Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Remembrance Day is just six days away. It’s a time to remember the brave souls who died for our freedom. Freedom has a price, only because mankind is selfish and blood thirsty for power.
Remembering and never to forget, is very much like parents who have lost a child. Your memories over the years tend to become a ghostly presence of the past. But, as any grieving parent knows, we hold on dearly to our children’s memories, afraid they will fade away forever.
Parents who have lost a child, are in club they never wanted to be apart of in the first place.
Your life spirals out of control and you begin to hang on to hope. A hope that God and heaven are real, so one day you may be reunited with your loved ones. It’s like grasping onto a lottery ticket, hoping your numbers will finally be picked. But you know, the chances of seeing your child again are astronomically improbable.
So, what do parents do ?
We remember. We remember the precious time we had with our loved ones. And so today, I would like to share that time with you.
Jenni was just a baby before she died, but in that short time, she gave us a bundle of love I will never forget. As any proud father I would show her our world the best I could. Living in Calgary, Alberta at the time, working for an engineering design company (UMA) we were fortune enough to be close to the mountains. I would bundle up Jenni, like a mother kangaroo would do for her young joeys, and off we would go, exploring Banff, Lake Louise and parks throughout Calgary, including the Heritage Park Historical Village.
It’s this memory that stuck with me throughout time.
The Heritage Park Historical Village was the last good memory of Jenni. It will be a memory I will cherish forever, exploring together, as a family.
I’ll never forget when Jenni was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Not only the fact, I would be a new father, but it was also the time, the nurses were on strike in Alberta. Heading to our closest hospital, the Misericordia, it wasn’t long we had to make another quick trip to the University Hospital because of the limited staff.
My wife having a baby was truly a big event, but never did I think a comical event would arise as well. To have a clear understanding of the situation, it’s important to understand, the University Hospital caters to students in the medical field.
The delivery room was packed with interns, eager to learn and somewhat embarrassing for my wife, Patricia.
There I was, all excited for the delivery of our first child, fully clothed in a interns smock, fashioned with the latest mask and booties. The nurse in charge had me sit at the head, so I wouldn’t get in the way of the doctor and my wife giving birth.
It’s now 2:00 am.
The paediatrician came in, giving his speech to the interns, when he noticed me. I am the only one sitting down. He barks,” What the hell do you think you ARE doing? Get up or get out!”
Tired and half a sleep, I jumped up, totally surprised by his misdemeanour.
The head nurse goes over and quietly speaks into the doctor’s ear. He gives an arrogant huffing sound, saying,” Well, everyone should be standing.”
The room smirks with a soft laughter. Needless to say doctors are cranky this time of the morning.
Jenni was born on April 23, 1980. A bundle of joy, as the interns clapped for the occasion.
Getting the chance to hold Jenni, a precious little human being in my hands, was indeed a wonderful moment, one never forgets.
We had but only a few precious months with Jenni, but it was a time of happiness which will stay with me forever.
On November 5, 1980 was the tragic day, Jenni past away from a rare strange disease, called,” Kawasaki disease”. It’s an illness that involves the lymph nodes for reasons unknown, effects children under the age of five years old. At the time, the diagnosis wasn’t clear to the countless doctors who visited Jenni’s hospital room, at the Foothills medical Centre. Two weeks in the hospital, test after test, no one could make clear of the diagnosis. Apparently, at this time, Kawasaki wasn’t understood, as it is today. Untreated, it can lead to serious complications that can affect the heart.
And, unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.
To this day, I believe every child deserves to see the world and live a full life. Each requires to be healthy, never going to bed hungry, have shelter & clothing and receive unconditional love. The saying, “Parents should never see their child die before them”, is so very true.
Today, we are blessed with two daughters, Tianndra and Trisha, along with very precious grandchildren. Keep your children close to your hearts. Love them and be sure to say it as often as possible, because you never know what may happen in the future.
Patricia and I will always remember and never forget Jenni Michelle Demers.
By Bari Demers – screenwriter and freelance writer
UPDATE 2016 :
During the fourth episode of the new TV Series Westworld by HBO, there’s a dialogue by Delores ( a robotic humanoid) who just lost her parents.
She says” Pain. Their Loss… is all I have left of them. You think grieve would make you smaller and sad, like your heart will collapse in on itself, but it doesn’t…”
Never did they know how close those very words are… so close to my heart .
(In loving memory of my daughter, Jenni Michelle Demers – Nov 5 1980)