Errol Milner Clifford 2006-2009

Errol Milner Clifford was born with a significant heart defect and a cognitive disability that prevented him from walking or talking. As we grieved the child we had anticipated, Errol’s full-bodied smile and irrepressible laugh turned our sorrow into joy, and taught us that many of the best things in life are unexpected. Inspired by Errol’s delightful spirit, friends, family, and neighbors rallied to support our family’s significant emotional, physical, and financial needs, through countless acts of selfless generosity. When Errol’s courageous heart finally failed him on December 23, 2009 we were left numb with grief. In these dark hours we listen hopefully for the echoes of Errol’s brilliant laugh. This blog is the story (starting from present and working back to Errol's birth) of the life and times of the amazing Errol Clifford.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Errol is in our thoughts all the time.

One night at dinner Owen suddenly smiled and said, “Errol is on your shoulders mama. He’s nibbling your food.”

“Hi, Errol.” Cary said gamely, turning towards her shoulder.

“Mama,” said Owen, “Now Errol is in your arms.”

Cary cradled her sweet boy in her arms while Owen looked on, his eyes smiling. Sometimes just going through the familiar motions of Errol, holding, lifting, laying down bring floods of joy and sorrow. “And he’s grabbing your hair.” Said Owen.

“Now I’m holding him, Mama.” And Owen rocked his brother in his arms. Then Owen pointed to me. “He’s on your shoulders Daddy.”

“Hi, Errol.” I replied, waving and smiling. And to explain my tears I said, “Ouch, he’s pulling my hair!” - which was Errol’s favorite game, after all.

And as suddenly as it started, Owen sang out. “Now Errol is the wind.” And that was the end of the visitation that Owen had conjured.

A few minutes later we finished dinner and went into Owen and Errol’s bedroom. I know Owen must feel lonely up in the top of his bunk bed with no one below to share his big room, but his pet chickens.

We read a children’s book about death called I Miss You and when we asked Owen how he was feeling he said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.” I told him that we didn’t know either (not reassuring perhaps, but true) but that we thought things were going to get better (which they do, until they don’t) and that he was going to feel better. And he is feeling better, these days. And we know that Owen misses Errol as much as he loved him (which is a lot) and that Errol will help Owen to grow up to be a very strong and loving man. But for now it’s heartbreaking to watch a little boy's heart break.