Everything about Aly's life was a gift to us. We cherished every minute with her.
This is a sad story for us to tell. These are our thoughts and perspectives.
We went to the St. Charles County Fair. Of course, these days so many of us are on the go so we stopped at a fast food restaurant. We’re a typical suburban family on the go. Bob works in sales, selling food to restaurants. Tina works as a surgical technician. We had three beautiful children. Tyler was nine, a wonderful young man. He was in the fourth grade. Jordan, was seven and in second grade. What a beautiful and sweet young lady! And Aly, our third child, was only three and a half, when this whole thing started.
You see, Aly was an unbelievable little Angel, for her entire short little life. She was always the quiet, shy little girl, so innocent and sweet. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect little girl. She loved it when her mommy and daddy held her. She just didn’t want us to put her down. Aly would usually sleep between us. We never seemed to mind. It seemed she would always stay near us. She didn’t want to venture far from us. Ty and Jordan, they didn’t mind running and playing. They loved having their little sister around. Aly couldn’t get enough of them either.
This is a hard story to write about. You see, that hot night in July, Aly had eaten a hamburger that was pink in the middle. It wasn’t cooked to the correct temperature. We are about as certain as we can be about this cause, without being certain. About six days after eating this burger, Aly became sick with a high fever. We thought it was just a bug. You know the kind. We decided to play it safe and take Aly to the pediatrician that day. Just a virus, a lot of this is going around. Go home, normal procedures. However, Aly was still sick a few days later, now with additional symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea. Let’s play it safe and go back to the doctor a second time. Still, a bug going around. Keep an eye on her. Well, another day goes by and she’s not doing any better. Actually, she is getting weaker.
Now we know it’s more serious. This time we took her to the emergency room. They also see how serious it is. Aly was admitted to intensive care at the hospital. She looks very dehydrated. We expected a stay in the hospital of about 23 hours so they could give her I.V fluids. She should be okay though. Well, 10 to 12 hours later, the doctors are getting more and more concerned. Aly is not responding to the fluids. She has not urinated in some time now. This is the first sign of something very serious going on. We are really starting to get scared now. The doctors informed us that Aly’s kidneys are not working. (This is now past midnight on the Sunday when we brought her in). They tell us that she needs to be transported by ambulance to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. She needs pediatric dialysis. I remember crawling in bed with my baby and thinking I can’t believe this is happening. The nurse came into our room and said we think she has HUS. Hemolytic uremic syndrome.
I said it over and over again in my head so I could remember this big name and then dozed off to sleep for what seemed to be a second.
Upon arrival, they put in a catheter for hemodialysis. Again, we are very concerned about all this, but we had no idea how bad things would get. Aly went through dialysis almost daily. Every day was an experience. Things just weren’t getting any better. We were on an extremely rough roller coaster ride. One moment things were looking better and it seems the next we were looking at additional negative news. Aly was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome. This was caused by E. coli O157:H7. This was an isolated case so it’s so hard for us to know for sure where she got this from. Things went from okay, to bad, to worse in the 33 days that we spent in the PICU at Glennon. Aly could only have ice chips and even that small amount she couldn’t keep down. We thought Aly was going to be fine. Her kidneys appeared to start functioning a little. We had reason to believe that she was on the way to recovery. We had suddenly been given the news on Sunday, September 5th that Aly’s blood pressure was dropping. The doctors put her on medicine to help keep her pressure up. Aly did not respond very well. Things just kept getting worse. On Tuesday, she was put on a ventilator to help her breath. We had no idea that would be the last time we would speak with Aly while she was here on earth. What a long and horrible night this would become. We had our family, friends and pastor with us. We all held hands and prayed on our knees, asking God to heal our precious Aly. It was about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning when the doctors came into our waiting room and told us that Aly may not make it through the night. What a terrible thing to hear about your little child! We cried and prayed all night long. The next morning, it got even worse. Now her little heart was only working at about 10% of normal function. She needed to be put on a heart-lung machine. They put you on this when your heart isn’t strong enough to pump the blood through your body. This was the last resort to save her life. At this point we were hoping for a miracle and wanted to do everything we could to save her life. The thought of losing a child was unbearable at this time. This was now Wednesday and an unbelievable period of time for us. How could this be happening to us? We were good parents. We love our children so much. They are our life!
On Thursday morning 9-9-99, the doctors informed us that Aly’s condition had deteriorated so badly and so quickly, that we should bring Tyler and Jordan in to say good-bye! What a sad and tragic time for all of us. This is not something that parents are supposed to go through. We are there to protect our children. We felt a sense of numbness. The nurses put her on my lap with Bob along side of me. I had a chance to talk to her for a few minutes and we held her in our arms until she took her last breath. Aly lost her battle with E. coli O157:H7 at the age three and a half.
Our hearts fell to the floor and we had a heavy feeling of sadness that we couldn’t explain. We didn’t know you could hurt so much and still go on living. When we walked out of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, I could hear the cars driving by the freeway a block away. I couldn’t believe the world continued to move. My life had just come to a complete stop. We felt a sense of numbness. A parent is supposed to protect their child, not bury them.
We buried Aly on a Sunday. We had a beautiful service for Aly. What unbelievable support for our family! A two-mile line of cars followed us on that day to the cemetery, where a beautiful voice sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow” as hundreds of pink balloons were let go.
Sometimes, in life, things happen that you don’t expect and losing a child is one of them. We never thought this would be something we would ever have to go through. It sure isn’t the way we planned our life. Not the road we would have chosen.
Everyone gets through a loss the way they know how. We really looked at this as God’s will and the only way it made sense to us. It also relieved us of all the feelings that go along with grief. Like, shame, guilt and what could we have done differently to change the outcome. We had to give this to God and put it in his hands. He sees the big picture and we only see what is in front of us. You do have a choice, to become bitter and stuck in your grief, or move forward and make meaning out of Aly’s life. Maybe even help others along the way. Sometimes GOD uses things in your life to draw you closer to him and this was exactly what he did for us.
Now I’m not saying we still don’t have bad days, because we do. And I’m not saying this loss was easy. But what I am saying is this… If you have God in your life you can get through anything, even the loss of a child. We are a witness to all who have lost someone close to them. We know this was not our plan to witness and look at this in a positive way. We know its God’s plan and we will walk in faith knowing he is beside us helping us every step of the way. He loves us so much and we feel that in our everyday life. God has healed our broken heart and given us the courage and strength to move forward. God poured out his love and gave it to us abundantly. God used Aly’s life to profoundly change our life.
We choose to lean on our heavenly father for support and really for a sense of peace with this whole thing. We wanted to grieve in a healthy way because we didn’t want to be stuck in our grief; it was a painful place to be.
We decided to lean on God for help, we truly thought no one could help us but him. We began to feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. We didn’t know how or why but we knew God was holding our hand and walking with us. We felt so grateful that we had a chance to know Aly. She taught us how to be strong and courageous in her short life. We started to remind ourselves of what we still had, instead of what we had lost. Everything about Aly’s life was a gift to us. We cherished every minute with her.
We believe God knew she would be here for a short time and than he called her home. He gave her to us because she would be so loved in our family. We have chosen to walk by faith and know that God knows what he is doing and works everything out for the good. We have a deep treasure knowing we will see her again. What a wonderful day that will be. Aly has made heaven look more appealing and we now work on putting our treasures in heaven, not on earth. When we leave here we can take nothing with us. Bob and I were able to have another child after Aly. We have been so blessed with another little angel. Annie was born on 01-01-01. Annie has brought us so much joy into our life. We have read many books on grief and there is a high divorce-rate when you lose a child. This is something we never had to worry about. We have celebrated twenty years of marriage in 2008. Tina is now a partner in an interiors and gift store and what did we name the store? ALY’S. It’s been a blessing and I know it came from God. If you would like to visit our web site it’s http://www.alysinteriors.com. We have everything you need to decorate your home and we also carry bereavement items as well.
We still remain strong in our faith knowing “with God all things are possible”.