Thursday, December 1, 2011

Erik's Story

On December 7, 2003, a miracle happened. I became pregnant with a sweet little baby (and yes, I know exactly when it happened!). I was scared to death about being responsible for another person’s life, but I had always dreamed of being a mother and I knew this little being growing inside of me was the answer to all of my prayers. After many months of nausea and pure exhaustion, I was so happy to find out that Kyle and I were expecting a little boy. Shortly after finding out we were having a little boy, the complications started. When I was younger, my gynecologist told me that if I were to ever get pregnant that I would never be able to carry a baby to term. You can imagine how terrified I was when contractions started at 21 weeks. I was immediately prescribed a trebutaline pump and ordered to monitor myself twice a day for an hour each time. Having to stick myself every 3 days and wear a medicine pump all day every day wasn’t something that I thought about when I dreamed of being pregnant. After making it to 36 weeks, my doctor took me off the medicine and allowed nature to take it’s course. I surprisingly made it to 3 days before my due date.

On September 1, 2004 at 9:55 p.m., after 16+ hours of labor, Samuel Erik Quarles entered the world. It was in that instant that I fully believed in love at first sight. I was overcome with emotion and couldn’t believe that I could love someone as much as I loved him. He was mine. He was absolutely beautiful. He was perfect.

Erik was the center of my universe from the second he took his first breath. I lived and breathed that boy. He was my world and my everything. I didn’t know what life was until he became my son. His life was full of adventures and having fun. I wanted Erik to experience things that most kids only dreamed about. Kyle and I encouraged him to dream big and do whatever it took to makes those dreams come true.

Erik LOVED baseball and around the age of 2, I could tell that he was going to make it big someday. Erik had talent that you can only be born with. I just knew that I would be seeing his name in the major leagues.

Because of who is Daddy was, Erik couldn’t help but be country. He lived to be outside. He stayed in the dirt and didn’t believe in wearing anything but “work” clothes when he was doing anything but playing ball or swimming. It didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees outside – Erik would usually have on work pants, a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off and a hat. You could usually find him hammering nails in places he shouldn’t be or using his saw in attempts to cut the trees in our front yard down. As he got older, he became fascinated with taking everything apart and not always wanting to put it back together!

I vividly remember Erik counting down the days until it was warm enough to go swimming. He was around 2 when he really got into swimming and being in the water. He would’ve went swimming every single day if we would’ve let him. We spend a lot of time at my Mama’s house during the summer because Erik loved the water so much. I also taught him to not be afraid of water and when I thought he was confident enough, I started teaching him how to swim. By the time he was 4 years old, he was swimming completely by himself. He also developed quite the tan during the summer time. I was quite jealous of how quickly he tanned and how beautiful and brown his skin was come July.

4-wheelers came into Erik’s life when his cousin, Chase, got one for his birthday. Erik was around 3.5 years old at that point and constantly hounded us for his own 4-wheeler. Kyle assured him that when he was older, he’d have his own 4-wheeler. Erik never let us forget that either. He finally got his own mini ATV for Christmas in 2008.

Around the age of 4, Erik developed a love for the rodeo. He was obsessed with bull riding and got it into his head that he was going to be a professional bull rider one day. I think that was the only dream of his that I discouraged! I couldn’t imagine the idea of my baby climbing on the back of a 1200 lb. beast and trying to hang on for 8 seconds. The thought alone made me cringe. There were toooo many times that I’d find Erik straddling the dog house and pretending that he was a bull rider. I couldn’t help but laugh.

It was also around this time that Erik became a big brother to twin sisters. He actually called the whole twin thing! (more details on that in the girls’ story) He loved his sisters and was so excited to show them off to anybody that would pay attention. He called them “his babies” and was always so helpful when the girls were newborns. He kind of lost interest when they became mobile and started messing with his things though.

On August 18, 2009, I watched as my sweet little boy started his first day of kindergarten. He was beyond excited and I was beyond proud of him. I was lucky enough to be a SAHM and be able to take Erik to and from school. He eventually got to the point of not needing me to walk in with him. It was bittersweet for me to watch him growing up and becoming independent. Erik did really well in school and his teacher was constantly praising him for his good behavior and sweet nature – definitely made me proud!

The beginning of November, 2009, Erik, along with the rest of Kyle’s family, experienced a devastating loss. We said goodbye to the only father that Kyle had ever known. Papa, as everyone called him, passed away unexpectedly. At 5 years old, Erik was old enough to understand what had happened, but still too young to fully grasp what death really was.

If someone would’ve told me that I would be burying my own child 2 weeks to the day that Kyle had buried Papa, I couldn’t have believed it. Unfortunately that nightmare was my reality. On Sunday, November 15, 2009, Erik was riding his 4-wheeler like always and came upon a stump and a ditch. To this day, we’re not sure if Erik jerked the handlebars to miss the stump and ditch or if he hit the stump and it jammed the handlebars into his chest. Either way, the end of the handlebars jammed into his chest, knocking him off of his 4-wheeler, and broke several ribs. Kyle came to Erik’s rescue and knew that something wasn’t right the second Erik demanded that his helmet come off. Erik’s body was swelling at a rapid rate and the only way that Erik was comfortable was standing up. Kyle held Erik and assured him that everything would be ok as he called 911. The EMT’s that were there the day Papa died were the same ones there during all of this. They laid Erik down on the back board and his condition went downhill after that. Because head trauma hadn’t been ruled out, a helicopter was en route to get Erik and fly him to the nearest children’s hospital – which was about a 45 minute drive away. Erik’s condition continued to worsen and it became clear that even a helicopter ride wouldn’t be fast enough. Plans were quickly changed – without Kyle and I being notified – and Erik was rushed to the nearest hospital. He coded in the ambulance on the way and never came back to. The ER staff done everything in their power to save him, but it was too late. My sweet boy was gone. After a huge ordeal, Kyle and I finally arrived at the hospital. I cried so hard over his little body and begged and pleaded for him to come back to me. I begged and pleaded with God because I thought that there was no way in hell that I could live without him.

It’s been over 2 years since that awful day in November and part of me still hasn’t accepted the fact that Erik really is gone. I look at his pictures and have to remind myself that he isn’t coming back and that this is my life. I still have hope that I’ll wake up from this nightmare at any second and my heart will be healed.


Carol said...

Ashley, this is the first time I've actually heard the story about Erik. I knew you lost a child. You're living every parent's nightmare. To say I'm sorry sounds so hollow, so I'll say that I am in awe of your courage and your strength and they way you go forward every day to honor your child's memory. One day you will be with him again. I know you will. In the meantime, keep doing what you're doing. You are making a huge difference in the lives of others and honoring your son at the same time. Hugs.........

Tesha said...

I have to say I can hardly see the computer through my tears. I am so very sorry you had to say goodbye to your precious Erick. I have 3 sons that love to 4 wheel and ride motorcycles. My last son was stillborn 1-24-12. I can not imagine the intense pain you have felt. I am having a weekly link up on Tuesdays for bereaved mommies to encourage each other. I would love for you to join us, this is such a difficult path and one no mommies should be on alone. I am blessed to have found you. Your are a brave mommy I will be following you. Hugs and prayers coming your way!

Shannon said...

Ashley...thank you stopping by my blog. I am crying right now for you. I cannot imagine what that day was like, and I have lost a child. Accidents are so unpredictable. They traumatize us to our core. But it's the strength of our Father that carries us through. I would love to connect with you and keep in touch. We will get through our losses, and once day again see our precious sons. :) Thinking of you and lifting you in prayer...Shannon

Trennia said...

I am visiting from Tesha's link up.
My heart goes out to you...please know you are not alone.May the Lord give you peace and comfort that only He can give.

Jenny said...

Ashley, I'm sitting here at my computer reading this (I found you through the MOM's link up) and am crying and in shock. I cannot believe how quickly your world was shattered and how beautifully you've documented your precious boy's story here. I am so, so sorry to hear this tragic story. I pray for the Lord's comfort and peace to surround you each and every day.

Kim said...

Oh Ashley, I am so so sorry about your precious son Erik. My heart is breaking for you. Thank you for sharing your feelings through your blog. Thinking of you as I know how difficult each day can be.

Brittany said...

My heart SANK as I read this. Here I am thinking that he got sick and the illness is what took him. I just kept saying "oh god no" as I read this. He sounds like a wonderful little boy. You guys are very blessed to have had that time with him.