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Monday, June 20, 2011


It was a fairly unremarkable day last year, in August 2010. Like most days in August in Northern Virginia, the humidity was palpable and I had retreated for cover in our home, deliberating whether to just go through with it. Not wanting to think about it any longer, I pressed my foot down on the garbage can and threw the stupid thing away before I could vacillate any longer.

A few minutes later, John walked into the kitchen and got out some orange juice from the frig. He stepped on the garbage can to throw out a wrapper. I knew what he was going to say before the words were even out.

He looked up at me. "Did you throw away the..?"
"Yes," I said, before he could get the words out.
He looked dumbfounded. "Why?"
"It was broken." I said.
"Broken?" he asked, fairly dubiously.
"Yes. Broken." My tone must have implied that I didn't want to talk about it anymore, because he let it go.

Our baby video monitor, which we had spent so many hours of our lives losing sleep over as we watched out children NOT sleep at night, was finally being retired as it lay in our kitchen trash.

(August 2009) One year earlier . . .

I was reaching my 36 week mark of my second pregnancy. I was on bedrest, exhausted and still extremely jealous of all the women who wore their pregnancies with so much more grace than I ever seemed to pull off. I was never one of those women who could wear stilettos till the moment of delivery.

After the second trimester, I have historically been more of a Crocs kind of girl.

Across the street, my friend Sherri is one of those graceful women. Pregnant with twins, she was due a few weeks after me. On hot summer days, I would find myself outside, sitting in front of her house as our then two year olds would cavort in the inflatable swimming pool and water slide she still had the energy to set up.. Exhausted from just watching her do so much labor, I would retire on a chair beside her and admire my cankles and talked about missing beer and cold cuts and sushi - what seemed like such great sacrifices to us at that moment in time. We did not even pretend that I could keep up with her and I tried not to feel too guilty as she kept up with our older kids.

We talked about our deliveries, our doctors, how much fun it was going to be for all of our kids to grow up on this cul-de-sac, the lasting friendship we hoped our children would have together in this neighborhood. A neighborhood that feels more like family and good friends than just people who share houses on the same road.

I went into labor shortly after, and Nico was four weeks early.

John, Nico and me

Everything went well until at 5 days old, we had to bring Nico back to the hospital where he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis. Our world had been turned upside down for the five days we spent in the hospital and I made so many promises and prayed so hard to a God I very fickly admit to believe in.

Since I was raised Hindu, I thought I would leverage the plural use of God(s) in this case since more could not hurt.

When we returned from the hospital, it was not long after that Sherri gave birth to her twin boys, Cole and Declan. It was truly a joyous time for all of us.

Sherri, Cole and Declan

Night Vision

At night, I would watch Nico very closely in his crib over the video monitor. Given the fear I had of almost losing him during that early reality check we had in the hospital, I was overly cautious and perhaps a bit more connected to the video monitor than I hoped to be.

I lay in bed and would just watch him, sometimes just to make sure I could detect movement or hear the reassuring coos he would make.

The monitor, at this point, was two years old, already put to heavy use with our eldest, Shaila. It would sometimes do some random things. You would be watching your kid flopping around in their crib and suddenly see it cut out to another crib or bed before switching back.

These moments were infrequent, but they did happen.

I let most of our neighbors who had kids know about this freaky video camera/channel thing, just to make sure they were aware. Nobody reported having any issues on their end with their video monitors.

But over time, things got a little less clear on our monitor. It would switch out more frequently and the image of our own child became more blurry when it was focused on Nico.

When I would sleep at night, I would often go to bed looking at the fuzzy video of Nico. As I drifted in and out of sleep, the picture would somehow switch to Cole and Declan, sleeping wrapped as two brothers who knew the comfort of each others' heartbeats.

I was no longer disturbed by these video "interruptions."

Until the larger, unexpected interruption occurred with our lives.

Declan was diagnosed with cancer. AT/RT, a rare brain tumor.

I tossed and turned many nights those months. The video camera would hold still on Nico and had increased the frequency of its "switches." I would often catch a image of Cole sleeping alone in his bed, no longer with the comfort of his best friend. These glimpses were for a few seconds, but I would lay in bed, unable to sleep.

Unable to breathe, it felt.

Where was Declan sleeping tonight? How was the family doing? How much longer would all four brothers in this family need to be apart?

Deep breath.

Fast Forward.


In August, a few months that felt like a lifetime later, our Au Pair, Fe, complained about the monitor as well.

And that was it. I could go and hug Nico a few rooms over. I did not need that monitor anymore. I would never have that stolen image again.

The day I realized for real, in my heart, that Declan would not be coming home was the day I threw out the video monitor. I could no longer bear to see it.

I could no longer bear to ACCEPT what I would no longer see.

This takes me to my conversation in the kitchen with John in the kitchen in August 2010, just days short of Declan's passing.

"Broken?" John asked.
"Yes. Broken."


Please help us fix this. That video monitor is gone along with the smile of a boy I loved. But we can fix this.


Journey 4 a Cure with us.

(Masala Chica)

Vivint is giving away $1.25 Million to charities. Help us win!


Seeker of Truth said...

Good post, Kiran. I like the one before it, too, about the sympathy posts on fb. I'm really sorry to have heard about Declan, even though I never saw him or met his parents. I can't imagine what that must be like for them.

I voted, and this is a good reminder to vote again. If you don't mind, I'd like to pray for you, John, and your kids, and for Sherri and her family. (If you'd rather I not, I'll respect your wishes.) I wish I had an answer for you as to why this happened.

Masala Chica said...

John, you are a wonderful human being. Your prayers would mean the world to all of us. There is no shortage of hope and strength that is still needed to get through this and to make this organization and funding for this a reality.

Thank you - you are a good friend . . . Sometimes there are no answers, but if we can get this funded we may be able to answer how to fix this, though we may never know the "why"

We will do lunch again soon!

Seeker of Truth said...

Ok, then I will definitely be praying.

For lunch, I'd like that. Or better still, maybe you and John can come over for dinner. (Just found this out within the last year, but I'm actually a decent cook. Who knew? :) )


Diana said...

Why do you all like to make me cry so much? And people wonder why I never wear makeup unless forced to. (or maybe people wonder because I need it so badly:) Kiran- like Sherri's writing- you capture emotion so well- so honest and real... Tears stream down my cheeks between reading Sherri's beautiful note- and yours... I thank you all for your friendship and for letting me be on the journey with you amazing people. I'd pretty much do anything, and I mean it, to turn back the hands of time and freeze it... until there was a cure for sweet Declan. For all children. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and bringing perspective to all of us- especially those that think they have it rough. Although we all are entitled to feeling down, angry, sad...complain about our kids, husbands, dogs, the weather... at the end of the day- all that matters is love and being the best person we can treat people well, to respect be there. You clearly do all of those things and are gracious, grateful and kind. The Carmical family is so fortunate to have a true friend in you and your family. Love from, Diana

Alia Dalwai said...

This is so sad. I read Declan's story on
I cannot imagine how painful this must be for the parents!

May his soul rest in peace!

Colleen said...

This is truley just heartbreaking. It's not the first I've heard of it, but your telling of it is so moving.

I can't even imagine the pain the family is experiencing - nor you for that matter.

Thank you for this post.


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