Meghan and her mum Kimberly, a few weeks before the accident.
The following is an except from a post by Kimberly Packard, from her blog ‘Love, light, laughter and chocolate: one mum’s journey’. It tells of the day she lost her daughter, Meghan, in an accident at home, and the message she wants all parents to know.
Eight years ago, I woke to a nightmare. My beautiful three-year-old was lifeless under her dresser. Somehow she’d managed to tip it over on herself while we slept. We didn’t hear it fall. She was unable to cry. She died in minutes while the rest of our family slept, her airway compressed by a drawer under the weight of the dresser.
I am, by nature, an early riser. That day, I had wanted to sleep in. Had I gotten up earlier, when she first woke up, she'd still be here with us. Instead, I told her it wasn't time to get up yet and I went back to bed. She was playing in her room as she often did before it was 'get up time'.
If we had secured her dresser to the wall, like we had taller and heavier pieces of furniture, she would not have died.
The fact that I failed to keep my child safe (partially because of my own selfishness in wanting to sleep), and that it resulted in her very preventable death, is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how much that hurts.
On the anniversary of her death, I stand in the doorway to her room and pause. I close my eyes. I allow myself to remember my husband screaming my name and being woken from a deep sleep, knowing instantly something horrible had happened from the tone of his voice. I remember running into her room, seeing her tiny, beautiful body, pale and blue, lifeless on the floor. He had thrown the dresser off her. I remember my older son, then six, crying and yelling, "What happened to Meggie … Mummy, make her wake up, make her wake up!"
I remember doing CPR, simultaneously begging her to come back to us and yet knowing it was already too late. I remember her twin kneeling at her feet, quietly saying, "Mummy, Meggie not wake up." It wasn’t a question. It was a statement of fact.
I remember the EMTs arriving, taking over CPR. I remember running outside in bare feet and then flying to the car.
I remember, very vividly, walking into the ER at the hospital, and telling the girl at the check-in desk that my daughter was just brought in by ambulance. She told me they'd be right with me and not to worry, she was sure it would be okay. I almost slapped her. She's dead! What the hell do you mean it will be okay?!
I remember the little room, and the kind woman (a nurse maybe?) who sat with us. Who brought me ginger ale and tissues, which I asked for in the hopes it would quell the nausea and keep me from passing out. She prayed with us, because clearly we needed it, and there was little else we could do. I remember talking to our neighbour, an ER doctor, who was part of the team caring for her. The look on his face said everything, but they were opting to airlift her to a trauma hospital. He said it didn't look good but they were not giving up yet.
We were allowed to see her before they took her. I was vaguely aware of the many people around her, yet all I saw was her beautiful face. I kissed her, stroked her silky blonde hair and told her I loved her. I remember thinking she'd have loved the helicopter ride. There were tears in the eyes of the staff tending to her. I remember one nurse saying she promised me Meggie was well loved and deeply cared for by everyone who tended to her that morning in the ER.
One of the EMTs drove us to the next hospital, and we were lead to the God-awful room. You know the one, where the priest is waiting with you. It wasn't long before a very uneasy looking resident and the trauma chief, who had on a lovely Christmas tie (odd what you remember), said something to the effect of "blah, blah, blah ... I'm very sorry, but Meghan has died."
There was no more hope. It was over. My baby girl was gone forever. I couldn't have hurt anymore than I already did, so I took a deep breath and asked to see her. All I wanted to do at that moment was to see her.
Meggie looked so peaceful. A true sleeping beauty. If only a kiss could really bring her back! I wish we had a picture of her then, she was so beautiful and so at peace. Her colour was better thanks to an hour of CPR. They asked if they could call anyone for us. I couldn't remember phone numbers; they looked them up and dialled for me. They held the phone to my ear because I was shaking so badly I couldn't even hold it. How do you tell your parents their granddaughter is dead?
I was asked if I'd like to hold her. Of course I said yes. I'd have held her forever if I could have. They got me a rocking chair and they placed her in my arms. They covered us both with a warm blanket. I rocked her and held her little hand. So delicate and tiny. I stared and stared at her face. It was so surreal. How could she really be gone? I kissed her. I talked to her. I cried. But mostly, I stared at her and loved her.
I had to come home and tell my boys, on the kitchen floor of a neighbour’s house, where they immediately clamoured into my lap hoping for good news. The pain on their faces exponentially deepened my own pain. How could three and six year olds comprehend the death of their sister when their parents were struggling so much? We came home, without our Meggie. And our lives have never, ever been the same.
The simply answer to why Meghan died is because her dresser wasn’t secured. Fifteen minutes and $5 would have saved her life. It's that simple. Why she died when dressers have fallen on so many other children who were luckier and weren’t injured isn’t for me to answer. All I can do now is try to educate as many people as I can about these dangers so it never happens to another child again. So no mother ever feels the pain I do. So no one need bury their child because of something that could have easily been prevented.
To make sure your home is safe for children, follow the instructions on Kid Safe's fact sheets.