Mikey's Story - 23 Years is not Enough
(Santa Clarita, CA)
Mikey, age 7
Mikey is my one and only son. He is the younger brother of Heather and twin to his sister Kristin. From day one, Mikey was a character. He had red hair, blue eyes, and a smile that could melt an iceberg. He was a rough and tumble little boy with a heart of gold and a compassion that was unusual for a child so young. That was in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s when he was a little boy.
Life was not easy for my little boy. Poverty, domestic violence, and eventually an absent father left him with no one to show him how to be a man. At the age of eight he felt he had to become “the man of the house.” Growing up with two sisters and a mom who try as she might could never replace a little boy’s need for his father, created a young man with a very large hole in his heart.
Mikey was intelligent. Almost too smart sometimes for his own good. He thought and felt deeply about things and as he began to realize that life is rarely fair and that people are not honest and just, he became somewhat jaded. He went to college and got an AA degree in Administration of Justice, hoping to go into law enforcement and be able to right some of the wrongs in the world. Then a few unfortunate incidents showed him that even cops are human, and he became cynical and gave up that pursuit.
Mikey loved music. Although his style of music, rap, was never one I could understand or appreciate, he found meaning in it and went on to create many of his own rap songs. His heart’s desire was to really make something of himself in the music field. After his death, I found his lyric journal in his room and marveled at the depth of understanding he had of the world and its problems. I found a song he wrote for me… one I will always cherish.
Mikey, at age 23, was just beginning to figure out what he was all about. He was in college working on a Communication Studies degree. I think he found an outlet in these classes, as they offered him the forum to speak his mind and really delve into the human condition and how people relate to one another. He was getting ready to transfer to a university to further pursue his degree when his life was unexpectedly cut short.
Like I said before, Mikey was a rough and tumble kid. He had his share of bumps and bruises, scrapes and broken bones. But he was rarely sick. I could count on one hand the number of times I had to take him to the doctor from the age of 10 on. And those few times he was sick, he was a less-than-cooperative patient. He was grumpy and irritable and just generally not pleasant to be around. I think he loved to be out and about playing so much that he just didn’t like being inside with an illness. But like I said, he was rarely sick.
So, when he came home from work on August 3rd, 2009 saying he didn’t feel well, I didn’t think much of it. A routine sore throat. But the next day, he was even worse and called in sick to both of his jobs – something he never did. I knew he must be feeling really crummy. When I got home from work the next day, he was pretty miserable. I took him to the doctor that night and he was diagnosed with a severe Strep Throat. We came home and he took his medication (Penicillin) on schedule that night and the next day. But by the next evening, he called me and said he thought he was allergic to the medication because he was getting severe chest pains whenever he took it.
We called the nurse advice line that night and she told him to take antacids. I went to bed that night and never saw my son alive again. He died sometime in the middle of the night from a cardiac arrhythmia brought on by an allergic reaction to the Penicillin.
It has been 10 months since Mikey’s death and I am beginning to accept it. It seems so random and ridiculous that something so common could cause something so tragic. For months (and even now sometimes) I feel guilty, like I should have known he was that sick. I should have had better maternal instincts and taken him to the ER instead of listening to that stupid nurse. I feel like I let him down. I feel like I let my girls down. Their brother died… and I couldn’t save him.
No one knows how much my heart aches. I move from day to day doing the things I’m supposed to do, but nothing feels like it means anything. Life has lost its flavor and I feel like I’m adrift in a massive sea going nowhere. I hide so much of my agony inside because it seems seeing my pain only hurts those who love me. So I pretend I’m moving on.
But really I’m not…I’m still stuck on August 7th, 2009 when my world was shattered. Should I be over this by now?