I distinctly remember the joyful rush that morning getting ready to leave for school. Everything was going much smoother than normal. We were right on time and mommy had her sonogram that day, so that meant more pictures of my adorable little brother.
I had always wanted a brother. My 6 year old sister was fun and all, but brothers were different. They meant playing sports and play fighting and toy cars - all of which were new to me. I also loved the idea of having a protector. When I was being bullied, I always imagined having a brother come save me and beat the snot out of them.
I guess you can imagine my excitement when I found out I would be getting a younger brother. I was overjoyed! I always looked forward to days like these where mom and dad would bring home more pictures for me to adore. The last sonogram, I'd gotten a picture of him that said, "Hayley's baby Brother."
In the middle of class, my teacher got a phone call. "Hayley, your grandfather is here to pick you up," she said to me, expressionless. You can imagine my confusion as I walked down the stairs. It was a normal day. Mom was supposed to pick me up.
On the car ride home, I kept asking my grandfather, Papa, if something was wrong. I could tell by his forced smile and unsettlingly calm demeanor that it was something awful.
"Is someone in the hospital?" I asked him.
"Is Gigi okay?"
"Is mommy okay?"
"Is mommy's baby?"
"Just talk to your mother when you get home," he finally replied nervously.
Everything after that is a blur. A sad, teary, intense blur. I remember my worst fear being confirmed. He was gone. I remember sitting on my mom's bed, digging my fingernails into my arm and then running into my room.
I do have distinct memories of the pain. I am usually a very open book emotionally, but that day, nobody was allowed to see me. I cried so hard, I couldn't breathe. I screamed so loud, my voice was raspy.
My perfect, innocent, baby brother was already taken from this world before we'd even gotten a chance to meet him. It wasn't fair. The future, the life he could have had, all gone.
My most profound memory from this time is my mom, however. I watched a part of her leave that day. Don't take me wrong. She was every bit of the strong, caring, beautiful mother she was before, but she began to stay at home more. She didn't eat as much. Her bright, glowing smile became just a smile. I watched her heart break and it was plain to anyone who knew her.
One thing I've noticed of late, however, is that I've begun to see her sparkle return. As she's starting writing about Matthew she's begun to open up to other people. She's become social again and to see that difference has been amazing. I think her speaking his name and telling his story has made him real again.