I feel deeply…My heart is broken. I know though that I do not walk this lonely road alone. My family, other families, and so many others live with the pain of losing someone close to them.
Lately in this world it has been many people right now facing tragedies. So many of these losses are close to home in neighboring communities and towns. Missing children and other tragedies where people have just left without any explanation at all. The ones left behind left with so many questions.
I am sharing my story in the recent loss of my young sister Kayla Bird who passed away on February 24 in Winnipeg. Our Kayla left us so fast that we had no time to really process what was going on. She got very sick very fast. One minute she was enjoying her life with the love of her life. Thinking she would return to her 3 beautiful daughters. She was only 25 a young hardworking mother. Then that Sunday on February 15 she started getting sick throwing up. She was taken by emergency helicopter from the community of Pauingassi where she made her life with her partner and children on February 16. This is the day that changed our whole family’s lives forever.
Nothing we could have done would have stopped this sickness. It was the flu compacted with double pneumonia that took her from all of us. The way they explained it to us that day on February 24th. We all sat around that table scared and heartbroken. Even before Dr. Smith and the rest of the medical team all came in the room we all knew. Our parents kept us girls close that day. They wanted us their beside them and they wanted us girls, Mikey and his parents to hear everything they had to say and have our questions answered. As we sat around the table in the MICU meeting room I couldn’t even lift my head when they spoke. They told us in detail what had happened to her beautiful little body. They didn’t understand why she got sick like this. They said it shouldn’t have happened but it did. There was nothing left to do but to take our sweet sister off life support. My sisters were crying and here I am trying to be the strong one the oldest sister. Just felt like a dream. Like my legs were like rubber walking into Kayla’s room with all the family.
This is the most heartbreaking experience I have ever felt and I know everyone in that room all felt the exact same way as me. We prayed with her and we spoke our words of love to her before they started shutting off all the machines. Its the most fucking helpless feeling in the world.Wanting to hold my whole family together but I couldn’t even stand up. We just sat there silently weeping trying to hold it together then the nurse checks her heartbeat. She’s gone.Was this really happening? Were we really sitting here together? Fuck all the things going through my head. I don’t know how we held it together so good but we did. I just don’t know how we even made it through those days.
On the days before Kayla was brought home to Black River for services my Cyrus’s sickness had gotten worse. Chris took him to Pine Falls on February 16th for a Doctors appointment. I sent in Chris alone with Cyrus that day thinking that if they gave me medications and checked him out good that I would be able to make him better at home. I thought I would be able to help with my sister’s wake and funeral and I thought I knew I could make him better. But less then a few hours later I was at Pine Falls emergency arguing with the Doctors and nurses. Trying to get him to Children’s because of how much distress he was in. Plus they did not know how to care for a child. They should have sent him off right away instead of trying to treat him.I was mad at this point like why now baby? Why is this happening? Plus I felt like the most awful mom in the world for not seeing how badly my son had gotten sick and I blamed myself. I was trying to help prepare for my sister’s wake and I thought I was doing a good job of taking care of my baby. Little did I know what battle God the Creator had laid ahead of me.
That night we got to the Children’s ER he had gotten so bad that he was in major distress in his lungs. They had to take him the resuscitation room to try get his oxygen levels and breathing back to normal which took long to get under control. We were finally transferred to PICU where there were other sick babies with flu like symtoms. The first few days in PICU were some of the hardest days of my life. My body was in so much pain. I was still in shock about losing my sister. Now I was wondering what in the hell was going in our lives.
I stood by my baby while he fought RSV, Corona Virus and pneumonia in both his little lungs. He was on CPAP machines for a week which was spent in PICU. During this time I was a total mess and I drifted day to day with no energy at all. I was scared that I was going to experience losing my son and my sister at the same time. I became very angry with God at this time. I started questioning my faith. I asked Him why are you doing this to me at this time. Why do I have to lose my sister and have my son very sick at the same time struggling to breathe. It took a good slap in the face from my aunt Sue to set me straight and bring me back up from the drowning waters. After this day I started to fight again to stay afloat with my husband and our sons. To stand strong in this storm in my life even if my heart was broken from losing Kayla.
I made the decision on February 29th to miss her funeral. At this time Cyrus was not yet stable enough for me to leave him. How could I leave my little sunshine when he needed his mommy the most. I stayed with him all that day crying when we were alone and given some privacy. I could not get my parents, my nieces, my nephews, my sisters, Mikey and his parents or Kayla out of my mind that day. I tried hard not to think of it as being torn or ripped apart but it was.
I am so grateful that during this time my husband was able to get a hotel room at a discount from the Ronald McDonald house at the Canad Inns HSC the first 3 nights. I took a few breaks here during the first few days. Then on February 29th the day of the funeral Ronald McDonald house had a room available for us. Chris kept our oldest boy with him during this time. Walking back and forth from the house to the hospital once in awhile trading places with me so I could have a break. Staying there during the time Cyrus was in hospital was such a relief in our lives. We were not financially ready for a crisis like this in our lives. The caring staff and house family made our stay comfortable and feel like we had a home.
Cyrus was released on March 8th after a hard sickness of RSV, Corona Virus, pneumonia and a bone marrow biopsy that hurt his hip and bad back because of a cancer scare. We were only allowed full discharge because we had to take him to 3 medical appointments before we left Winnipeg. So we went home to the Ronald McDonald house with our Cyrus and our family was whole once again. Christopher’s birthday was that Saturday on March 12th. We were trying to figure out a way to hold our oldest son’s 5th birthday and Cyrus’s last 2 appointments were on that Friday. We had no money to throw our son the birthday he deserved and we wanted to have something good for our son after him experiencing so much at such a tender age. That is when Wendy one of the Ronald McDonald house employee’s stepped in and took charge of his birthday. We were just going to try put a couple snack trays and cake but she went above and beyond her job. They threw Christopher one of the best birthdays ever. Complete with a Transformers Cake, balloons, awesome food and the company of Ronald McDonald himself. It just all fell into place and we felt like we won the lottery. They helped us in a time of complete chaos in our lives.
They gave me a place to quietly mourn my sister. A place where I could be a mom and just sit around with my family. They also gave me space when I needed to process all the stuff going on in my life and I will always be forever grateful for all the years of my life to these people of the Ronald McDonald house of Winnipeg.
We returned home on March 11th late in the evening from the Ronald McDonald house. I was scared at that point to return home. I knew once I got home it was all going to hit me. Everything that I had been through and the loss of my sister. Its been a month and 6 days since we lost my sister. Its not getting any easier right now. My nieces, Mikey, our parents, my sisters and her in laws are all grieving. We have all been keeping close together and staying in touch as best as we can. We have found comfort in one another and I am glad that we can talk, cry, laugh and remember Kayla.
I also know that we are not the only family grieving in this sad world. There was another person that died at St. Boniface just a few days before Kayla from the flu. He was also a young man but we know only that of him. There were 3 deaths in my community and countless others in neighboring communities. There were tragedies all over the news of young people going missing and being found dead. I felt the hurt that these families were going through. I know my family and all these families share the heartbreak of losing a loved one.
This is just my story about the loss of my sister and my journey with my family through my son’s sickness. I was to share to show that no matter what happens in our lives even when there is complete chaos you can come out the other end stronger then you were before. A new person that can get through the storms of life. And that we are not all really alone in our grief. There are many that walk this lonely road and try to take comfort knowing there are others that feel the same heartbreak you feel on a daily basis. God Bless.