By LIZ LOPA
I was 10 when he died.
I took the phone call and I remember you could hardly speak for crying. I raced out to mum at the washing line, calling “Jenny’s on the phone and she’s crying”. It is funny how clearly I remember it and how, even at that young age, I knew something was terribly wrong.
It was a Sunday morning and I remember mum and dad racing around upstairs with an air of panic. They were putting on clothes and shoes and running out to the car. Frantic. What’s wrong I asked them.
“She thinks Michael is dead.”
I remember grabbing my statue of Mary and praying on my bed. Praying for you and for your little boy.
But it didn’t work. Michael was dead.
That dear little 7 month old baby – my nephew – was dead. Ripped away by what is now known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and what was then just called Cot Death.
This is how our family was touched by the tragedy that is the death of a baby.
And even worse (if it is possible), the unexplained death of a baby.
I remember asking Mum why our son had died and she said no one really knew but that sometimes babies are just sleeping so peacefully that they forget to breathe. That was the best explanation at the time, and in 2013 we know more but not that much more – mystery still surrounds the cause of this terrible phenomenon.
I don’t know how you coped back then. But I do remember you getting involved in what must have been some of the earliest Red Nose Days.
I recall selling red noses in the city and a man started abusing you, telling you that cot death was just a cover for parents who murder their children.
Dad had to come and pick us up.
I remember after your second son was born, sleeping with you in your water bed and the breathing alarm incessantly going off from the room next door as he rolled off the pad.