Katie

Lost her 2 year old brother | Vermont

Losing your sibling is an experience that impacts your life forever. I know this because I live with it every day. On May 20,1997 my little brother Justin died from Bacterial Meningitis. I was 4 and he was 2. We were on our first family vacation to Atlanta, Georgia, to visit my aunt.I remember my brother getting sick and my parents bringing him to the doctor. When they got back, they told us he had a cold but he would be ok. Then I remember waking up in the night to the paramedics and police officer in my aunt’s house. They took Justin to the hospital and my parents left with him. I was so scared, that I ran and hid in my aunt’s room.

In the morning my aunt took me to the hospital. I was admitted and checked for Meningitis. All I wanted to do was see my brother, but I couldn’t because he was very sick. I never did get the chance to see him before he died, and I never got to say good bye. I was very sad and confused. I didn’t understand what was happening to my family. I became an only child. Where was my brother? I was too young to truly understand the reality of it all.

As time went by and I got older, I started to ask a lot of questions about Justin’s death. My parents were great. They explained it all to me. They told me he had gotten Bacterial Meningitis, but the doctor at the clinic didn’t know this the night before he was taken to the hospital. My parents found this out when they got to the hospital. They explained how contagious this was and that that was why I was admitted and treated, and why they were brought next door to an adult hospital to be tested and treated. They explained that the reason why they didn’t let me say good bye to him was because he was bleeding internally, and it would have been too hard for me to see him. They didn’t want me to have to live with that image. They told me he was 36 pounds at the clinic the night before he died, but when he died he weighed 101 pounds. This was from all the blood and fluids they gave him, to try and save his life. My parents went from being told Justin had an ear infection to him dying less than 12 hours later.

Justin’s death is something I will always remember. It has impacted my life greatly. It has made me realize that unexpected things can happen in life. You just have to accept life as it is, and have hope and believe in yourself. Every day is hard on my family and me. We miss him dearly. He will always live on in our hearts. I think his death has made our family ties very strong. My parents believe in me so much. I know I wouldn’t have made it through all this, and have become the person I am today without them. They are very strong people. They have taught me that you can overcome tragedy. I saw this first hand when we built a playground in Rutland, in Justin’s memory. It is called the Justin Thomas Memorial Park. I love to watch the little kids play there, and to think about the good times I had with Justin. He will always be a big part of my life. I think that his death is the reason why I want to become a pediatric nurse. I want to be able to help kids that are sick. I want them to feel like there is hope. I want to make them smile and laugh, even if it is only for a short time. It would mean the world to me, and is why I am so motivated to do what it takes to reach my goal.


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