In a devastating letter posted to Facebook, a dad shared the difficult moments of grief he still experiences after the death of his son.
Greg Hughes described the emptiness he felt when his baby boy, only 32 days old, died of whooping cough.
The highly infectious respiratory tract infection, preventable only by vaccine according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), took his son’s life in 2015.
While going through a box last week, Hughes came across Riley’s eulogy letter. The heartbreaking open letter stirred up his most tragic memory.
The dad told Cafemom he was already “feeling quite down” when he found the letter he read at his son’s funeral.
He posted his honest response to his Dad Minus One page. Greg wrote:
I was going through the box the other day. That awful, heartbreaking box that represents one of the last tenuous links you have remaining to your lost child. In it I found the letter I wrote and read out the day of his funeral.
He told Cafemom:
“I decided I wanted to put a post up because even though he’s not here he’s still such an important part of my life and everything I do.
I just wanted to acknowledge him and make it known that he matters.”
For Greg, the birth of his son made him feel like his family of four was finally complete. The proud father of Riley and his 3-year-old, Olivia “felt empowered” that with the birth of his only son he would no longer be “dictated to by the whims of the Hughes women.”
Greg recalled the special bond Riley shared with his sister— in the “Girl-only” household his daughter immediately became super protective of her little brother.
She guarded his “precious little scalp, warding off friends, family and strangers alike in her loudest and most matronly voice she could muster,” the father wrote.
In his letter he described how scary and sad it was to watch whooping cough take his newborn.
I stand here completely bereft of words suitable to convey the enormity of loss I’m currently experiencing. I’m devastated, angry, heartbroken, empty, lost, confused, bewildered. My world has been thrown into chaos.
But somehow, as you always seemed to do whenever I’m feeling down, you’ve helped my find solace.
I want to be mad at you for leaving me behind; my house empty, my three year old bossy, my wife likewise. But I find an inner comfort in the fact that you were put here with a purpose.
You’ve changed the world in such a short period of time and you’ve made incredible changes to all of our lives.
According to the CDC, up to 20 babies die from whooping cough in the United States each year.
Greg and his wife, Catherine Hughes, have since had another baby, a daughter Lucy, who is now two years old.