Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is There Ever A Good Time To Die?...

Something is on my mind.  It steals my thoughts like a thief and has no respect for anything... often invading my head at inopportune times.

It's not just the WHY about Gavin's death.

It's not even the HOW in the HELL did this happen??  (Although I struggle with the unanswered questions)

What I think about most is the timing of it all.  How we went from fine to not so quickly.  How, walking into that emergency room with Gavin in my arms, I knew I was overreacting with his symptoms.  How, when he had the seizure and then stopped breathing in front of me I didn't freak out. I was almost... numb.  In my mind I remembered his first febrile seizure at home a year or more ago when I DID freak out - thought he was dead in his highchair - and how it turned out fine.  That day, standing dazed in the corner of the trauma room - watching people work on him - I really thought... "This is Gavin.  He scares us at least once a year with an emergency - and he always pulls through.  This will be just another story to tell."

Well, there was a story to tell.  But it wasn't the one I wanted to write.  And the ending sucks.
I'm not sure what would have been worse - and I think about this every day - a sudden, shocking death like we experienced... or an illness that gives you the warning of death before it comes.

Gavin was, for all intents and purposes, the healthiest person in our house.  He had a great (amazing, actually) diet... he got a lot of sleep through the night... he was not sick very often at all.  There were no indicators - no warning bells - nothing that could have prepared us for April 10th.  Nothing.  I kissed him good morning as I got him out of bed - and gave him a rare morning bath which made him so happy - and by that night I knew we were going to lose him.  How the hell does a Mother deal with such a sudden, shocking turn of events?  How does anyone?

But really - if you think about it - is there ever a good time for death?  

I think if I had known ahead of time - either through a diagnosis early on that told us he would have a shortened life expectancy... or an illness that promised death - I might have acted differently.  It might have colored our experiences like a black cloud looming over every event.

This has been one of my greatest life lessons...

Gavin enjoyed his life - and we enjoyed loving him - every single day.  He had lots of interesting and fun experiences... he was adored by his brother and his parents and his extended family and his aides and his teachers and therapists.  I documented everything without knowing he would die so young... I did it because I loved sharing every step with anyone and everyone I met.  Or even never met! 
We lived until he died.  And because of that, I don't have any regrets.  There was nothing left unsaid to Gavin.  I know in my heart that I loved him well and that I tried everything to give him a better, more independent life.
Because of this, I hope to live MY life in a way - and love those in it in a way - that any time would be a good time to die.  

Death doesn't take reservations, after all.


  1. Beautifully said. Gavin was well loved by all who knew him, most especially you, Ed and Brian. We should all take a lesson from that... you never know when the end will come so make sure to leave no words left unspoken. Love and light always~Mary in SC

  2. On a TV show once, a character said, "Death is always sudden. Even when you know it's coming. You're never ready for it." I have always found that answer profound--and have found in my own life that it is true. Even when you are watching death barrel toward you, the exact when and how of the moment is as wrenching as if you never knew it was coming.

    So live life fully every day. Tell the people you love how much you love them every day. Because we none of us know how much time we have left.

  3. This is so powerful... thank you for writing this. I really don't have words, other than "wow". RIP Gavin - fly with the angels

  4. Hi Kate, I REALLY hope this isn't a rude statement but I hope you have been speaking with a counselor. I can't imagine how hard all of this must be (death, pregnancy, caring for your family) and there are wonderfully gifted people who can help you process through all of it. That is not to say that you aren't handling this in the right way but I hope someone can help you as you grieve.

  5. Yeah - I don't comment to often - but as the realization that my 70 year old father probably won't make it another year - this was a timely post for me. And that's why I read and keep following you, Kate, because your life and awareness of life offers me insight that I can often apply to my own life. Thank you for sharing...I'm sure if we were closer we would be friends...

  6. I've thought about this so much. I think of how happy Jack was up until the moment he died. How he didn't get sick and waste away. How I didn't have to break the awful news to him as I would have if he had a disease. I don't know. It gives me comfort that if he HAD to die, maybe it was better this way. Then I think...really????? Why would he HAVE to die? It's all a mystery to me. I'm glad God knows the answers. Love and hugs to you. I know that writing about these questions has helped me so much and I know it is helping you, too. xoxo

  7. This was so beautifully written. And what a wonderful reminder to all of us to live every day. Thank you.

  8. What a message. Incredibly profound and thoughtful. We never know when our last day on this Earth will be......and how blessed Gavin (and Brian, Darcy and Hope) are to have you and Ed as parents. I believe only God knows the how and why and truly believe you will find the answers someday. As always, I continue to pray for you and your family. You are a wonderful mother, a wonderful person.

  9. This is also something I have thought about often in the 18 months since my grandson Barrett died of SIDS. When my daughter and son woke up on that last day of his life they had no inkling how their lives would change before the day was over. They constantly wonder if anything would have changed the horrible outcome. Not having the opportunity to say goodbye and I love you one more time. I hope you have some peace knowing you had that opportunity. Doesn't make the loss any less I'm sure just a different. Hugs to you on this grief journey

  10. I am so sorry about the loss of your sweet Gavin. I lost a child 16 years ago, but I can truly answer your questions. He was misdiagnosed, so instead of a couple of hour of terror and telling myself this would be another story to tell, I almost took pictures of the rash so that when he was better, we could read Put Me in the Zoo...Dr. Suess, I had a week of off and on terror. Until he was medivacted to children's hospital. We lost him mentally then, he went into a coma and came back as a profoundly disabled child who didn't know us. We knew his life would be short. I asked myself if the disability helped me let go, it did. But we didn't live with a cloud over our head, we lived full out, just as you have. I will tell you that we don't get beyond it, we learn to live with it. The grief will come in storms and take you down. But you will get up again. And how you chose to cope will be your continuing bond with Gavin. In your writing, you are bold and gracious and you are not alone.

  11. Oh Kate! I could not agree more. You see, my sister Frances was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor at age 4 and given 2 years to live. She died last year at age 26! She was definitely sick. We thought we were going to lose her countless times, BUT she pulled through. And then she died suddenly without warning. Very peacefully. We all knew that was going to happen. We just knew the chances were HIGH. BUT it was still shocking. It was STILL hard. You can never prepare. It is easier to understand when you think it CAN happen, but your heart is NEVER ready. And acceptance is way too hard! I love all of your posts. I think of my mom every time...

  12. Thank you for articulating what I've been pondering for some time. I used to think that most people lived long, full lives. Then my friend lost her daughter in 2nd grade and I realized that death isn't fair at all. We cannot control the length of our life, but we can fill the days we have with love and learning and adventure. It's up to us not to waste it. I'm still guilty of putting off my bucket list until later, but I try not to take it all for granted. And I really try not to worry about death or it will cheat me of the great times to be had while I'm still here. Gavin lived a full life. I'm sorry it wasn't longer, but I think you should be proud of assisting him in living it well.

  13. As far as I can see, from the tiny glimpse that reading a blog gives into another's life, Gavin's life was as happy and fulfilling as you could possibly have made it.

    I can't begin to imagine how you feel, but just as your love for Gavin carried him all his life, may his love for you reach you still.

  14. This is such a beautiful blog. Thanks for sharing with us. You're always in my prayers.


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