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, June 23, 2010

Six Months

Today marks six months without our beloved Errol.
He brought such pure joy to the world.
He would have enjoyed this day, as he did all days.
Still, try as I might, I am filled with such sadness.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Three Little Pigs

Early in the morning, the students release the pigs into the school. It is April Fools Day, after all, and to make things more interesting the pigs are painted on their sides with the numbers 1, 2, and 4. It’s easy to imagine the administrators, on their walkie-talkies, roaming the school, sweating, out of breath, looking for number three and reporting to home base, “We’ve got one and two down in the physics lab, and four’s up here in the cafeteria, but we can’t find #3 anywhere.”

And here I am looking for Errol. It’s only been five months since we left him, and the other day someone said, “You must think of him every day.” And I think: Every day?!?! How ‘bout every hour, every minute, constantly! I am a glass of warm water and Errol is ice, and he has melted away-dissolved into me- and he makes me better and more than I was.

My senses are attuned to Errol: I see an automatic paper towel dispenser and there we are in the hospital, I hear bath water running and there he is, I smell sweet potatoes, and I am at the dinning room feeding Errol; but he is not really anywhere except within me, and I can look as long as the administrators look for number three, and I won’t find him out there. And I keep looking!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Good Night, Sleep Tight, Wake Up Bright In The Morning Light

Last night I put Owen to bed and said “Good night”
And his mother said, “Sleep tight.”
And Owen said, “Wake up bright in the morning light!”

Owen’s words joined with ours to make the song we sang Owen and Errol to bed to every night of Errol’s life.

Good Night
Sleep Tight
Wake Up Bright In The Morning Light

And he always did. And he always was our bright morning light.

When Errol lay dying in his mother’s arms, when there was no hope he would get better, when it was time for his suffering to end, we wanted to do whatever we could to help ease his passage out of life. We unplugged Errol from all the ventilators and machines that were keeping him alive, and then we turned off his oxygen. As his little breaths got shallower and shallower and the space between them got longer and longer we sang Errol the goodnight song to help him let go. To help end his suffering.

Through sobs and moans Cary and I sang, over and over again, “Good night, sleep tight, wake up bright in the morning light.” Errol slowly stopped breathing until he was gone.

We have not dared to sing this song or even say these words since then.
But last night, Owen was ready to sing this beautiful song.