“He was my little man from the day he was born to the day he died.”
This is Vennie describing her son, Orion, who drowned.
I never thought that I would lose him. I never thought I would lose him.
September 8th ’01, I found out I was pregnant and I did 4 tests, I was like false, false, no, no, no. Because I was flipping out, we hadn’t been together very long, I didn’t know if he was going to stay. I was a great aunt, I was a great babysitter. But being a mom and being a babysitter… that is two different worlds, it is so different.
[Vennie asked me to make a note after I had posted this, regarding Steve, Orion’s father; “I didn’t know if he would stay, but he did, and he was the most perfect, best, wonderful daddy ever. When you think of a perfect dad, Steve was it!”]
And it really hit me that I wanted this baby and I was ready for this baby when I started having these terrible stomach pains and cramps. I thought I was going to lose the baby, the doctor said that if I didn’t lower my stress and get off my feet I was going to lose the baby. So I told the cafe that I can’t work, I’m going to lose this baby if I do. I can’t be a waitress.
I moved up to Loveland and it was peaceful and serene. Being pregnant was the complete opposite of my life and I loved it. I loved knowing that this little baby inside of me was growing and we found out right before Christmas that it was a little boy. My job was to eat healthy and walk everyday.
Three weeks after his due date, three weeks later! The whole thing, I’m ready let’s go to the hospital. I remember the total chaos of people, the nurses talking about what I need is my temperature and my blood pressure, is the baby, is the baby doing okay, and the doctors talking.
So when they took the machines off him and he was on my chest, I felt that this relief. He fell asleep, I feel asleep with him, right away, I just remember being so calm and so at peace with that moment.
One of his favorite things to do was to take apart toys and make what he called “my creations”. “There my creations, mama! I don’t need to follow the box, they are my creations! You told me to use my mind and I am.” He always took and made it his own toy, his own thing.
When Orion was in Kindergarten they were doing a project that the teacher was trying to give a lesson on giving around Christmas. They were talking about some families don’t have a lot, go home and ask your mom and dad for some cans of food. We made a little box up and gave it to the school.
On christmas, he is opening all of his presents, there was one not opened, and he looked at me and said “I’m not going to open this.” I said, “But you don’t even know what is in there.” He says, “I don’t care, there is a kid who needs it more than me”… That was Orion’s spirit. That was just who he was. Orion was different.
The day before my brother died he goes “Uncle Joe is not going to be okay, Uncle JoJo is just not okay” I said “It’s okay, he’s back, you know, he’s back from the war, he’s fine, you don’t have to worry about him anymore.” I thought he was worried because obviously when you come back from war your stressed you are not exactly on keel. And then the next day Joe died and it was just, he was a special kid.
It is all in retrospect, it is all in guilt that I look back think that I should have paid more attention to that, I should have done more with that.
About a week after that I moved into a new apartment.
I was putting the apartment together, I was doing laundry, and I thought he was by the front door and one second I could see him, and then the next I couldn’t. I went looking all over the whole complex, running and screaming and balling and I was so frantic and panicked to find him that I was trying to walk and I kept falling down. My knees were dirty. Yelling at the top of my lungs, thinking in my head what punishment this little boy is going to get for not listening.
And then the true panic set in that he has been gone for 15 minutes now. What happened? Did someone open the gate and is he walking down the street? What happened to him? Did someone come in, did someone take him? Through that was when the police got called. The more police showed up, then more police showed up. Then the news showed up. From there they interviewed one of the policemen for an Amber Alert. And that is when I hit my knees and just flipped out, oh my God.
At sunset they called the dive team in. Someone said “Oh, it is just procedure, there is water we got to.” I’m looking out at the pond and I see one of the dive team, he falls underneath the water and that is when the police and the chaos just got numbing to my ears. There was so much noise and so many people. They got some sort of thing out their car and dove in the pond and came out with Orion. And he was lifeless and the diver fell, he fell with my son.
I got drove to the Children’s Hospital and they were working on him, they were you know the ER scene working on him. And they looked at me and said “It’s to late… he was under the water to long.” And my life, my life stopped. I threw up. And they stopped. I was, he was so cold, just his skin was blue and cold.
I just didn’t care. And it took a really long time to even focus on anything. People told me to eat, people told me to sleep, people were in and out of the house, and there was flowers and I just, I didn’t feel anything. I was done. It was the weirdest feeling to go through life and not feel people and not look at people. Because nothing I ate tasted, nothing I drank tasted. For awhile no matter much I drunk, I couldn’t get drunk.
My whole purpose in life, my savior, the little boy who saved me was gone, my life was gone and I just didn’t care. One of the hardest things after he died; I’d be in the kitchen and I’d pull open the oven, “be careful your gonna get…” and I’d stop myself, because he is not there to get burned. He is not right behind me. I’d be in the front room and here the fridge open and say “what are you getting…” and he is not there. It was just an old fridge and it would creak. I’d step on a toy and say “You need to pick up your…” and he is not there to pick up his toys. He is not there to get burned by the oven or to get a snack by himself.
I was broke, I was bad, I was bottom, I was losing the weight, I was a skeleton, I was broke. I really had a choice to, and I don’t even know where it came from, but I had this thought that I could go on killing myself with the drinking and the partying, but not really killing myself. Or I could go on and find a damn purpose in his death, I could go on and help another kid, I could find some amazing purpose in my life or I could end it.
I live life almost on mute still, but what I can hear, and what I can feel now is ten times fold, like it is more amazing than it was before. It almost like I am waking up, I’m really living now.
In my quiet times, when I hear the leaves actually blowing, when I can hear my dog actually breathing, in times like that I go outside and I’ll smoke a cigarette and Orion’s constellation is in the sky, especially this time of year in the winter, and I have a little peace knowing that he doesn’t have to go through this world and have awful things happen to him. He got to go to heaven and be with my dad and his Uncle JoJo, he died happy, he died young and he never had to really know, he didn’t have to know any really horrible things. He died innocent.
I don’t have a good day anymore. I have good moments, but I don’t have a full day that is good. Even yet, even two years later. I wake up and I know at some point today, wether I think about him by myself or wether something on the news–commercials trigger me–a memory flashback will trigger me, but at some point today my day will not be happy and I will remember that he is gone. But the good moments are getting longer, but I don’t, I still have not had a good day.
He breaks my heart, I miss him so much.
Losing Something by Jody Stephens is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.