Camron’s Story by Dad

 In memory of Camron John Marowitz

6/24/2021 – 7/15/2021


Camron’s story told by his Dad. A story of loss and love.

I lost my child. My baby boy, Camron passed away the morning of July 15th, 2021. Part of me still doesn’t believe it happened. Sometimes I feel like he will still be coming home one day. The story of the 3 weeks I had with him still haunts me.

It began with a call from my wife, Nicole, who was at a routine doctor’s appointment for our unborn child. She said that her doctor told her to go to the hospital and that they would need to monitor her for weeks to make sure our baby was growing at the rate he should be. Our baby was measuring a few weeks behind and the doctors noticed he had absent blood flow in the umbilical cord. She went to Stony Brook Medical Hospital before me because I had been working and had to wait for my mother-in-law to come to our house and watch our 2 other children, Jaxon and Mackenzie.

Once I got to the hospital I had no idea where to go. I checked in at the front desk and was told to go to triage. Once there I was still lost. A nurse saw me and took me into the back where Nicole was already hooked up to monitors. Within minutes a doctor was in the room preparing us for the worst possible outcome. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I heard there was a chance they would need to deliver the baby and that my son might not make it past delivery I went into shock. I just couldn’t believe it and I wasn’t expecting to hear that being Nicole was only 26 weeks pregnant. At this point I decided I needed to stay strong for Nicole and give her some comfort in any way I could. Eventually we were taken into another room in labor and delivery. A short female high-risk doctor walked in and without a word started looking at all the screens and numbers in which Nicole was hooked up to. She began speaking to us with an accent very hard to understand. She told us bluntly it didn’t look good and she thinks we would have to deliver the baby that day and the chance of his survival was slim. She was so matter of fact about it. Cold with poor bedside manner. I broke down crying for the first of many times. The nurse in the room tried to comfort us and asked the doctor what else they could do as she didn’t agree with how the doctor was presenting the news to us. Somehow within minutes of that conversation, the numbers and screens this doctor was looking at started to get better and she decided that we can wait on delivery for the time being.

After she left, a doctor from the hospital NICU, nicknamed Muz, came in to talk to us about the process and what happens after delivery. He assured us that everything would be okay and that he saw plenty of babies even smaller than Camron survive. He calmed us and provided us hope. The monitors continued to show improvement and we were eventually taken out of labor and delivery to another room for constant monitoring. Nicole received a steroid shot which was supposed to help Camron grow quicker. We were in this room for a week or so meeting with numerous doctors, having tests done, and keeping track of the weight and heartbeat of the baby. I stayed in the hospital with Nicole each day and night while Jaxon and Mackenzie stayed with their grandparents. The same NICU doctor that calmed us that first day visited us during the week to see how we were doing. At this point there was still so much hope. Hope for a future with Camron.

Nicole and I both continued to work remotely from our jobs in the hospital that week as we had no idea how long we would be there. When we had found out Nicole was pregnant a few months prior, we had decided Camron would be our last child due to the difficult pregnancies Nicole had with our other children. During that week we made all of the doctors aware of this and that we wanted Nicole’s tubes to be removed no matter what happened. Each doctor would advise against it due to the circumstances but would respect our wishes if that’s what we decided to do.

A week or so after the initial weighing of the baby, they checked again. Watching and studying the doctors faces, I knew something was wrong. It was at that point they realized Camron was still not growing at the rate he should be even with the steroid shot and he started to show reverse blood flow in the umbilical cord. A different high-risk doctor, Dr. Bernasko, came into our room and said the plan was to have a C-Section the very next day as he said it was better for Camron to be outside than inside at this point. Dr. Bernasko was the total opposite of the high-risk doctor we met that first day in the hospital. He was kind, gentle, and explained everything in detail, answering any questions we had no matter how long it took. Dr. Bernasko talked us out of having Nicole’s tubes removed. He knew no matter what happened this wouldn’t be the end of our story and he believed everything would work out in the end. With this faith, he said we were being moved back down to a room in labor and delivery. I made my arrangements with work, signed off, and we made our way down.

Once we were in our new room, the nurses put Nicole back on the monitors. Within a very short period of time, Dr. Bernasko hurried into our room. Nicole had a feeling something was wrong and he confirmed that Camron’s heartbeat slowed significantly for a little. He changed course and said the emergency C-Section would happen within the next hour or two. I started to freak out inside, scared for our baby and scared for Nicole. I had no idea what to do. The Yankees game was playing on the television in the room but it did little to calm my nerves. The nurses started getting everything ready and gave me a gown to put on. I was nervously shaking but tried to remain calm to not scare Nicole more than she already was. They told me they would take me to a separate room to change when they brought Nicole into the operating room and once ready they would come back and get me.

Once I got to this separate room I was alone, scared and nervously shaking, not knowing what to do and not knowing what would happen. It seemed like it took forever until the nurse came to get me. I read later on about other dads feeling the same way as they waited to go into the operating room, like time stood still. When the nurse came to get me, we walked to the operating room together. Once we walked in I had no idea what to do or where to go. The room was so bright and cold. There were so many different doctors and nurses getting things ready. Everyone had a job to do and knew their roles but me. I sat next to Nicole, held her hand, and started to cry. I just couldn’t help it. The crying would continue for the few hours we were in that room.

Within the first half hour, the doctors were able to remove Camron and hand him directly over to the NICU doctors where they huddled around him for about 20 minutes hooking him up to different machines and a ventilator. Camron was born at 27 weeks on June 24th, 2021 at 3:13pm, weighing only 1lb 4oz. I was so scared, hoping and praying that everything was okay. At one point we heard a tiny little cry, which would be the last time once he was hooked up to the ventilator. Eventually, the doctors rolled Camron over to us in his incubator to allow us to see him before they headed to the NICU for more testing. Still crying, I was allowed to take pictures of him and at that moment I felt as if everything just might actually be okay. After they wheeled him out of the room, I sat back down next to Nicole, held her hand again, and just prayed Camron would be okay.

Soon after, I began hearing the doctors that were still in the room saying Nicole had lost a lot of blood and that they might need to give her a blood transfusion if they couldn’t get it under control, and if so I would need to leave the room. The worried faces made me even more scared that something bad now could happen to Nicole. I began crying harder still holding her handnow praying that she would be okay as well. I wouldn’t be able to survive without her. Luckily, awhile later Dr. Bernasko assured us he got the bleeding to stop and he was closing everything up. I was relieved but still very nervous not knowing what was happening with Camron in the NICU.

After a few hours in the operating room, we were taken to a recovery room where Nicole was able to order food and relax. We kept asking if anyone could give us updates on Camron but no one could tell us much. After hours of waiting, I alone was allowed to go to the NICU since Nicole was still in recovery. I was hesitant to go alone but Nicole told me our baby needed someone by his side so I made my way down. As it was already nighttime at this point, it was very quiet and calm inside the NICU. A nurse greeted me and I was taken to his room. I finally noticed how small he actually was and how many wires and machines he was connected to. The nurse began telling me how he was doing and what each machine was used for. Flashbacks of my first-born son, Jaxon, came to me when he was in the NICU at Albany Medical Hospital (a story for another time). I took pictures of Camron and sent them to Nicole and the rest of our family. I had so much hope as this point and really thought we made it through and in fact everything would indeed be okay.

I went back to the room Nicole was in and told her everything the nurse had relayed to me. A few hours later, Nicole was finally allowed to go down to the NICU with me in a wheel chair. I took her down myself and we stayed with Camron in his room and just stared at him, occasionally holding his hand and caressing his tiny head. Eventually, Nicole felt tired and wanted to head back to rest. As we started heading out of the NICU, Nicole was saying she didn’t feel well. When I asked what was wrong she suddenly began throwing up in the wheel chair in the NICU lobby. I yelled for help as there wasn’t many people around in the middle of the night. I asked Nicole if she was okay but heard no response. I kept asking her and tapping her with still no response. I freaked out. A few seconds later she popped up and finally responded to me. She had fainted for a few seconds and had no idea what had happened. I again went into shock as I didn’t know what this meant or why it happened, scared for my wife’s health. Luckily, a high-ranking NICU nurse came to help and escorted us back to our room. The next day, Dr. Bernasko confirmed that Nicole fainted because she had lost a lot of blood during surgery and ate (a hamburger) soon after. Thankfully, rest was all she needed.

After this incident, things started to settle down. Nicole was kept in the hospital for recovery for a few days and we would go back and forth to the NICU. We started to become friendly with some of Camron’s NICU nurses, especially two in Christina and Donna. Both were seasoned nurses who developed a liking to Camron and pretty much were our “official” nurses on the days they were working. Days passed with long hours of sitting in his room waiting to speak with doctors and monitoring Camron’s improvement. Each day came with a new obstacle. Some days he had good days and others there were setbacks. The doctors and nurses comforted us telling us this was normal and not to get discouraged.

A few days later, Nicole was discharged from the hospital and we started to go back and forth from our house to the hospital. Our other 2 children, Jaxon and Mackenzie, continued to stay with their grandparents so that Nicole and I could keep our focus on Camron. After a few weeks we received encouraging news that the testing of Camron’s head and brain came back normal which usually means if the baby is stable the chance of survival increases significantly. We were so happy and excited, unaware and unprepared for the week to come.

At this point, I started to work remotely again from the hospital preparing for months of back and forth to the NICU. After additional testing, the doctors informed us that they found a hole in Camron’s heart in which they said was normal for a premature baby and that they had different ways of treatment besides surgery. This became our main concern for the rest of the week. The doctors told us they would begin to give Camron ibuprofen which was known to help close the hole in the heart of premature babies. I did a lot of research to be well informed when speaking with the doctors. Although I had some concerns I kept my trust in the doctors. After a few days of treatment, we were told it looked like the ibuprofen was indeed working and we were ecstatic. We passed another obstacle in this long journey for Camron. Unfortunately, this happiness didn’t last long as we walked into the NICU the next morning and were told that Camron had not peed or pooped overnight. They began monitoring this closely because it could mean something was failing inside his body. When I heard this news, I could no longer work my job remotely as I wanted to keep my full attention on my baby. So many different doctors came in and out assuring us they were doing everything possible to help him. I had read that although ibuprofen can help with the heart issue, it could also cause other issues in premature babies. I asked the doctors about this but they assured us that wasn’t the reason this was happening to him. We never found out fully if the treatment for his heart was the reason for his other organs failing. This kept me up many nights after feeling guilty that had I done more research he would have been okay and I could have saved him.

One night, one of the NICU doctors told Nicole she could hold Camron since she hadn’t been able to since he was born. I worried why they were allowing her to hold him now when we were told we couldn’t prior since he was connected to a ventilator. The doctor said there was no reason and just wanted Nicole to finally be able to hold Camron. I knew in my heart something wasn’t right but again I kept my faith in the doctors.

About a day later, a doctor we had never met from a different department came in by herself to check on Camron to see why he still wasn’t peeing or pooping. We asked her questions on what she thought was happening and what they could do differently to help him. She responded to us bluntly saying if what they were currently doing didn’t work there was nothing else she could do and he would die. Upon hearing this, Nicole and I broke down crying thinking this was the end and we were going to lose him. The nurse, Donna, walked in after the doctor left, noticed us crying, and asked us what had happened. Once we told her she immediately brought in a NICU doctor to assure us that what the other doctor said to us was wrong and there was still plenty of things they can still try and to not give up hope.

The next morning, I came to the NICU before Nicole and walked into a bunch of doctors and nurses huddled around Camron in his room. In that moment my heart felt like it stopped and I knew something was terribly wrong. I noticed our favorite nurse of Camron’s, Christina, crying in the corner of his room but she walked away hoping I would not see. The doctors told me that Camron still had not peed or pooped and it looked as if his organs were failing and his body was shutting down. I immediately called Nicole and told her to get to the hospital as fast as she could. The NICU doctors assured us again that they could still try a few other things that might help Camron.

By the end of the day, the NICU doctors began preparing us for the worst. A pediatric surgeon came into Camron’s room to check if he thought there was anything that he could do surgery wise to help. I remember watching his face staring at Camron with just complete sadness. I knew he was thinking there was nothing he could do for him. He told us if we wanted he could perform a surgery on Camron but it was no sure thing it would work and that there was a high probability of him dying on the table without us being there. He recommended against the surgery but would respect our wishes. A little while later after our request to speak to the NICU doctors, three doctors came intogether, including Muz, the doctor we met the first day in the hospital who calmed us and assured us everything would be okay. I could tell it hurt him to have to be the one to talk to us since we became friendly during our time in the NICU. They gave us our options but also recommended against the surgery and to instead take him off life support as we hold him in our arms. We asked these NICU doctors if this was also the recommendation of the Director of the NICU and they told us yes. Nicole and I broke down crying knowing Camron’s life was coming to an end and there was nothing we could do to change it. After talking it over, we decided to take the recommendation of the doctors so that we could be with Camron until the end and so he wouldn’t die alone. At this point I was finally able to hold Camron myself and I held him in my arms for hours. It was beautiful and yet heartbreaking.

The moment we realized it was the end was when my body first started shaking uncontrollably, not realizing at the time I was having a panic attack. I had never experienced them in my life and I went into complete shock as I couldn’t believe Camron’s life could end so abruptly after all the hope that we had. Nicole wanted the hospital’s Chaplain to come in for a quick baptism. As he started reciting the words spoken during baptizing a childin the Catholic religion, the words he spoke were not meant for a child who was dying. He spoke about the child growing and about the child living. This made me breakdown crying even more as I knew he would never get that opportunity to grow and live, at least not in this life. As the Chaplain finished and started to leave he turned to me and said that he would pray for me to find peace which at the time did not comfort me at all.

As the hospital shifts changed and the morning crew came into the NICU they told us we were allowed to have our parents come to the NICU to see and meet Camron for a little (COVID-19 restrictions were still in effect at the time). I made the arrangements and when they arrived I walked both sets of grandparents into the NICU as my mom held onto me sobbing and they were finally able to meet their grandchild for about 15 minutes.

When our parents left, the Director of the NICU came into our room and asked if we were ready and to take our time saying goodbye. Within 30 minutes, the NICU doctor and nurse were in our room readying to take our son off of life support. Nicole held Camron in her arms while I sat next to her holding them both. The doctor began turning off all the machines and disconnecting him from the ventilator. I remember seeing shadows of the feet of nurses who didn’t know what was happening outside the room running to the door but being told it was okay and he was just being taken off of life support. The shadows of those nurses feet still haunt me until this day as I wondered in the moment if we were doing the right thing. As Camron started to slip away, I prayed to God one last time to let him continue to breathe and stay alive but those prayers unfortunately went unanswered. We both held his lifeless body in total shock for the first time without being connected to any machine. We never could have imagined this moment three weeks earlier. The NICU staff let us stay as long as we needed to say our goodbyes. I still remember the Director of the NICU crying in the corner of our room as we both wept holding our dead child.

Once we said our final goodbyes and gave our final kisses to Camron, we handed him over to the nurse to begin the process of bringing our baby to the hospital morgue. The thought of my baby being in some cold room alone, without his mom and dad, made me sick. As we walked out of the room into the lobby of the NICU I did not sign out on the sheet on the counter in which I had done every night prior when I would leave the NICU. It felt too final and I didn’t have the strength to do it. As Nicole and I walked through the hospital on our way to the car we had no idea what to do with ourselves. I felt broken, like I wasn’t myself anymore, and although I was walking I felt as if I was floating, detached from my body. Everyone walking past us, some with newborn babies, had no idea we just lost our baby and we were leaving the hospital for the last time. I felt guilt, utter sadness, and anger. The 5-minute drive home felt like forever, both of us in total shock just looking out the window and not speaking. When we made it home I just wanted to get inside as fast as possible as I didn’t want to speak with or see any of our neighbors. Nicole and I stood in our kitchen alone for a second and broke down crying holding each other up. The month-long fight and the 3 weeks with our baby boy were over and we were left with complete emptiness. We curled up in our bed each holding onto a blanket Camron had been wrapped in breathing in his scent like he was still there in our arms. We fell asleep for the rest of the day as the flowers and edible arrangements started to pile in.

The next day we had Jaxon and Mackenzie come home and we had to tell them that their baby brother they were so excited to meet would not be coming home. They would never be able to meet him. Although they didn’t fully understand the magnitude of it as they were only 5 and 2 ½ years old at the time we tried as best as possible to make them understand it was okay to be sad and ask questions. To this day, they continue to speak his name and include him in our family count and when they do school assignments on their family tree. What amazing and strong-minded children we raised. I am so proud of them.

Over the next days we had to make arrangements for a wake, funeral, and burial. Nicole and I went to a funeral home in Smithtown, NY to start the process. As we explained to the woman who it was for, she seemed speechless, a trait we would notice many people would have when they learned we lost a child. As I looked through the different messages for the sympathy cards I broke down crying again. It was at that moment the death of our son was real and it hit me hard.

The day of the wake was a blur. That day I had multiple panic attacks as I continued to experience them since the day we were told Camron wouldn’t make it. As Nicole was familiar with them, she was able to calm me most of the times I experienced them. When we arrived at the funeral home the man in charge apologized to us and said that since Camron was so young his skin had already started to deteriorate but that he did the best he could. We were able to see him prior to the wake but decided to have a closed casket as we didn’t want people to remember him in that way. As family and friends piled in, most would say “I don’t know what to say.” As I didn’t want to talk much I didn’t mind that at all. Those who would say “It’s okay, everything happens for a reason” or downplay it made us feel worse as we didn’t care if they thought it happened for a reason or that “God had a bigger plan”. What type of God would let an innocent baby die!? How could you follow a God like that!? We hated God for it and we hated organized religion for making people believe that. As the years went by, I began to realize God didn’t let our baby die. He had no control over that. He was by our side, He grieved and continues to grieve with us, and He provided us strength and love to help us go on each day after for our other children.

The next day was the funeral and burial. This day was a blur as well. My father-in-law drove us to the funeral home first to say our final goodbyes to Camron before the casket was closed for good. The night before, Nicole and I had written personal letters to Camron. I kneeled down in front of Camron and read him my letter as tears ran down my face. I placed it next to his body along with a small toy, said my goodbye and kissed his little head for the last time. As Nicole and our other immediate family members went to say their final goodbyes, I sat down on a chair in the room of the funeral home. I closed my eyes because it was too painful watching everyone and the sadness on their faces. It’s hard to explain what happened next. I felt as if I was having a dream, but I also knew I wasn’t sleeping. I was in my backyard watching my children playing and running around. I saw 3 children and I realized the young toddler I was seeing was Camron. He had long dirty blonde hair and was full of life. He was running after his older brother and sister with the biggest smile on his face. He was so happy and I felt such a calmness in that moment. I wanted to stay in that vision forever but I unfortunately was awoken by the funeral home director as he said a few prayers prior to us leaving. I believe I was given that gift from God because He knew I needed comfort on that painful day.

Afterwards, we headed to the Church following behind the hearse in which Camron laid. I put on my headphones and listened to music to block everything out. Once we arrived I was tasked again with saying hello to everyone and receiving the “I’m Sorry’s.” Once our Priest started speaking, he brought up all the happy moments we had in this same place where we now sit. He mentioned how Nicole and I were married there and how our two other children were baptized there. He continued saying that we would always be considered to everyone there as parents of three children, two here on earth with us, and one up in Heaven. After hearing him say these beautiful things to us I began having another panic attack and don’t remember anything else the Priest said after. When the ceremony finished, we walked out of the Church and although I was surrounded by many family and friends, I felt more alone than ever. I didn’t want to be there and I wished I could just disappear.

As we made our way to the cemetery I again put my music on. I remember hoping that we wouldn’t get there too quickly because I knew this would be our final goodbye. When we did get there, everything was already set up and the Deacon from the funeral home said a few words which again was a blur. As we were told to throw the roses provided to us into Camron’s grave, Nicole and I went last. The moment it was my turn I kissed my rose a few times, broke down crying again, and threw the rose into his grave, as I watched the workers start to fill the grave with dirt. As I was crying watching this, the panic attacks started back up and Nicole held onto me as I felt the hands of others behind us trying to calm me as well. As everyone said their final goodbyes, Nicole and I stayed behind. We both held each other and cried. I bent down to pick up a rock that was part of his grave to keep with me forever. As we stood there in silence, a butterfly flew around us and landed right on his grave. We knew right there that this was his sign and he would always be with us. He was telling us it was okay and he was okay. As we drove home I felt sad but at the same time some relief that the funeral and burial was over with.

We returned back to our house and were greeted by family members which helped get our minds off things for a little while. As we told everyone about the butterfly at Camron’s grave, we were made aware that at the Church, our Priest had made a reference about butterflies in connection to what had happened to Camron. Since the Church was a blur after the first few minutes I didn’t hear this, but again, I took that as a sign that he was letting us know he would always be with us. I was never very religious or spiritual growing up. I was more of an agnostic if anything. How could anyone believe in something that you can’t see or even know exists? But now how can I be this way if I want to, and need to, believe Camron is in this wonderful place called Heaven. I had to believe in an afterlife or what would be the meaning of all of this? I had to believe Camron was in a better place being loved and watched over by family members that had already passed. I began reading books and listening to podcasts to learn and grow my faith. It took years but I do believe Camron is with God and in Heaven and that I will in fact be reunited with him one day. And oh, how I cannot wait to hold him in my arms again.

A few weeks after Camron passed, Nicole, the kids, and I travelled up to my sister Shana’s house in Connecticut for my niece’s 1st birthday party. As I was in the beginning stages of my grief, I really wasn’t looking forward to going but I knew how much our children loved to see their cousins. When we arrived, I was unprepared for how many people they had invited including family and friends. There were so many children and some of my sister’s friends had newborn babies. I felt many eyes on us as most knew what had happened only a few weeks before and I saw the sorrow on their faces. We made our way through the party making small talk. Nicole was much better than I was at this. Eventually, I needed a break so my brother Jake and I walked to the front of the house to smoke a cigar. As I stood there smoking, a butterfly came out of nowhere and started flying around us. This beautiful blue and purple butterfly circled me a few times and then landed on my left leg and stayed there for a while. At this point my brother hadn’t heard the butterfly story from the cemetery and he didn’t hear our Priest make mention of butterflies. After the butterfly flew away, my brother turned to me and said “That was weird.” I filled him in on how I believed that was Camron’s sign. I wondered was this another sign from God? Did he send Camron to me that day because He knew being at that party was hard on me and He wanted to comfort me to say it was okay and that Camron’s soul was alive and well?” I do believe this was another glimpse of God being with you during those difficult times, and reminding us that we will get through the dark times together.

As the days and weeks went by we continued receiving sympathy gifts, cards, and texts. I had to take all of my vacation days up front from work as the insurance company cut me off from paid family leave the day Camron passed and society and the corporate world believe a person who loses a child needs only 3 days to grieve. Mostly everyone felt bad but only a few made a real effort to reach out and ask to help in any way they could. After a few weeks the texts were becoming less and less frequent meanwhile our pain was still there and our grief was getting worse. We were able to put our trust in a few people that really made an effort and knew what we were going through. Some family members would reach out to us every month on the anniversary of Camron’s birth and death. They made us feel at least some were still remembering Camron’s life, no matter how short. Our wonderful neighbors, Melissa and Doug, were also there and knew our pain as they too just lost a baby through miscarriage. We were able to talk to them about how we felt, the story of Camron’s life, and the pain of everything. Flowers were sent to us on the 24th of each month for a whole year by our cousins, Katie and Nick, in remembrance of Camron’s birth which we were so grateful for.

As the month’s passed and we went back to work we started to realize that most of our family, friends, and co-workers began acting as if nothing ever happened. Most wouldn’t ask us how we were doing anymore or say Camron’s name. We understood people were like this because they didn’t know what to say or didn’t want to make us feel bad but what they didn’t realize was we very much wanted to speak about him. There is information online about bereaved parents and how to help/what to say but it seemed to us like no one really cared enough to try to learn. This made us lose contact with many people, including close friends, and feel resentment to our family members. Each day presented new challenges. The little things that used to matter to us, the everyday concerns, wondering what people thought of us, or problems at work just didn’t seem to matter anymore. All material things seemed meaningless. I was tired. I was angry. I was hurting. I was living on autopilot and wondered what was the point of anything in this life.

With each passing month after Camron’s death, I felt like I wasn’t getting better. If anything, my grief was getting worse and worse. Nicole was worried about my overall attitude and well-being and there were moments I would even scare myself. I never mentioned this to anyone, but thoughts of suicide would come into my mind. Each time it did, I pushed myself to remember Nicole and the kids and how I couldn’t leave them behind even though I missed Camron dearly. I was a husband, a father, and they needed me to be there for them through this hard and dark time. I decided to see a doctor for help. He started me on medications to help my mood and recommended me seeing a therapist in which I agreed to. I began seeing a therapist to speak about how I was feeling, about my grief, and about all the grudges I was holding on friends and family. For the months I saw my therapist it helped me see things and myself in a different way. She recommended writing down my feelings which is when I began to write this story of Camron’s life. I didn’t want to forget anything about him and the time I got to spend with him, no matter how painful. In the end, it wasn’t my therapist that helped me through my darkest of days, but it was my wife, Nicole. She was there through it all and I was able to open up to her like never before. I told her my secrets, my problems, and my feelings and she did the same with me. Our bond got closer, our relationship got stronger, and our love carried us through it all.

Each holiday leading up to the 1-year anniversary of Camron’s birth and death would be difficult as it was a reminder that it would have been his first and that he would never get to experience it. Although we were hurting, we celebrated each holiday with a smile for our other 2 children. On the 1-year anniversary of his birth we again received many texts from those who we hadn’t heard from all year. Nicole and I spent hours at the cemetery feeling lost and wondering how our life would have been if he had lived. The 1-year anniversary of his death hit me even harder. Again, we went to the cemetery. I was there first as we had to take separate cars, and I started to think about his story and what had happened and everything we had went through the past year. It was too much for me remembering how I felt that day a year earlier and it brought me to my knees, as I broke down crying at his grave.

I read once that grief is like a box with a ball inside it. You are the box and pain is the ball. When you lose someone you lovethat ball (the pain) is the biggest it will ever be and touches all sides of that box (you) constantly. When the ball touches a part of the box you will feel pain. As time goes on, that ball gets smaller but it never truly goes away. You will feel happiness again but every once in a while, that ball will hit a side of that box and you will feel that pain again like it was yesterday. Grief never ends. Grief is an extension of the love that we have for those we have lost. As long as we love them is as long as we’re going to grieve them.

After that day things started to seem a bit easier to deal with and I started even feeling less anger and more joy again. I knew I would never get over this grief, but I decided to move forward in life with it. Friedrich Nietzche once said “He who has a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW.” I survived through these years because Camron showed me my “Why”. He made me realize that I have the power to help others and be a resource for those who have no one else to turn to. He gave me purpose to be better and to do better in life. To this day I try not to hold grudges and forgive those family members and friends that never reached out to us. I know things may never be the same between us, more because I have become a different person since Camron passed. I see things differently and try to live a life of meaning. I am more compassionate, I am a better father, and I am a better husband. My relationship with Nicole has never been better. We went though the worst thing that can ever happen to a person, a couple, and a family and we came out of it stronger. We were buried in grief but little by little, through it all, we dug ourselves out, together. Camron was with us for 3 short weeks but he changed my life and taught me what it is to be a better man. He taught me unconditional love, he taught me forgiveness, he taught me empathy, and he taught me faith. He brought out the spirituality in me and made me see that there is a God, He is with you in your darkest of times, and He gives you the strength to carry forward. My Angel up in Heaven blessed us with a 4th child, a baby boy, Leo William, born in March of 2023. It was Nicole’s smoothest pregnancy and I know Camron was with us the whole time, watching over his mother and little brother, and handpicked Leo to live here with us, his brother, and his sister. Dr. Bernasko was right after all. The birth and death of Camron wasn’t the end of our story…it was just the beginning of a new one.

Until the day I am reunited with Camron up in Heaven, I will continue each day to say good morning and goodnight to him and speak to him when I miss him the most. I will live the life that I know he would want me to and help others in need. I will speak his name and spread the love and compassion he provided me to others. And when I see a butterfly flying or the moon shining bright I will know he is still here with me.

To my son Camron, I will love you forever, to the moon and back, and I will never forget you. You will always be my little boy and I cherished those 3 short weeks I got to spend with you.

Until we meet again…, dad.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”- Ernest Hemingway