Hi Baby Boy, I love you. The longest year of our lives has gone by and we still miss you fiercely! How could we not? Do you even realize what a spectacular little boy you were and will always be? The Caleb Effect is spreading and you are teaching people all over the world how to love a little deeper, cherish every minute with the ones they love and “be nice,” even when people don’t deserve it. I don’t know how we ever got so lucky to be your parents here on Earth, but Daddy and I will forever be grateful.
Every day is still a struggle, but today brings up memories that are usually immediately ushered to the back of our brains. A year ago, Daddy and I woke up in our room, and you opened your joyful blue eyes for the first time in heaven. It was the absolute worst day of our lives, but for you, there’s not a day (or most likely night) that compares. I guess Mommy is more like the Doubting Thomas because I still wish I could have that Polaroid of you in heaven. I want to see with my own eyes that you are okay.
I still don’t want this to be real. Every time I think this can’t really be our reality, I look down at the angel wings on my necklace and the enlarged pictures from your memorial service, and know this painful fact really is true. A whole year has passed, and you still aren’t here, but my heart and my head still can’t comprehend this.
Some people accused us of being “helicopter parents,” and “Purple Glitter Headband Nurse” even all but rolled her eyes at us when your pediatrician sent us to Children’s ER when you were five months old, because we couldn’t get your fever down for days. It was obvious she didn’t have any children or empathy that would be useful in her profession, and it was later discovered that you actually had “Hand Foot and Mouth,” one of the many contagious childhood gifts you collected from your friends (The one downside from you being such a social little boy who loved to give “fives” and “knuckles.”). It also turns out that you were in the 2-4% of kids who didn’t tolerate a fever very well, so our instincts were right in being cautious. They could have called us any name they wanted and it wouldn’t have mattered to us. We just wanted to take care of you and make you feel better (and ease our anxiety when you were too little to let us know what was wrong). All we ever wanted was to love and protect you, Baby Boy.
Obviously, our hovering wasn’t close enough. The second we discovered no matter how much Mommy, Daddy or the paramedics wished we could’ve saved you, we couldn’t bring you back. I’m sorry we couldn’t protect you. We will always wonder what it was that we should have been shielding you from.
Little Baby Bear, I know you weren’t big enough to have bear cubs of your own, but when a cub is snatched out of a mama bear’s hands, she will run after her cub and fight the person who stole her baby to the death to get her precious cub back. That’s how much mama bears love their babies. You know how much you loved your “vroom vrooms?” Imagine someone made every single one so that you couldn’t play with them while you weren’t looking. All the wheels would be locked and when you found them, and you couldn’t get on the floor and play with them anymore. You go get them to play and you can’t believe what you are seeing. Your heart races and you have Daddy call for help to fix them. You talk to the people while you are trying to get the wheels to turn with your bare hands, but nothing is working. Finally, the men with better machines crouch to where you are desperately trying to fix them, but as soon as they see their condition, they tell you it is too late. They put wires on your vroom vrooms to show you that they can’t help you, but you try to think of alternatives. You tell them you know it’s not the same, but they decrease the temperatures for Hot Wheels that fall in a river. Could it work for your perfect vroom vrooms, too?
Men with badges and some wearing suits come in and tell you to leave your vroom vrooms, but you don’t want to go. You cry and ask if someone will stay and watch them, and they assure you that they will. You are all alone with one of the suited men, and he judges your every sentence as he records the interrogation. You were too exhausted to even change into pajamas that night, so you are still wearing jeans and a hoodie. You know the stern look on his face and furrow in his brow is just there because he needs to know that you weren’t the one who did that to your vroom vrooms, but you still feel like a criminal in your own house. More men in black uniforms and guns come in, and one is playing games on his phone. You’ve already asked him if he has any cars in his garage and he tells you, “no.” He goes back to playing his game because he doesn’t understand what it is like to have the one thing that made you so happy instantly gone. You tell them that you are glad your house is a mess because you played with your little vroom vrooms every extra second you had.
A man with a backwards hat and a camera comes inside and gets to go be with your vroom vrooms, but you aren’t finished answering questions about what kind of fuel you put in your cars last night and what time the mechanic appointment was the day before. You can barely remember your name and you keep shaking your head thinking this must be some kind of vivid nightmare. This can’t really be happening. You think that if you were ever put in this situation you would scream or vomit, or be hysterical, but somehow all the shock and adrenaline is keeping you from literally going crazy.
You finally get to see Daddy again and you are crying so hard the snot and tears run together. This CANNOT really be happening. More and more impossible questions keep coming about what to do with your vroom vrooms and where they should go. You don’t know the answers to any of these and don’t even know what options exist. There wasn’t time to check the reviews for the best “vendors” to handle this situation, but they are rushing you and your brain is in a fog. They add in “You’re going to need to make a decision pretty quickly,” but you don’t know what the right decision could be. However, you know cars this new usually get taken to a diagnostic shop to figure out why they stopped working. The men in the black uniforms have never even heard of a private diagnostic business, but between Daddy’s Google search, advice from your mechanical network of friends, and the tag agency of sorts, you find another stop along your vroom vrooms’ route.
One really nice man wearing one of the black uniforms asks if you have a church family he can call. You don’t have that yet, so he keeps encouraging you to call someone to come be with you. You know Grandma has been around these types of situations and wouldn’t pass out, so Daddy makes up a lie to get her to come over. She knows something is wrong but never could have predicted this.
The man with the camera comes out of the room and tells you he has done this for a long time and seen some terrible wrecks. He tells you that he could tell you loved your vroom vrooms very much, and you tell him you always will. He also says that there was nothing you or anyone else could have done to prevent this, but immediately you question his credentials. How could he possibly know that? Is he a certified mechanic? What does he know that you don’t?
The men scribble things on notepads and go outside and to other rooms to make phone calls. Finally, they tell you that yours and Daddy’s stories match up and so did the one they got from your mechanic. Their job was done, so they start filing out of the house. One man with a badge stays behind.
Two more men from another official car agency come and after the longest wait of your life, you get to go be with your vroom vrooms again. It is so hard to see your beautiful, perfect vroom vrooms that way, and every minute that has passed has changed their condition. You want to see them, but you also know the longer time goes by, the more this will haunt you for the rest of your life. Daddy can’t even watch, it hurts too much. He stares out the window crying while you hold your vroom vrooms one last time. You kiss them, and sing them a song through your tears before the short, apologetic man wraps them in a white sheet and takes them away forever. You tell him to drive carefully even though you know your vroom vrooms can’t be hurt any more.
Some people tell Mommy that she should put on a happy face for you and that you wouldn’t want to see me sad. I promise you, Baby Boy, we are doing our best to function every day at work and on our own time. We are spreading The Caleb Effect every chance we get, but I hope you also have some sort of protected understanding that losing you is not only a full-time overwhelming shock, but it also came with a super-sized helping of trauma. I told you the EXTREMELY abridged, PG-rated version, but since I still feel like you are not able to experience any sadness where you are, I think you can handle it now.
Since today marks one year without you, this will be the last video and blog post in this series on the 2nd of each month. After today, we will not be posting on the day that marks the worst day of our lives, but instead we will be celebrating the best day – the day you were born. Every 9th of the month, we will be sharing The Caleb Effect to celebrate your much too brief, but exceptionally full life. We hope others will join us and tell us about it on your website or Facebook page.
This was the last video we ever got to take of you, so it is appropriate that this is the last video in the series. So much has happened in the year that we haven’t seen your beautiful, angelic little face, heard your excited sound effects playing with your vroom vrooms or passing an emergency vehicle on the highway. Everywhere we go there are reminders of you. I took a taxi a couple weeks ago and it made me think of you. You only rode in a couple taxis in your life, but I remember so clearly you pointing one out in front of your “school,” and yelling “taxi!!” Remember the wooden Jesus and all the children on the way to see Nemo? Well, we are officially part of that church where you went to “twos.” Your name appeared on the screen during the Memorial Day service, and we sobbed while we lit a candle for you, and decided the time was right. All kinds of signs have appeared and we’ve used them to direct our next moves. We bought a plot of land where all three of us will be someday, and one of these days it might even get finished (Help us either decide to go with some brightly colored painted granite, or find another alternative that better suits your personality.). Your cousins are all getting bigger, but I think your less than two-week older cousin would still be a head taller. Baby Griffin just turned a year old, and we get to see her more often since they moved closer. I give her kisses for you all the time and let her know that you love her. Daddy has your handprint over his heart and words inspired by you on his arm, and we started a website dedicated to spreading your contagious love. Mommy’s office is closing, and normally I would be really upset. However, it is going to force me to share my creative side with our community, and maybe as I keep stepping outside my comfort zone, an even larger audience. Mommy never belonged inside an office, but I’ve met a lot of nice people there over the years. Help me put new plans in motion so I can choose to work outside with my laptop some days, or use my music to boost spirits. There is still a lot to do to make life worth living every day, so please help us focus on what you would want us to do, and help us live a second, minute, hour, or day at a time until we get to see you again.
There are so many things I still want to say to you and tell you about, but Mommy always did have a lot of words. You never made it to real school, but I’m going to bet you might have had “talks too much” on every report card like Mommy, too.
I still miss holding and kissing you, and playing and laughing together. I’m never going to stop learning from you, Baby Bear. I wish we could all look at ourselves and beam like you did in this video.
You LOVED babies (right Mandi Moon?)! In fact, the whole reason I got my phone out in the first place was because you kept asking to watch the little video Aunt RoRo sent with your new baby cousin. I wanted to show Aunt RoRo how excited you were that she had arrived, so I flipped the camera around so you could see yourself and started recording. I asked who you wanted to see, but you were too distracted by your beautiful face to pronounce your words. I will always be distracted by that gorgeous face, but it is still very difficult to watch you and know I don’t get to pick you up and kiss you just for being so adorable. You went from telling me as clear as a bell, “Mama, Baby Griffin, Mama Baby Griffin,” to smiling and playing in the “mirror” as soon as I got my phone out. You were so proud of yourself, and so were we. We will always be proud of you, Baby Boy. No amount of prodding or asking who you wanted to see again would provide the clear responses like the ones you requested right before I got my phone out to record this moment. You didn’t care what I was saying. There were more faces in the camera to amuse yourself. These are the simple moments that Mommy misses so badly.
I’m sorry you never got to meet Baby Evan or Baby Griffin in person. I know you would have had such a good time playing and being the big cousin, so I hope you still show up in their rooms and play when Unka Steve, Aunt Rachelle, Unka Thomas, and Aunt RoRo aren’t looking. Be with them when they excitedly clap and celebrate every little silly face or new day to enjoy life. I would clap all day long if I got to hold you and see that sweet face smiling at himself in my phone again.
Patience was not a virtue you had mastered, and neither have I. I won’t understand in this lifetime how Mommy can record a video of a little boy with a simple ear infection and less than 24 hours, go through the agony of finding you the way I did. Please help me sit still to watch the video of life unfold before I get to squirm out of this temporary home, too. Waiting is so very difficult.
I don’t know how you got such wisdom and perspective at only 2-years-old, but it will not end a year after you left this world. We will treasure the gift of Caleb Lennon Wile for the rest of our lives.
I love you, Baby Boy. I always will.