April 3, 2012 started off like a regular day for us. Brandon, Chance and I got up and got ready for school and work. But for some reason on that morning, she was really quiet. Normally, she would be running around the apartment and not letting me comb her hair but on this morning, she was chillin. I asked her what was wrong and she said “Nothing…” She wanted to wear her favorite outfit. It was something I bought for her birthday. A purple peplum shirt with black and white stripped pants. And her YELLOW flip flops that she insisted on wearing. I told her they didn’t match but as usual, she did what she wanted. We dropped Brandon off at school and we made the drive to daycare. Normally, we would be singing and laughing but on this morning she was just looking out of the window. I call my Mom every morning and Chance would talk to her but again on this morning Chance didn’t want to talk. So, I dropped her off and I went to work.
When I was at work, I was on edge all day. Literally. Everything anyone said or did ticked me off!! I didn’t know what was going on. Well, that day for some reason I felt that I needed to make amends with someone. And I did. I hadn’t talked to this person in about a year and a half. That made me feel like I was making progress. My friend Erica and I planned to eat dinner at her house after work so I went to pick the kids up. When I got there, as usual, her hair looked like I never did anything to it. She ran up to me and hugged me like she did everyday and Brandon moseyed on to the car. This time on the way home she was singing and dancing like her normal self. We had to pass this small airport and she loved planes. I said “you’ll ride one soon, Chance”. She did later that night. I didn’t mean it that way.
When we got home, it was around 5:15. I made the last minute decision to stay home and cook dinner. Another decision I regret. I should have stuck to the plan. While I was cooking she was playing with Brandon and they were watching Netflix off and on. Making a mess in the living room. As usual. When I was done, we sat down and ate dinner together as we did every night. She was super greedy and on this night she ate everything that was on her plate. I said, “Were you hungry Chance?” She just looked up and smiled at me. Brandon was picking at his food and I knew that he would want something else later.
I went to my room and to get the sheets off of my bed because she slept with me the night before and because she was still potty training so she had an accident in the bed and I knew that prissy Chance would not sleep on them again unless they were clean. After I put the sheets in the washer, I went to the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom, they went into Brandon’s room to watch TV and play. She was running in and out of my room. And I would laugh and say, “Chance get out of here” and she would laugh and run away. When she ran out the last time, I hid by my dresser knowing that she would come back in and I was right. She came back in and I said, “what are you doing Chance?” we were both laughing and she said, “I love you Mama’. I said, ” I love you too Chance”. I went back into the bathroom. I wish I would have waited until they were in bed to finish what I was doing in the restroom.
Three minutes later, Brandon runs into my room crying. I said, “What’s wrong Brandon?” He says, “The TV fell!!!” I’m thinking to myself, “Ok, why is he crying because the TV fell?” But I look in his face and I know something isn’t right. Plus, Chance didn’t come in with him. I run in to his room and I see something that will haunt me forever. I see my Chance underneath the dresser and she’s unconscious. I don’t know where my strength came from but I picked that dresser up and threw it and picked up my baby. I scream her name and she doesn’t respond to me. I run out of my apartment holding her screaming for help. The neighborhood kids come and they see me holding her and they start crying. I call 911. I’m still screaming and my neighbor Robin comes downstairs and calls my mom and tells her that she needs to get to Little Rock. The paramedics came and they couldn’t get her to respond. She starts vomiting because she’d just eaten. Still they couldn’t get her to respond. They needed additional assistance and made a call to Arkansas Children’s hospital to request an helicopter to airlift her. I’m looking at her through the ambulance window, helpless. There is nothing I can do but watch them work on my baby. She finally was able to fly and I couldn’t be with her. My neighbor Robin and her fiancé drive me to Little Rock. While on the road, my Aunt Carolyn calls me and tells me that everything will be fine and that nothing can get Chance down. Honestly, I didn’t believe her. Not for one minute. She didn’t see my baby underneath the dresser. She didn’t see her unconscious. I knew it didn’t look good but I’m pretended to be hopeful. I’m crying and blaming myself the entire time.
I get to the hospital in less than 15 minutes but Chance hasn’t made it there. I later find out that they were having complications and she needed to be stabilized before she could be airlifted. Thankfully, my cousins have made it. I’m shaking, distraught, confused and wondering what is going on. A doctor comes in and tells me that, Chance has arrived but that it doesn’t look good. I jump up and I ask, “What the hell do you mean it doesn’t look good? That’s my baby! What are you saying?” He says that her lungs were collapsed and that she has severe head trauma. I told him that the dresser didn’t hit her head, that it was on her chest. He then asks what was on the dresser. I said regretfully, the TV was. I remember that the TV was on the other side of her when I got in the room. He said, “well the TV must’ve hit her…” My parents and brothers got there in record time from Marion and Jonesboro and when they got there my Mom asked what was going on? I told her that they said it didn’t look good. She was in a daze and she like me, was asking, “what do you mean?”…. I was so afraid that she would be upset with me because she loves her grandchildren and I failed at protecting her. By this time more of my family arrives and they give us a conference room to accommodate everyone.
About an hour later doctors come in and they tell us that it doesn’t look good and that the damage was too severe and that there was nothing that they could. I know that they were supposed to say that. They don’t give us any hope at all. We had to wait.
We’re finally able to see her and when we do, oh my God, she looks nothing like herself. Her favorite outfit has been cut off of her. She’s now severely swollen and still unconscious. I break down and cry. My mom is crying because this is not our baby. My dad is trying to be strong. My brothers are completely heartbroken. Brandon doesn’t know what’s going on. This is not the same baby that was singing and playing with me just mere hours before. I don’t stay in the room long because I couldn’t take seeing her like that. I literally ran out of there. My Uncle Milton goes into the room and see’s her and he says, “She’ll be fine. She’ll be just fine…” I go into a restroom, fall to my knees and I start saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” That’s all I can say. The doctors tell us that we need to make some decisions. My Daddy says that we’re going to let God heal her. The doctors say that at midnight they would run more tests and they’ll check and see if she has any activity in her brain.
Midnight comes and they say they did a test and they detected some activity. We start to feel hopeful and at 6 am they would do another scan on her to see if she’s getting better. That time comes and goes but, they can’t do it. Unfortunately, my two year old has a stroke overnight. They say she’s been stabilized and that at 10 am they will test again. This is by far the longest night of my life.
But, she doesn’t get better and they come in again and tell us that we need to start making decisions. They say that she will never be the same.
I made the hardest decision that I’m sure I’ll ever have to make. I made the decision to remove her from the life support.
I went into her hospital room and I held her for the last time as the nurses start unplugging the ventilators that have been keeping her breathing and alive. This is the only way I could hold her. I held her while she was dying and sang “Love on Top” to her. I remember singing, ” Chance it’s you. You’re the one I love, you’re the one I need, you’re the only one I see. You’re the one that gives your all. You’re the one I’ll always call. When I need you, you make everything stop…You put my love on top…” I cry and tell her that I’m sorry as she leaves me. I’m hugging and kissing her. Stroking her. Taking in the last moments I have with her.
While I’m holding her, she feels so heavy. And it seems like she grew overnight. Everyone takes their turns holding her and we all say goodbye. My brothers couldn’t do it.
At 4:44 pm on April 4, 2012, Sydney Chance Bowles, my baby girl, went to heaven.
I’ve never experienced pain and heartache like that. I could not believe that I would be leaving the hospital without her.
I know that she’s better off but I’ll always wish that she was with me. I would have taken her in any way that she was. I would have taken care of her for the rest of my life. God had other plans.
The past nine years have been extremely hard. But I’ve made it through. I never thought that I would. Brandon and Chance are my world. I didn’t think I would be able to live without her. And there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her.
I remember the good times because those are the only times we had. There were never bad days with Chance. She was a character. She’s the funniest child I’ve ever met. The prettiest little girl I’ll ever see.
I tell this story to let you all know that life is not promised. I never realized how true that was until this happened. You won’t understand until something happens to you. It ticks me off when people know my story and they still act like what happened to us won’t happen to them. You’re not exempt. We weren’t.
God makes no mistakes and everything that we go through is for a purpose. Even when we don’t know the reasons. I think about the story of Joseph. He was sold by his brothers into slavery. He was accused of rape. He was put in prison. But through it all, it was for a reason. His brothers thought that they were hurting him but God. God allowed it all to happen and in the end Joseph was the one that helped his brothers. When they finally saw Joseph years after selling him, they were afraid. But Joseph told them, don’t be afraid. God allowed this to happen so I could help you all! He kept them from starving during the famine. His brothers meant it for bad but God knew that it was for their good.
I’m not comparing Chance to Joseph but since this has happened, she has saved lives. Most people have never really thought about the dangers of falling furniture. But because God allowed it to happen to us, we’ve been able to open up the eyes of others. Now do I think it could’ve been done with her still being here, yes.
But does God know best, yes! My baby doesn’t have to suffer. She doesn’t have to live in this crazy world. She’s able to sing and dance in Heaven. What more could I ask for? Do I miss her? Yes. But I know that she wouldn’t come back. I wouldn’t want her to. I always wanted her to be happy and now I know without a shadow of a doubt that she is….
Again, I miss her everyday. I see her cousins growing and getting older and I wonder how would Chance be. It’s hard having so many “what if’s”. But, I know her time in heaven has been better than any day she ever spent on this earth.
I will continue to honor her and thank God for the time He allowed me and my family to have with her.
Please keep in mind that tipovers are totally preventable. I tell this difficult story for people to know what it looks like to deal with your child being injured. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.
So, for me, for Chance….anchor it because no parent should have to go through what we’ve gone through.