My son Andrew was born on my birthday: February 23, 1993. He was a gift from heaven, almost as if God was making up for every gift that I never had, every candle I never blew out, and every birthday wish I never heard. I grew up in and out of foster care, rarely was my special day remembered. I took him from the hospital without a name. I wanted to give him a special name that meant something. My daughter suggested we name him Hubba Bubba, after a popular gum. His cheeks were pink and rosy just like bubble gum. As he grew up, he would tell his friends the story of his first and real name. After searching, I finally found the perfect name, Andrew James Ittayem. His name means strong and manly. His name fit who he was, strong, strong even in death.
The night Andrew died, I was at home in a deep sleep. I recall hearing and feeling a shot so powerful that caused me to sat up in bed. I was so exhausted that I started to lay down, but hesitated and prayed. I now know that was my creator telling me to pray. I didn’t know who I was praying for, so I prayed, God whoever just was shot, I speak life, but if you choose to take them, send a ministering angel to minister salvation. I laid back down to sleep heard crying from the soul or gasping for breath. I heard a yell out and experienced breath spontaneously come from my mouth. I felt a strong exit, as if someone went by. Not long after my experience I received a phone call that he was dead. Andrew was murdered at the age of 17. Andrew was being robbed, and was shot in the back while trying to walk away. My son lived two minutes after the bullet ripped through his heart and lungs.
There is no pain like the death of a child. I feel like when he died, a part of me ceased to exist. I was robbed of his life, and the ability of watching him become a man. I will never experience him walking across the stage to earn his diploma, I will never experience his wedding, or the birth of his children. He was suppose to cry at my funeral and bury me. My memory he was to hold in his heart.
Shortly after coming home from service, I walked over to my daughters house. My daughter and I lived in the same apartment complex. I took the last living carnation from the vase that was taken from his funeral. I walked back to my apartment, sitting the rose on the table. I sat down at the table to call my then fiancee. I heard a swoosh sound coming from the right of me, I knew something was happening, but I couldn’t move and continued to stare forward. When I was able to look, I seen the last carnation pressed up against my glass table beside me, the stem was hanging as if someone was giving me a rose. Earlier at church I had been distraught, I requested that God send an angel to let me know that my child was okay. The carnation was white, so I looked up the meaning of a white carnation. The white carnation means love and a flower from heaven.
I may never truly understand why my gift was taken from me so soon, or the gift of life was taken from Andrew at 17, but I know that somehow this fits in God’s perfect plan for Andrew’s life and my own. Through his death I’ve become a more loving parent, and I don’t fail to tell my remaining children that they are wanted and loved. I was given a special gift on my birthday in his birth, and a gift during his death and many times after. I know death isn’t the end, life begins again in a different form and place. I realize love has no boundaries. God’s love for his creation consist of comforting for those that walk through and those that are left behind in the shadow of death. God, thank you for sharing and allowing your child to become my son for a short time. I want to thank you for allowing Andrew to say goodbye. Eternal father I now release my gift to you. Andrew, until we meet again.