That was me this morning. My heart feels numb and I know the reason why. 38 years ago our precious baby, Royce Alan went into the arms of Jesus at the age of 3 days. It is hard to believe it has been 38 years ago as I know every minute of the whole day like it was yesterday.
The week of August 8 to 15 is always a difficult week even if I go into it thinking this year will be different.
August 8 – the twins were born ~ oh what a crazy day. Royce weighed 4 lbs 8 oz and Jamie weighed 3 lbs 12 oz…just over 8 weeks early and in our eyes so tiny. Ron and I both have some special moments of that first day. Ron remembers seeing Jamie for the first time in the neonatal unit and Jamie putting his tiny hand around Ron’s baby finger. I remember sitting in the nursery, caressing Royce’s thick dark hair. We remember praying over each one of the boys individually, Ron over Jamie, me over Royce. And being so scared, not knowing what was going to happen.
When the boys were 12 hours old, our hearts jumped for joy ~ Jamie came off the critical list to serious, his breathing was normal, his heart rate was perfect, he was just so small. And then we felt like our hearts were ripped open ~ Royce went from stable to critical, emergency transportation to the neonatal unit. Something was seriously wrong. His breathing was labored and his blood counts were out of control.
I was still in the hospital 6 miles from the neonatal unit so Ron was spending most of his time with the boys. There were no cell phones, so no instant pictures.
August 9 – tests were being run on Royce, antibiotics and fluids being given. Jamie was upgraded to stable, just tiny. Prayers were being sent all around. I had been put into a private room so I couldn’t see all the other mothers with their new precious baby’s. But I could hear them when they cried and would wonder if our babies were crying for their momma.
August 10 – finally I could leave the hospital. The doctor told me he would release me if I would promise to go home and rest. Sure, sure, I agreed to anything and then when we got in the truck I told Ron he had better take me to see the boys. But, he started to say…I must have had that look as he said okay and we drove to Sunrise Hospital where the neonatal unit was. I slowly hobbled/walked in. We got gowned up and got to go into the nursery where the boys were. We first went to see Jamie, he was so tiny in that incubator. At 3 lbs 12 oz and 19 ¼” long he just looked like skin and bones, with light blond wisps of hair and looked so fragile. Oh how I wanted to hold him.
And then we moved over to Royce. He was on what they call an Ohio Open Bed, it is elevated and open on all the sides so that the doctors/nurses treating him had complete access to him. At 4 lbs 8 oz and 18” long he was short and even looked a little chunky and had quite a bit of dark hair. My mom commented that he had hair like me when I was born. He looked like a human pin cushion with tubes coming out of his arm, his belly, his foot and his hand. Oh how I wanted to hold him.
We stayed for about two hours and then I knew I needed to go home and lie down for a while. It was so hard to leave the hospital.
Later about 11 PM, I had my mom take me back to the hospital to see the boys…Royce was struggling with continued blood issues and infections running throughout his little body. They had put a gavage tube (feeding tube) down through Jamie’s nose to get him nourishment. We only stayed about an hour and then headed back home. It was so hard to leave them.
August 11 – we were getting ready to go to the hospital to see the boys when the neonatologist called and said they needed permission to give Royce a blood transfusion. Of course. We were told to wait to hear from the doctors when it was over before heading up to the hospital. About 2:15 we got a call that the blood transfusion had not worked and that Royce was failing fast. So Ron, my mom and I got in her car and headed to the hospital. I just wanted to see my baby. Ron was driving fast and scaring both my mom and I and then we got to the light at the turn into the hospital and he stopped…yes the light was red but no one was coming. I remember both my mom and I yelling at Ron – GO! Go!! And he did!! We stopped by the door so Ron and I could get out and my mom went to park the car.
Ron and I headed straight to the NICU. As we walked in one of the nurses said we couldn’t come in and I said but the doctor called and said come. Someone else came up and said it was okay. We were ushered into the room by Royce’s bed. He looked so peaceful, yet how could he be so sick. A chaplain introduced himself to us. I remember asking the doctor if Royce was in pain, he assured us he was not. My mom came in and joined us. Ron and I were rubbing Royce’s legs oh so gently. And then my mom told me to ask Ron to ask the chaplain to pray. And as the chaplain said “Lord Almighty God”…Royce went home to Jesus. As soon as the machine started to make noise they turned it off. We stood there for a few minutes, holding each other, crying and touching our precious baby. How could he be gone, he just arrived?
The doctor then ushered us into another room. I asked if I could hold Jamie. I needed a baby in my arms. They brought Jamie to us. I sat in a rocking chair just rocking back and forth for a bit. Then it was time for Jamie to go back into the incubator.
We just sat in the room, feeling dazed and confused. I remember when Adrian, our pastor, walked into the room and I jumped off the bed and screamed “How could God just give me a baby and then take him away like that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Adrian hugged me and said he didn’t know. I remember crying and being held by Ron…our life was in ruins…our baby had just died.
I don’t know how long we were in that little room.
We did get to go see Jamie in the nursery again and then we headed home. While in the room we made plans for a funeral for Saturday morning. Adrian said he would come and see us the next day to put the final plans together.
We met with the neonatologist, discussed having an autopsy done on Royce to find out exactly what happened. No way…no one was going to cut on my baby…but after lots of talking we gave the go ahead after promises that the cutting would be minimal and no one would be able to tell. I remember thinking as we walked out of the hospital…Lord, please, please don’t let anything happen to Jamie. We drove home in silence and tears.
About 8:30 that night Ron and I went back to the hospital to see Jamie. We had made phone calls to let others know that Royce had died. When we returned home around 10:30 my mom told us we could not have the funeral on Saturday…Ron’s dad was flying in from Alaska and we would have to move the funeral to Monday.
August 12 – one of the hardest days ever…we had to go to the funeral home and pick out the casket. After talking with the man there, he reminded me of a grandpa…he was soft spoken and was very caring he took us into this room with a bunch of caskets…I remember seeing two…one that was for a child all white and satiny and then this little pine box so plain looking. I remember holding onto Ron’s hand and then just to the right of us was this little blue casket…that is the one we chose. We finalized the plans and then went to Sears to pick out an outfit for Royce.
Looking back I feel bad for the first gal who approached us…she was probably in her early 20’s and asked us if we needed help picking out a baby’s outfit…guess we kind of looked like a couple of deer staring into headlights…no, we need to pick out an outfit to bury my baby in I blurted out…she walked away and then this grandmotherly looking woman came up and started chatting with us, amongst our tears she said she would help us. We found a little blue knit outfit that came with a blue giraffe, picked out a receiving blanket (do you know back then you could not buy just one blanket…they came in packs of two) and we also picked out a pair of blue booties. I am forever grateful for that grandma who helped us through a difficult situation.
We then had to go back to the funeral home to drop Royce’s clothes off.
August 13 & 14 – are a blur in my mind. I know my sister, Kathy, arrived. I know we went to church on Sunday morning. I know we went to the hospital to see Jamie two or three times each day. The doctors were a bit concerned as he had dropped down to 3 lbs 7 oz and they were hoping he would start gaining weight. One thing they were thankful for was that his lungs seemed to be okay.
Late in the day on Sunday we went to the funeral home to see Royce. It was the only time that Ron and I actually got to hold him. His body was so cold. One thing we found out while holding him was that a friend of ours had placed the cross necklace we had given her for making my wedding dress, around Royce’s neck…that was so special to us. I think we sat there holding Royce for a couple of hours.
Later in the day Ron’s parents, brother and sister Kathy arrived…we took them to see Royce too. Anne asked if we wanted some pictures of him. NO! Who wants a picture of a dead baby…OH how I wish we had those pictures now…
August 15 – woke up feeling such heaviness over us. We went to the church. Sat in the front pew. That little casket right in front of us. I don’t remember much of the service…the pianist played Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children. Adrian preached from John 14 and I remember just staring at the little casket, wanting to just open it and grab my baby and take him home with me. But we couldn’t. When the service was over, I remember people walking past us, giving us hugs and feeling numb. NUMB!!! Confused…still asking inside “why would God give me a baby and then take him away?” In a daze.
We went back to my mom’s house where my stepdad had made a bunch of food for people to eat. I don’t know how many people came over but there were many. Late in the day we went to the hospital to see Jamie…he had been transferred back to Women’s Hospital where he was born. I remember holding him, Ron holding him and never wanting to let him go…
August 16 – woke up to the news that Elvis Presley had died…who cares…my baby is dead!!!
And life went on…so much has happened in the last 38 years. So many good things!!! And yet each year this week is filled with heartache mixed with joy…such mixed emotions…we celebrate Jamie every year and give thanks that he made it through a difficult birth and rough first few days of life.
We are so proud of him…he is such a wonderful young man, though for the life of me I can’t figure out how he can be 38 when I just don’t feel old enough to be the mom of a 38 year old J Jamie is a wonderful husband and daddy and has faced challenges and overcome them and we are so proud of him.
It is so hard to express how in the same instant we feel so much love and gratitude to have Jamie as our son and yet at the same time wonder and miss Royce.
August 11, 2009 – another day mixed with joy and pain…we were so excited to realize that Brandon’s adoption of Max happened on August 11th…and how we celebrate him…can’t believe in one month he will be 17!!! Seems like just yesterday he was the 9 year old playing Lego’s with his Grandpa.
And then this past week, Brandon was in Las Vegas for a conference. I had asked him if he could take flowers or a balloon to put on Royce’s grave. And then told him never mind as we were having internet problems so I couldn’t find the address of the funeral home…but Sunday night, August 9 we got an email from him with pictures. He had found out where Royce was buried, couldn’t find a balloon or flowers but found a darling Teddy Bear and took it to the cemetery and placed it on his brothers grave, a brother he never knew, and took a bunch of pictures for us.
Thank you Brandon for going out of your way to do something so special for us. You will never know what your sweet actions mean to us.
Again, the good is out there…God has blessed us with two wonderful sons who have blessed us as parents and grandparents.
And so even though today is filled with mixed emotions I know that God is in control and has been all along.
|Jamie and Ron, May 2015
Jamie was able to be with us for the Grand Opening of
GUMI Camp USA
|Jamie, Spring of 2015
He has come a long way from that 3 lb 12 oz baby!!!
|Brandon and his sweet wife, Danalyn
New York, June 2015