We have been so fortunate to experience so much love and support since losing Harrison.  So many friends, family members, and even strangers have been kind enough to help hold us up during our weak moments.  We have experienced grace, kindness, support, generosity, and love from so many.  I can’t express our gratitude enough. 

Even with an huge amount of help and love, walking through this grief journey often feels isolating.  In the first few days after Harrison’s  passing, it seemed my husband and I were circled with love from others while on an emotional island that very few people can understand.  

I have read all about the stages of grief.  I believe I did so in hopes I would find a light at the end of the tunnel.  Some sort of understanding of what I’m feeling, how long I will feeling it, and when will it be bearable?  But the books always talk about these seemingly linear stages.  And that was not what I was experiencing.  It seemed no one really understands what I am  experiencing. Nothing takes the pain away.   Our situation is unique  compared to the textbooks.  I felt alone walking uncharted waters.

Days after losing Harrison, while I was on my self absorbed personal journey, I remember my mother said something about her grief.  I am embarrassed my first thought was… “Your grief! I’m the one who lost my child!”  But I paused and looked around at my house full of people supporting us and realized EVERYONE around me was also grieving. When Harrison passed it wasn’t just a loss for Jason and I.  Other people lost a grandson, a nephew, a cousin,  and a neighbor.

My father-in-law started attending a men’s group to work through his grief.  The leader of the group ask Tony to write out his story to share.  A few days ago Tony shared his story of Harrison’s loss with us.  It is a hard story to read.  But it allows me to understand Tony’s grief. I appreciate Tony sharing his story with us.  It makes me feel less isolated understanding Tony’s experience with grief.

Today, Tony is allowing us to share his world with you all.  Perhaps there is someone out there experiencing there own grief that will feel less isolated hearing this story.

 This is what Harrison’s Grandpa Tony experienced on June 5th 2015.

“On June 5, 2015 about 3pm, I am driving on I-70 nearly to downtown Kansas City just 15 miles from my son’s home in Lees Summit. I am driving my daughter Elizabeth and her daughter Fiona, who is 6, to meet Harrison Anthony Herold, their 4 month old nephew and cousin that neither had yet to meet. My phone rang and my youngest son Jason was on the phone, very upset, and telling me that his son “Harry” was at daycare and they couldn’t get him to respond after a nap. Jason was going to the Emergency Room and they were rushing Harry there also.

My daughter-in-law Darcy was working from home and on a 3 way conference call and they could not reach her. After about 10 minutes , when I had heard nothing more, I recalled Jason and asked him what was going on. He said that “Harry did not make it. They could not revive him. He was dead.” Jason wanted to leave the ER to go get Bennett their 2 year old who was also at the same daycare. This day, it was only Bennett and Harrison at the daycare home. Bennett saw and experienced everything, policemen, paramedics, and firemen who came to the 911 call and subsequently took his brother “Harry” away from him.

I told Jason we would go get Bennett. When we arrived at the daycare home there were 4 police cars. Bennett was standing off to the side completely forgotten about. His clothing was soaked with pee and he had seen it all. Firemen had carried Harry away and Bennett would never see him again. The police checked my ID and we took Bennett to the emergency room.

We all ran crying into the ER carrying Bennett and we went to the desk to say we were here for “Harrison Herold.” We got blank stares until someone said. “Its the baby.” We were led to a small conference room. It seemed as if everyone in the ER waiting room were watching us as we cried and screamed and went to find our family.

Jason tried to comfort his son Bennett and actually our 6 year old Fiona did a better job than any of us at soothing Bennett. After some time Elizabeth and I went to the ER room where Darcy was holding Harry. Darcy was crying and kept saying, “I’m so sorry this has happened. I so hope you were not afraid. Where are you Harry?” My daughter Elizabeth went to Darcy’s side and they both caressed and held the baby who was cold and white. I left to return to the conference room with Fiona and Bennett and Jason.

Later the nurses came in and told them that they had to turn over the body to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Darcy would not lay “Harry” down on a cart but rather placed him in the arms of a crying nurse and instructed her to hold him until Darcy had left the room.

We had 3 cars at the Hospital. Darcy insisted on driving home alone. Elizabeth drove Fiona and Bennett home. Jason wanted me to drive him in his car. As we both got in the car, I felt overwhelmed with the reality that my son was feeling absolute despair and I could not help him or fix it for him.

Silently, we drove the back roads the 10 miles to their home. I felt so lost and helpless. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I reached over and held hands with my 39 year old son and we drove home to Hidden Valley Road. My heart and soul are completely shattered.”

– Anthony Herold, “Grandpa Tony”

While this story may be difficult to read, it is a reminder that one lost life in this world, no matter how small, will impact so many people!  Thank you again, for all the support and thank you for supporting others experiencing any personal loss.

Next Wednessday is the 28th once again!  Feel free to join us and share you acts of kindness.  If you need Harry’s Joy cards you can pick them up at any of the posted pick up locations.