i read about things in peoples world that effect them. i see it on Facebook. i read about it on twitter. things that in the end are really just out of their control. things that in the grad scheme of things are so trivial it really shouldn’t matter. but it does. no matter how hard you try to tell yourself that it doesn’t. that it shouldn’t. it does. it matters. i am at fault as well for feeling these “trivial” feelings. it’s hard to remind yourself how lucky you in fact are in the moment. so today as i read. i pause. i look up from my laptop. i see my two beautiful. caring. healthy girls. they’re eating lunch. they have food to fill them. they have clothes to keep them warm. they have shelter to keep them safe. they have each other. this glance up reminds me how lucky i really am. how much i have to be thankful for. how much love i have in my life. i have two beautiful daughters whom i love more then they will ever understand until they have their own kids. and they give me so much more then i could ever give them in return.
when i hear about parents who lose their precious little gift. their child. my heart aches for them. it once again puts EVERYTHING i complain about into perspective. baby Calebs story put this into perspective for me BIG TIME. he was almost the same age as my youngest daughter when i walked into that room at the Children’s hospital last year. tears welled up in my eyes the moment i saw him lying there on the large hospital bed. he was so small. so helpless. his parents able to do nothing. knowing that within hours he would be taken off of life support. all i could do was imagine my baby girl there. how would i feel? it ripped my heart out. it still does to this day. i briefly introduced myself to Karen and her husband. grabbed my camera out of my bag and started to document their last moments together. i cried. i felt so much pain for them. for every 10 images i captured, i took 2 to 3 minutes with my head in my hands. wiping tears from my eyes. i shot with tears rolling down my cheeks. it was difficult but Karen wanted these images. she wanted to have the visual memory to one day look back upon. i continued for another 20 minutes and then i left. as i walked out of that room i cried. i cried in the car. i cried when telling jen what i had just seen. it was difficult for me to see that. to capture that. it hit very close to home for me. and i cannot even begin to imagine the pain. the hurt. anger. sadness that Karen and her husband felt. unimaginable sadness.
so why am i writing all this? why am i sharing this? because maybe it’ll help us realize again how lucky we are. i know when i think back to that day it makes me realize and for that i thank Caleb. i thank his parents for allowing me into their nightmare. i know it shouldn’t be like this, but sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us realize how great our lives really are. i love my life. a life that Jen and i have built and worked our asses off for. and most importantly i love my two little girls. for everyone one thing they do to drive me crazy, they do 20 other things that makes my heart smile.
below is Caleb’s story. these are his mom’s words. read it. share it and afterwards go grab your kids. grab your husband. your wife. your partner. tell them you love them. hug them. kiss them. remember they are a gift to you.
I was put in touch with Gabe during one of the most emotional, terrifying and heart breaking moments of my life. I was sitting in the Children’s hospital in Calgary when I received a call that a very good friend of mine had arranged for a photographer to come to the hospital. They would be coming to take the last images of my gorgeous son, Caleb.
But Calebâ€™s story starts before our visit to the hospital. It started roughly six years ago when my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family. What we found after a number of years is that we would have to go through IVF to complete our family. And after 1 cycle we were blessed as Caleb came into our lives on November 29, 2010.
To say he was loved and wanted was an absolute understatement. He was the light of our lives. At that time we were living in Australia, away from our family and friends, so he was the star of our facebook pages, emails and phone calls. And of course Caleb knew it.
Caleb was full of life and loved every minute of his time here. He was always smiling, chattering away and flirting with any girl that came into his life. He was also a very determined boy, trying so hard crawl when he was on his stomach and trying to walk when he was held standing. He was also very determined to get his food when he wanted it, which was all the time. He loved water and bath time was not complete without Caleb trying to swim.
At the end of March 2011, Caleb and I flew to Canada to meet both sides of the family. Unfortunately, my husband had to stay behind in Australia. We spent 3 days with my family, where my family got to know his big personality and get some quality time with him. Caleb and I also went to a hockey game before heading to my husbandâ€™s parents house. And of course, he proved himself a Canadian, loving every minute of the game. Caleb was then met by my entire husbandâ€™s family and even his great grandma got to hold and meet him. We didnâ€™t know then how precious this time would be or how important those few pictures taken would matter.
On April 11, I awoke to find Caleb not breathing. The panic and shock set in right at the moment. My sister in law immediately started CPR on him and then just as quickly, Caleb was taken to the Red Deer hospital. He arrived not breathing and no pulse. I vaguely remember a nurse directing me and my inlaws to a private room. We spent a lot of time waiting and having no answers. Finally, the nurse came in to tell us he had a pulse and was trying to breathe on his own. The relief that washed over me at that time is indescribable. In my mind, I figured he would be okay now.
But Caleb still needed to be transported to the Childrens hospital in Calgary. He wasnâ€™t responding the way they would have liked. I was allowed to quickly see him and hold his hand, give him a kiss and tell him I would see him in a bit. While Caleb was flown by air to Calgary, my inlaws and I set off down the highway on what felt like the longest drive of my life. I remember thinking, how am I going to tell my husband, what am I going to tell my husband? I still had idea how bad Calebâ€™s condition really was.
Upon arrival at the hospital, we were once again secluded into a room without my son. My husbandâ€™s aunt, whom I had never met, met us there and had been there when Caleb arrived. She had been able to see him quickly but had no information for us. After awhile, a nurse came in to tell us Caleb was a getting a CAT scan to see how his brain was functioning. I couldnâ€™t understand why. He was breathing, his heart was working. When it was finished, I was allowed to go into another room to see him. He was laying on a freezing cold mat and tubes going into his little body. My mind was racing; something started telling me things were not so good. We were pulled into another room to meet with some doctors and go over the results. We were told Calebâ€™s brain had a lot of swelling. And that because of the amount of swelling he was not going to make it; there was no room in his tiny skull to relieve any of the pressure.
Shock, denial and disbelief set in at the moment. I remember very little of the moments after that. And in some ways I am so thankful for that block. I know that friends and family came to visit. I know that after a lot of work my husband finally arrived by our sides in utter shock. I can only imagine how agonizing that flight over to Calgary would have been for him, 16 hours of nothing but time to think. And I remember the alarms. The alarms to replace whatever medicine needed replacing or checking going off. The number of IV lines and tubes increasing as his time in the hospital increased.
When Gabe walked into the hospital, we were all living in our own grief. The images captured this grief as it was. I am so thankful that I have these images. Not only for the Calebâ€™s last moments but also because my mind has blocked out so much of that time. I donâ€™t pull them out to look at often but when I do, I see my little angel and I see the connection we share. I am brought right back to that hospital room and every emotion I felt then.
Caleb finally passed away peacefully April 12th. We donated many of his organs so that another child would have the chance at the life and their family wouldnâ€™t have to go through what we did. We take comfort in the knowledge that he continues to live on in these family. He also continues to live on in the lives of everyone he came in contact with. Somehow, Caleb managed to fill his short life with many memories and people and we are thankful for everyday we had with him.