I don’t think I’ve ever written this story on here. I’m pretty sure I haven’t – and because there are just so, so many moments like this in the weeks we had with Kaden, it’s only been told to a handful of people.
But this is the month he lived, and today four years ago he was 11 days old, and I wanted to share it.
When Kaden died, we had to put what funeral home in El Paso we wanted contacted for him to be sent to. As I wrote down the same name as the one Preston and Julian were at, I remember thinking over and over, “This can’t be real. This can’t be happening.”
We gave him back, and left the hospital in a blur. A box I was carrying with his courage beads and pictures the nurse had taken of us spilled from my hands on the tile floors and rolled and rolled. I stood there crying as the chaplain and Sam tried to gather them all, put them back in the box, and close it for me as I held it – unable to move.
When we boarded the flight a few days later to go home, I looked out the window and thought, “Oh my God, my God, I’m leaving my son here all by himself. He’s all alone and I’m going home without him.” I didn’t even know how he’d get to El Paso or who would take him. The thought was unbearable. Absolutely horrific. I’m sitting here wiping tears as I write this and remember it.
Later on, I don’t remember how long but it was a bit as we’d asked for an autopsy on Kaden, we got the call from the funeral home that Kaden was there and we could come in to plan a service or – whatever you do otherwise. I don’t know. I honestly don’t recall most of those days well, but this one I always will. As we parked in the same spot, sat in the same seats, looked down the same hall, read the same newspaper clipping framed on the wall – I felt like I was in an alternate reality. The same man we’d met with just a year and four months before that, who guided us through picking out the urn for our twins, walked to meet us.
“I’m so very sorry,” he said. “When we got the call, I thought the last name sounded familiar. I couldn’t quite believe it when we realized you were the same couple from last year.” We talked with him about what had happened, how Kaden had fought for three weeks, and then we were told he wasn’t a candidate for a heart transplant because of ci-HHV6.
We picked out his urn. A little elephant.
We bought flowers for his memorial.
We picked a date.
I knew Kaden was there. Somewhere near was my baby and all I wanted was to beg that man to let me have him, to take him home with me. The thought of him alone…
And as we started to leave, he said, “So I don’t know if the hospital told you. But when they called us, I was actually in Dallas at the time. It was just a chance thing, very brief visit. Once we realized it was you guys, I went over and personally got your son, and I took him home on my flight. I brought his clothes and blankets back with me.”
He handed me a bag from the hospital with all the things Kaden wore while he was there, and the little outfit and blanket he was so lovingly put in after his heart stopped.
I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. There are many stories like this from Kaden’s time that one day I’d like to share more of, but this one is probably the most special to me. To know this man cared enough to go to the hospital and take our son with him – I’ll never forget that. Never.
To my broken mama heart, it at least eased that pain of where my darling son went, who cared for him when I couldn’t, at least a little.
Photo by Allix Ruby Photography