in April, 2005.
Like any other spring school night, Josh had done his homework, played a bit of Playstation II, ate a quick dinner and got ready for travel soccer practice. My husband, Pat, was dropping him off but had to coach our daughter, Katrina on another field a half hour later. Due to only having one car, I was going to Josh's practice a bit late and staying to bring him home before picking up Katrina and Pat later on.
As Josh rushed out the door, he quickly greeted Katrina, who had just returned from modified lacrosse practice. Over his shoulder he yelled, "Bye Mama! I love you!" I yelled back from the kitchen, "Love you too! Don't worry, buddy. Wait for me and I will be there!"
I remember rushing to get Katrina something to eat, getting her changed from her lacrosse stuff into soccer stuff and jumping into the van that had just pulled back into the driveway.
I remember the overwhelming feeling that I had to get to Josh.
I quickly dropped Katrina and Pat off at their field and headed towards Josh. When I pulled into the church parking lot by the field, the boys were running and the coach had just called for a water break. As I was setting up my chair, I observed Joshua beginning to run towards the parents assembled on the sideline. He began to walk very slowly like he couldn't pick up his feet. Suddenly, Joshua collapsed on the field, his legs buckling under him. My heart flipped in my chest and I remember looking down. Almost like I had to take a second to collect myself. Then, the coach called for me and I was running towards my precious little man.
Though I tried my very best to bring Joshua back, I couldn't. I can still remember breathing into him. Telling him I loved him. Breathing again. His daddy loved him. Breathing again. His sissy loved him. Breathing again. Thanking him for being our Joshua.... over and over and over again.
It seemed like hours until the firetrucks and paramedics arrived. I stepped back to allow the professionals to take over. I remember closing my eyes and seeing the scene from above. I could see Joshua being worked on while lying on the ground. I saw the top of my own head and this nice lady standing next to me with her arm around my shoulder. Also, on either side of me, were two priests who came out of the church when they heard the commotion. I remember thinking "Oh this is what Joshy is seeing. When he comes back he will tell me all about it."
Pat came rushing to the field. He was inconsolable and I began to pray with him. I was never an overly religious person, but this was just what I had to do. Time passed. Because I felt that I had "my time" with Josh, I told Pat to go in the ambulance with our son. I was told to get in my friend's car to follow them. As I was getting into her car, someone came running up with our folding chair yelling, "You forgot this!" This seemed so unbelieveable to me at the time. "Why do I care about my folding chair?" I thought.
My friend took my keys and put the chair away in my van. As this was happening, I bowed my head and said "I don't know why it is Joshy's time, God. Please help me! Please show me my path!" (Again, I never really prayed much before this). As I lifted my head and looked out of the car window, I saw my daughter, Katrina, wandering around the parking lot, looking scared and lost. Apparently, another parent from her team dropped her off when her practice was done (probably believing that Pat left because Josh was mildly hurt). Luckily, I was still at the field thanks to that woman returning my chair. Also, Pat came running up soon after because he was not allowed in the ambulance because they were still working on Josh. The three of us piled into my friend's car to follow the ambulance and I knew what my continued purpose was.... to love and support these two amazing people I was still blessed with.
Devastation. Agony. Weariness. Yet, unbelieveable gratitude and happiness that Joshua had been here at all. How can these emotions that are so polar opposite occur at the same time inside of you? How can I feel thankful yet cheated?
I would be lying if I said that we handled everything correctly after Joshua passed away. There were struggles, arguments and anger. The three of us had to relearn each other and our new positions in our family. We had to grieve ourselves while being next to each other. We had to forgive ourselves for past conflicts with Josh and each other and we had to learn how to cope in our own personal ways. This will forever be a work in progress, but we are a strong unit because we have survived one of life's most difficult tragedies together.
I will forever be grateful that I was blessed to welcome Josh into this world and I was blessed to be with him when he left it. Every morning I still say outloud, "Good morning Joshua! How is Heaven today?" I thank him for being our Joshua and I end each day with "Love you too! Don't worry, buddy! Wait for me and I will be there."
Life is good (not "perfect" anymore)...but very good. We have been blessed to witness Katrina's growth into being an amazing woman. And, every so often, we experience coincidences or "signs" that Joshua is watching over us.... even now.
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