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, September 15, 2010


Owen speaks of Errol in the present tense. “Errol loves butterflies,” he says as we walk around The Children’s Center, where our boys once went to school together. When Errol died, his teachers erected a birdhouse in the school garden as a memorial. The garden is planted in raised beds separated by a smooth path so anyone in a walker or with crutches or in a wheelchair can get right in the garden and reach up and touch the poppies, hear the butterflies, smell the coreopsis.

Here, at the end of summer, perched above the riotous flowers and buzzing insects is Errol’s fanciful copper roofed birdhouse. Errol would have loved it all.

Owen learned to ride his bike today. He went from not being able to ride to riding in about fifteen minutes. But what a fifteen minutes they were. There was a moment, as I ran alongside Owen, gripping his bike seat, as he wobbled from side to side, that I thought he would tip over. And it was there at the height of my terror that Owen suddenly reached his balance and I immediately let go (or he broke free), and just like that, Owen was riding his bike. He was gone.

As Owen rode down the parking lot, my huge grin vanished and tears welled in my eyes. Errol never got to ride off into the blue wondering how the hell he was going to stop this crazy metal contraption.

I never let go of Errol until it was too late.

Owen On His Own