Patrick was born at 8.52 pm the evening of Sunday, 5th April 2009 and shared his birthday with one of his maternal great-grandmothers. A delicate 5 pounds, 12 ounces, Patrick, who came to be known as Sproggy to all his family and friends, was not long growing and thriving into a cheery, smiley, healthy and curly-haired little baby and toddler. He would charm you in an instant with his rogue-ish, dimple-y smile and big, wide, inquisitive eyes.
Patrick was a very placid little baby and toddler who loved books, animals and books about animals. He absolutely adored sheep...”Shaun the Sheep” and “Timmy” in particular. Many a happy evening was spent looking at books or watching an episode of “Shaun the Sheep” with Patrick dancing in his own unique way every time the music for the program came on. In fact, the first words out of him after coming in the door would be “Shaun?!” - with Sproggy pulling at the portable DVD player and leaving us in no doubt what he wanted to do before his dinner.
In the weeks before he passed, he had discovered jigsaws and once left his daddy wait until he had finished one before he was willing to leave the creche. Normally, he would have rushed to whoever was picking him up but that day his dad got the distinct feeling that Patrick was saying: “I know you are there but I want to finish this thing first, so you will have to wait, Daddy.”
We also think he must have been one of those very few kids who seemed to love going to bed. He would take a bit of milk after being changed into his PJ's in the evening and then climb up the stairs and head into his room, sometimes looking so very content as soon as his curly head hit the pillow. A few stories from daddy and he would be off to the land of nod without much hassle. In the mornings, he loved looking out the window watching the “birdies” and granting his parents a bit of a lie-in when he felt particularly generous.
Sproggy was very fond of Tipoki, our cat and likewise, Tipoki appeared to be very attached to him from early on; never laying a paw on him. On his first birthday, him and the cat even shared a light breakfast of cat food while we weren't looking for about 2 seconds...though we do not think Patrick was inclined to try that again afterwards. He preferred broccoli.
The creche was a place that Patrick loved. As soon as he could walk, he preferred walking into the door himself, pulling his sheep bag on wheels proudly after him.
We will never forgot his sweet little voice, informing us which was mummy's car and which was daddy's or that it was dark outside or what noises the animals made. Nor will we forget his little game of doing his farm yard jigsaw and hiding the pig under a couch cushion and then looking at us gesturing “Where's the piggy?” One time we pushed it further back under the couch pillow and when his little hand went searching and could not find it, the look on this face was priceless.
We won't forget one of our friends and his favourite babysitter teaching him the word “dude”...or the adorable way he said it.
There just aren't enough words to describe this wonderful little fella whom we all loved so very much. Though his life was very short we are eternally grateful that he was part of ours. He lived life with the pure innocence, love and happiness that only children possess and brought joy to us and everyone around him. We are not millionaires but our lives were richer than anything money could ever buy. We thank the people who invented digital cameras as they let us capture Sproggy as he grew from this delicate little baby to a solid sturdy toddler. If they say that a picture tells a thousand words then we may have millions.
Patrick's angel date is January 25th 2011. On that day, at around 12.30, he was placed lovingly into his cot at the creche for his afternoon nap for what turned out to be the last time. He had not slept well the previous night which could have been for a whole range of reasons...teething or knowing mammy was away (on business). Though he was in brilliant form that morning, his daddy mentioned the restless night when dropping him off in the morning and we reckoned he might sleep well for them that nap time. It took him a while to go to sleep as his minders tell us he was standing up in the cot, messing and smiling with the other kids but off to sleep they went. Around 1.20pm, they started getting the children up but left our little boy until last. All children are checked every 10 minutes during nap time. When they got to Patrick, the girl who went to get him up immediately saw he did not look right and probably knew something was very wrong the minute she scooped him up. Within about 10 minutes or even less, he had slipped away.
Resuccitation attempts were started immediately and the ambulance called. Then they called Patrick's daddy at work saying he had laboured breathing. We are certain they knew it was far worse than that but they wanted to make sure his dad got there in one piece without crashing the car! When his daddy arrived, the paramedics were already at the scene as thankfully, our places of work, the creche and the hospital are all within close proximity. Patrick's dad said that the minute he saw the paramedics working on him, he knew his little boy was gone. He then tried to call me. I was away on business and in a meeting when I saw the phone going off. Not to be rude, I cancelled the call and texted him asking was there anything up. I had a bad feeling because it was unlike my husband to call me during the day. “No, not breathing” was the message coming back and I think I may have gone white as a sheet. I do not think,I have ever in my life felt so very far away .... all the while being paralized with absolute fear and panic. It is not something I ever want to experience again. Whichever way, I just knew it was bad. I knew my son was dying and my husband was there facing into this all by himself. I think that was the most heart-wrenching aspect for me. I so desperately wanted to be there for my husband but looking back, I do not think I could have coped with being there and seeing what he saw.
My husband's family, who live close-by, came as quickly as possible and met him at the hospital. The paramedics and hospital staff were outstanding. It seemed that nobody left the room and at one point, there may have been over 10 people tending to him. They all worked so hard to bring him back but our little boy was gone.
I am grateful about the way things are done in Ireland – with such dignity, respect and consideration for the family that is grieving the loss of a loved one. The autopsy was done the same evening and my husband and his dad got to bring our baby home afterwards to be laid to rest in his cot for the last time. He was already there by the time I got home about 1 in the morning and we got to keep him there until the day of the burial 3 days later. We also got to wake him at home with so many, many people, family, friends, acquaintances, neighbours and colleagues coming to say good-bye to our little angel. In some parishes in Ireland the family and friends dig the grave themselves. The men gather, do the work, have a drink. Patrick's grave was lovingly decorated with moss and flowers as some of the men felt that a dark earthy hole in the ground was not the right place for such a small lad. They wanted to ensure his send-off was as best as it could be and for that we are forever grateful.
The house was busy. Food appeared seemingly out of nowhere and people (family and friends alike) were just there...dropping everything to be by our side. And we thank them for that.
Within days of Patrick's passing, we were contacted by members of the SUDC family in Scotland and the UK. As many say, this is not a club any of us would choose to join but we are so glad they found us. The SUDC Foundation has provided tremendous help, support and encouragement to us in the time since Patrick's death.
Though we are heartbroken we know Sproggy lived a good life and did not suffer. He simply slipped away quietly and gently. If people would like to do something, then make a small donation to the SUDC...their work is important both in terms of the support and the research. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.