A Young Girl Confronts Feelings Of Guilt After The Death Of Her Brother
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Now we're going to hear a story about what happens when a young person loses a little sibling. That's what happened to Precious Gause. She's a youth reporter for WLRN. Precious recently talked about this for the first time with her mother, and she sent us this story. It's produced with Youth Radio.
PRECIOUS GAUSE, BYLINE: Me, my mom, my brother and some friends walk across the grass at Vista Memorial Gardens in Hialeah, a city west of Miami. If you're thinking it's a flower garden, it's not. It's a graveyard. There's a whole section where babies are buried, and that's where my little brother is.
GAUSE: Hey, Troy.
I turned around to see my mother's reaction.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Crying).
GAUSE: My little brother Troy would have turned 1 year old today, but he didn't even make it to one day old. To be honest, for the most part, I didn't want the baby. I already have an 8-year-old brother. And to have another one come along - I just wasn't feeling it. I told my mom a million times that when she had him, that he would not be my responsibility.
How did I make you feel knowing I didn't want you to have the baby?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, I understood why, but I knew that I couldn't go through with having an abortion because I am a Christian, and I live by the Bible.
GAUSE: I didn't want a baby getting in the way of my relationship with my mom. On the other hand, my brother, Nick - he really wanted another sibling. He was so excited about the baby coming.
NICK: We had this connection, a brotherly affection.
GAUSE: Nick said when he imagined seeing the baby for the first time, he knew he was going to love him. But seven months into my mom's pregnancy, she didn't feel the baby moving.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The baby was a very active baby. And so I just felt like something was wrong, so I went to the hospital.
GAUSE: They told her the baby's heart wasn't beating.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: My sister was waiting for me in the waiting room. She came in. She heard me crying, and she asked what was going on.
GAUSE: Troy was stillborn. When I saw him, all I could do was cry. He was in my mom's arms turning blue. I really thought that I had killed this baby by stressing my mom out about not wanting it. The thing is, by then, I had actually gotten used to the idea of my mom having a baby. It just tore me apart seeing my mom so sad and depressed. It made the guilt come even stronger, but we never really talked about it. So I sat down with my mom and asked, why didn't you ever talk about the death of my brother?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Because it was very painful, a very devastating loss, and I just never really wanted to face losing him.
GAUSE: My mom did talk to my pastor, which I'm happy about, but I wish she had talked to me too. I also needed counsel.
Did you know that once you lost the baby, I was really upset and realized that I wanted you to have the baby?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I knew that because I think that guilt set it. It was not your fault. I don't ever want you to, you know, feel like it was 'cause it was not your fault. I even blame myself, but you know, God has healed my heart concerning that.
GAUSE: But back at the grave site where we came to celebrate the life of my brother, it wasn't much of a celebration.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's not right.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm just trying to see what I can do to help you out.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That's not right.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's not right.
GAUSE: All the stuff that we had placed on his grave, like a glass Angel, flowers and little lights, were smashed and thrown into a corner. It rubbed in the fact that he doesn't have a gravestone yet. Mom couldn't afford it at the time. Still, we found some peace knowing that he's in a better place. And I can say that, a year after his death, most of the guilt for both of us has gone away. We can talk about it more, and it's really sort of brought us together. For NPR News, I'm Precious Gause.
MCEVERS: That story comes to us from WLRN's youth project and URGENT, Inc. produced with Youth Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.