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SUDC Insights is the official blog of the SUDC Foundation which shares and discusses issues important to the understanding and the ultimate prevention of SUDC. If you have questions or issues you would like to see addressed in SUDC Insights, please let us know at sudcinsights@sudc.org.

Learning to Walk in My Grief

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Tayjon came into our life and stole all our hearts, especially that of his brother Tyler. I never knew one could love a child as much as I do Tayjon. He was in so many ways an angel on Earth. Tayjon had the biggest smile and eyes that were so full of life. For the first six months of his life, he was a very quiet child, but then he became mobile and it was all over. Tayjon loved to climb on any and everything, it was nothing to often find him sitting on top of the dining room table looking out the window. By the time he turned one he had advanced from looking out the window, to running outside and playing. Jonjon loved to play outside. I’m not sure which he loved more playing in water or playing outside in water. Our last summer with him we spent so much time outside, just enjoying life, and watching the children play.

This all came to an end on August 15, 2016. It was a Monday morning and it started out somewhat a typical day. It was the day before school started and my children's friends had stayed the night. So, with a house full of children and not wanting to wake everybody up, I tiptoed around the house as I got two of my children up and ready to go to a 7 a.m. dental appointment. At one point, I even went upstairs to where Tayjon was sleeping, but I didn't go all the way into the room. I grabbed a pair of shoes, went back downstairs quietly and out the door we went.      

We arrived home around 8:20 a.m. As I was getting Tyler out of the van, Tayjon's older sister Shy came running out of the house saying “Jonjon is not breathing.” My first thought was that he must have eaten something that got stuck in his throat again. This was something typical of Tayjon, who loved to eat. I will never forget the moment that I came around the corner, looked in the living room and saw my husband on the floor giving my two-year-old child CPR. Many years of CPR training instinct kicked in I didn't question what was going on I simply dropped down to help. The moment I went to give my child breath from my lungs, I knew he was dead. A minute or two later the paramedics rushed in, swept him up off the floor and flew out the door. In that moment, I knew my life had changed forever. I was now a part of a group of women no one wants to be a part of.

Tayjon (1/22/14 - 8/15/16)

If someone had told me that three years later, I would learn to walk in my grief I would have told them they were crazy. I find it unthinkable to even question how a person can learn how to live without their child.  Living without my child has been hard, and some days just unbearable, but with support from SUDC, and other moms like myself, I have learned that it is ok. It is ok to cry. It is ok to tell others you’re not having a good day. It’s ok to just do nothing.    

August 15, 2019 it will mark three years since we lost Tayjon  As I reflect on these past 3 years, I now realize that grief is not always what you expect it to be. For me dealing with my grief during the second year was much more difficult than the first year. During the first year I spent so much time thinking about getting through the first holiday, the first birthday the first day of school and all the special occasions that we would miss that it became more about the fear of my grief than the actual grief itself. This became a true test of not only just learning to walk in my grief, but also about how to live with it. We have started to adventure out into the world again and do some of the things that we use to enjoy doing with Jonjon. I no longer fear grief but mourn the loss of what could've been.  

Learning to walk in my grief was hard, I second guessed everything including my parenting skills. I also questioned whether or I missed something, because “healthy” children just don’t die in their sleep. There is so much I could say, but my grief consumes my words. My story is like so many affected by SUDC, but so different. The one thing that we all have in common is the love for our children and a desire for answers to why.  

I really miss my Jonjon. I miss him standing at the top of the steps, throwing his toys down the steps until he saw my face. I miss watching him steal food off everyone’s plate. I miss his “good morning mama.”  I miss his playing in the toilet and dumping buckets of water in my living room floor with his brother Tyler. More than anything, I miss being his mama. When I first met Tayjon ironically in a hospital room connected to some machines, I sang to him. I sang, “Yes, Jesus loves You So,” on that day in the hospital room as they started to shut down all the machines and the medical professionals began leave the room, I sang to my baby again. As I sang to my baby, “Yes, Jesus loves You” other voices joined in. Just like those voices that joined in that day, it is my hope that more voices will join in spreading the word about SUDC. Sharing my story is just my little part in keeping my promise to Tayjon.

By Artavia Cleveland, Guest Blogger


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