Preparing for the unthinkable 

I would say it was about two months after Nash died that Todd had come home from work visibly upset. I asked him how his day went. He looked at me, pulled out a chair, sat down and said, “It was a tough day.” Although Todd has many tough days, he usually keeps them to himself. I think he does this out of fear of upsetting me. So when he pulled out a chair to talk, I knew he was really feeling horrible. I sat down beside him and just listened. Todd and I both have to be CPR certified for our jobs. That day had been his renewal day. He explained that it was about him and ten other male coworkers in the class. Everyone knew about Nash and what had happened. He said that you could tell they all felt awkward. Unfortunately, the only one who didn’t know what Todd had just been through was the instructor teaching the class. As the class reached the segment on infant CPR, the man spoke loudly and without a care in the world, asking if any of the guys had small children at home. No one answered. He asked again, still no answer. Then he said, “Wow, okay, is anyone expecting a baby?” Todd reluctantly raised his hand, and the instructor threw the baby doll on the table in front of Todd and said, “Good, you can go first.” He said he could feel all of the other guys eyes on him, and the one next to him slid the doll over and told Todd, “I will go first.”

I could tell as Todd told me the story just how upset the class had made him. At the same time, he said he felt so much more prepared. Even though he had taken the class before, this time was different. He tried to take it all in. I knew then that I wanted the whole family to take this class before they watched our new baby. However, after Todd’s story, I put it off for a long time. I finally reached out to Mike, the first responder who did CPR on Nash. I asked if he knew anyone who would do a private class for my family. After what Todd went through, I did not want all of us to do this in front of strangers. Mike reached out to a man named Kory, who said he would be more than happy to do this for our family. Now I just needed a place. Becca reached out to a couple of people, and it didn’t surprise me at all when two local business owners, Kristen and Courtney, said that we could use their place of business. So it was all set. Unfortunately, the only time I could make work was the middle of a Sunday afternoon. Even I wasn’t excited about that. Who wants to be stuck in a class during the weekend for three hours? I felt bad asking my family to do this, but at the same time I needed them to do it.  Todd said he laughed at my very blunt group message saying, “If you would like to watch the baby someday, CPR class will be such and such date.” I meant it to be blunt. I wanted people to know I was serious. If they were not certified in CPR, they could visit all they wanted but he would not be left alone with them. No one batted an eye; everyone jumped on board.

As the day approached, I was nervous about how we would all take it. Most everyone coming to the class had seen CPR being done on Nash. We all went through that together, and I know none of us will ever forget it.  What we saw cannot be unseen. I cannot describe the picture it leaves in all of our minds when we close our eyes at night. The thought of reliving that experience in some small way was almost paralyzing. Todd told me that he couldn’t do it again. I completely understood. Why put him through something that was hard on him and that he had just done? As everyone showed up to the class, I think I was most surprised to see my brother-in-law Jeremy. I had no idea when I scheduled the class three weeks earlier that it would fall during a Michigan state basketball game. A game that if they won would put them into the Final Four. I don’t know a bigger college basketball fan than Jeremy. To see him show up and miss a game that State ended up winning in double overtime touched my heart. He could have made an excuse or said he would do it another day, but he didn’t. I knew he would much rather be at home watching the game, but there was no way he was going to be able to tell us no. He wanted to be there and show his support.

I was surprised at how well we all did. Even my two teenage nieces attended the class. Everyone asked questions and was very focused on learning and knowing what to do. I was in the back of the room. As I sat there watching Kory do such an amazing and compassionate job teaching us, and also watching our family be so attentive to learning it, was the only time I felt emotional. Not many people have this kind of support. With them it’s not even a question. I pray we will never have to use what we learned that day, but if we do, we will be prepared. I can’t put Into words how much it meant to me to look around the room and see everyone coming together to put Todd and I at ease. To check one more thing off this list to not only keep this baby boy safe but to give us some peace of mind. Not everyone is blessed with the amazing families we are blessed with. Going through such a traumatic event alone would be horrible all on it’s own, let alone without their support. Fortunately we are not alone. We are going through this with all of them.

I take great comfort in knowing I will never say what so many grieving mothers have said to me, which is, “The worst is when your family tells you it’s time to move on.” I know I will never utter those words because like me, they will never move on. We will always remember and talk about Nash. He will always be included. We will always grieve and miss him. Todd and I are beyond lucky to have that kind of support. To know that no matter how bad or dark our world gets, we have our amazing families there beside us. To help us get through, to bring us to the light once again no matter how brief our stay. To know how much we are loved, that Nash is loved and of course our new baby on the way, fills my heart with so many emotions. I know if they could take away our pain, if they could bring Nash back to us, they would. Instead, they do what they can no matter how big or small to make sure we never have to feel alone in our heartache, even if that means spending three hours on a Sunday in a CPR class. They will do it, no questions asked. When I think of our families, my heart fills with so much pride. Nash was loved so strongly by so many. He would have had a great life with a great family. I can’t tell you what it means to me to know this lil guy will have that too.  When I count my blessings, our family tops the list!


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