Jaiden the Hero
Looking at Jaiden in the hospital bed that day in November, it didn’t look like anything was wrong with him. The only indication something was amiss was the gauze bandage on the side of his head. A couple hours earlier we were getting ready to leave for school when our lives were changed forever.
The doorbell rang and Jaiden went to answer the door. As soon as he opened the door he was shot at point blank range in his left temple. I saw my little boy’s eyes close, his body go limp and fall to the floor. I rushed to him screaming in despair and gathered him in my arms and held him close. I can remember screaming “my baby, my baby” over and over again. His brother, my oldest son, was on the phone with a 9-1-1 operator and began giving him chest compressions while I kept one hand over the hole where the bullet entered and my other hand on the back of his head still screaming for my little boy.
An hour or so later, I was no longer screaming but was staring at my little boy hooked up to machines and wires, still consumed by shock and disbelief. It was like I was outside of my body watching my baby lay in the hospital bed. He still had the same ten fingers and ten toes he had when he was born and he looked like he was sleeping. I had watched him sleep a million times – I had so much love for this little boy, there were times I would swoop him up while he was sleeping and hug him, whispering to him over and over again how much I loved him. I did this with my other two boys when they were little too. But this time it was different watching him sleep – he wasn’t waking up ever again. I still hugged him and whispered how much I loved him and began to think about the nine short years he had with us.
The first thing everyone says about Jaiden is how amazing his smile was. How happy he seemed all the time – his smile was contagious. He loved to laugh – and I loved hearing it. I would tickle him all the time just to hear his laugh. He was compassionate. When he saw someone on the side of the road holding a sign asking for money, he would start digging in my purse looking for change to give to them. I would give him book fair money for school and he would come home and tell me how he spent some of his money on a friend who didn’t have any and bought them an eraser or a bookmark.
Jaiden had a lot of friends and didn’t discriminate who he played with. At an age where a lot of kids break off into cliques, Jaiden was one of the few who didn’t.
He loved the computer, playing games and watching videos. He loved animals and would always ask if we could get puppy. I finally made a deal with him that after his older brothers graduated in a couple years and it was just the two of us, we would go to the shelter and get him a dog. Boy was he excited! He would tease his older brothers about how he was going to get a dog when they moved out and they teased him back by saying they were never moving out!
Speaking of his brothers, he idolized them. He always wanted to be around them, to dress like them, to be like them. He could be the little annoying little brother at times, nonetheless they couldn’t help but love him.
He had so much energy and imagination. He was always running in and out of the house playing and being a little boy.
A Hero of Donation
When the doctors explained that Jaiden’s injuries were not survivable, we immediately asked about the organ donation process. We knew J wouldn’t hesitate to help others – that’s who he was.
The representatives with Lifeline of Ohio were with us every step of the way. They were extremely patient, kind and answered every one of our questions – if they didn’t know an answer, they went and got it. As horrible as it was saying good bye to my baby it was comforting knowing that parts of him would continue living.
Organ donation is an anonymous process, but through a letter I received from Lifeline of Ohio, I learned Jaiden’s lungs were able to save the life of a nine-year old girl from Missouri. She had been on the transplant list for about three months before she received his gift. In the letter it stated her new lungs functioned immediately and she continues to get stronger. I’ve written a letter to the family in hopes of connecting with them and learning more about the recipient.
I miss my little boy a lot. We had big plans and were supposed to live happily ever after. He was my baby, my goofball and my hero. My nine-year old saved another child’s life. Through all of my grieving, a part of me knows he saved another family from losing a child and helps a little girl to take another breath every single day. And that makes me happy.