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A Mother’s Love

Have you ever watched a movie where a child died? Or saw it on the news– with a clip of the devastated mother or other family members? Or even had a friend or an acquaintance that lost a child?  And you let your brain go to that place where you actually thought how you would react or feel if that were you and your child was suddenly gone?  And you thought, “Oh my gosh, I would not survive it, I’d curl up in a ball and stay there forever…they’d have to put me in a mental hospital…” But then you just had to shift your brain to something else because it was far too much to bear or to even think about so you said a quick prayer for this other family and also a prayer of thanksgiving to our Lord for your healthy, living children.  Secretly, you were so glad it was them and not you.  I mean God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, right? And you know you couldn’t bear that so you had a false confidence that it would never happen to you. I was that person and yes, it hurts just as bad as you imagined it would and I would not have ever thought I was strong enough to continue living without one of my children and, honestly, without God and my husband and my living sons, and other close family and friends, I still truly think I would not have survived.

There is nothing stronger than a mother’s love. The truth is I would pray that God would just stop my heart.  As a mom, we are the ones that are supposed to take care of our children.  My faith told me that Drew was okay- that he was in Heaven and he was happy, all of his needs were being met, but I just kept fighting that overwhelming feeling that Drew needed ME, his mom, and I wanted to be there for him.  Brewer and Zack were adults now (just barely- they were 21 and 19) and I felt like Drew needed me the most.  (The truth is Brewer and Zack were the ones who needed me; Drew was fine- just in Heaven, not on earth anymore.)  He was gone so suddenly that I wasn’t even able to talk to him to try to prepare him for Heaven.  I was stricken with this panicky feeling again and again.  The best way I can describe it is if you have ever briefly “lost” your child in a store and you had that sudden rise of panic build up. My brain would unrealistically send out this “Where is Drew?  He needs you!” signal.   I felt that a lot- particularly at the dinner hour and at bed time.  I would pray and God would listen and He would hold me and comfort me.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend, another mom, shortly before Drew went to Heaven.  I was telling her that I thought God may have given me too much of that mothering gene because it was so difficult for me when my child was suffering.  I have a lot of empathy for everyone, but when it comes to my kids, it felt almost like it was a disability sometimes.  Whatever the struggle was, it seems like I felt it ten-fold, even minor things like when they were up at bat in a baseball game.  My weakness as a mom was probably the tough love part and I was very aware of that. As an educator, however, I definitely understood the importance of holding your children accountable for their actions.  My boys hung the moon in my opinion and I literally would do anything for them and still would.  I argued a lot with God in 2013 and part of that was, “Why did you make me like this and then take Drew away from me?”  Another part was, “Why did you make Drew so perfect, so kind, so handsome, so athletic, so funny and such a leader with so much potential for a wonderful life and then take him to Heaven when he was just beginning to show the world what kind of man he was going to be— he was ONLY 13 YEARS OLD?”  I actually would say to God in my prayers, “I strongly disagree with Your decision.”

My friend told me a story of surviving children from the Holocaust after the war.  They could not sleep.  One of their worries was that they would be hungry in the morning, that there would be no food, so the nuns would place a piece of bread in their hands at bed time and this would comfort them so they could sleep.  She suggested I sleep with something of Drew’s in my hand so I selected one of his favorite cotton shirts.  It worked.  I still sleep with his shirt and it comforts me.

Living without Drew is hard—every single day.  We think about him and connect our experiences to him or what happened to him every day.  I cry every day.  It’s just the way it is.  It’s just the way God made me.  I think it helps me, though.  I read an article recently about a study done on tears.  It showed how differently tears of grief look under a microscope when compared to other types of tears. They were a little scary looking with rigid lines and lots of empty space.  I related instantly to the picture.  The article also spoke to the chemical make- up of these types of tears.  “Emotional tears, for instance, have been found to contain protein-based hormones including the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller that is released when the body is under stress.” ( This makes me think that God made my tears of grief actually comfort me.  Since I cry every day, God comforts me every day.

Our Do It for Drew Foundation is crucial.  I wouldn’t wish what happened to Drew and subsequently our family on my worst enemy.  It shouldn’t have happened and it doesn’t have to happen to anyone else.  Please help us spread the message of our foundation.  If medical professionals see our son’s face when they are getting their training or continuing education in intubating patients, my hope is that they will connect their education to a real person and a real family and that this will be the thing that helps them remember the steps to ensure that tube placement is verified and steps are taken immediately if the tube is not in the right position.

God bless you and thank you for reading my story.
Kimberly Hughes

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