Declan – 2 yrs 9 months

On the 4th of April, 2005 Declan was born in Hanover, Germany. He was the most gorgeous boy right from the start and he made us smile every day. Because my sister died of cot death on the 14th of January, 1986, I was very careful with Declan. I made sure that he was sleeping on his back, that he was not too warm, not too cold and nobody was allowed to smoke in the house.

In October, 2006, when Declan was about 18 months old, my husband, two sons and I moved to England and Declan settled into our new house quickly. He loved his new nursery; he loved entertaining the other children; and he enjoyed cuddles with the staff. He grew into a right little character and didn’t like people being sad. He loved Fireman Sam, Rory the Racing Car, and Handy Manny. He had a good laugh winding up his big brother Aidan (6 years old) but always asked if he was “ok.” Declan walked around with his play tools “fixing” everything. He was very close to his Dad and cuddled into him whenever he could, saying, “I love you, too” quite often, like he could read his Dad’s mind.

In December, 2007, we moved back “home” to Scotland, to settle for good. Declan had wanted a bike for a long time. When he got one on Christmas morning, he was so happy. We couldn’t get him off of it for days.

One evening about a week before Declan died, it started to snow. We all dressed up warm and went out with the sledge. He had so much fun trying to make snowballs and trying to throw them as far as he could.

On the evening of January 12, 2008, Declan became sick so my husband and I took him into bed with us to make sure he was ok. The next day, he seemed much better, but he did not eat much and he was very sleepy. We weren’t too worried because we thought that he was sleeping the bug off and he didn’t have a temperature or rash. That evening we all sat down together and watched “Flushed Away.” How Declan loved all the little rats and he laughed at the right bits in the movie! When we all woke up on Monday morning, January 14th, Declan was much better. He ate all of his breakfast and he started running after me for more yogurt and juice. Around 10am Declan got very tired. I felt like something was wrong so we made an appointment with the doctor. The doctor checked Declan over and couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with him. He did see that he wasn’t well and sent us to the hospital with him straight away. We went out to the car. I sat in the back seat with Declan in my arms. Before we made it out of the car park, Declan stopped breathing.

He was transported by ambulance to the hospital. When we ran into the A&E (emergency room) and I saw the number of doctors waiting, it made it even more clear how bad everything was. They tried for so long. At 3pm the doctor turned to me with tears in his eyes and shook his head. I remember Rab shouting “No-o-o” and me hitting the floor as a nurse tried to catch me.

We sat in the room with Declan for three hours. I sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as I cradled him. It was his favourite nursery rhyme. I told him that I will always love him. I can hardly remember the days afterwards, but I do remember the phone call after the post mortem and the news that there was nothing wrong with him.

The days and weeks after are still a big blur. I got in touch with the Scottish Cot Death Trust a few weeks later because I couldn’t understand how this could happen to my nearly 3 year old son. Their support worker, came around and started taking care of us and explaining some things. They also told me about the SUDC Program in the USA and explained that we are not the only parents in the UK who have lost a toddler to sudden unexplained death in childhood.

On the 4th of April, what would have been Declan’s 3rd birthday, we all went to the cemetery and everybody let 3 balloons go in his memory.

Declan is with me all the time. There is not a moment I don’t think of him or carry his love in my heart. I am now able to smile again when thinking of him. In his short life, Declan taught us that smiling, having fun, and giving love is the most important thing in life. I feel proud to call him my son and I am forever thankful for the time we had him with us.