Climbing to heaven

All our little boy saw was adventure. Tragically, he never saw the danger...

Published by: Dawn Murden and James Hore
Published on: 14 February 2013

Our house was total madness! As I fed my six-month-old daughter Faye her bottle, my eldest, Keira, three, ran into the room and clambered onto the bed.
‘Goddy!' she squealed, using the nickname for her little brother Mason who was chasing her.
‘Come here you cheeky monkey,' my partner Adrian roared, joining in, too. He caught hold of Mason and tickled him.
Mason was so boisterous. He certainly kept us on our toes!
But this was just the kind of family life me and Adrian had always wanted. We'd met through friends four years before. Just 11 months after Keira was born, Mason had come along. Now we had Faye as well, so our family was complete.
As I watched Mason try to wrestle out of his Daddy's grip, I thought back to my 20-week scan.
‘It's a boy,' the doctor had smiled. ‘Let's name him Mason,' Adrian beamed.
Adrian was a real manly man, so he'd been excited about the thought of teaching his boy all about martial arts and cars. And Mason loved his Daddy. ‘He looks like your mini-me,' I'd giggled, when Adrian had cut Mason's hair like his own just a few weeks before.
We'd recently bought him a motorised car so he could drive around the park beside Adrian. Our little lad had a real soft side, too. He and Keira shared a room and every night they watched The Lion King together before bed.
One time, I'd only just said goodnight when a storm started.
‘I think Keira's crying,' I sighed to Adrian.
‘Wait a sec,' he said, pointing to the video monitor which was linked up to their room. ‘Look!'
Turning, I watched Mason pick up Keira's favourite teddy from the floor. Then he climbed into her bed. Her crying stopped immediately. ‘That's the sweetest thing,' I grinned. It was so lovely to see, because more often than not Mason would be running around like a headless chicken!
‘You can't climb up there,' I panicked a few days on, after I found him standing on his chest of drawers. ‘You could hurt yourself...'
Recently, he'd climbed up on the kitchen table, only to fall off and cut his lip. ‘Again,' he'd giggled, undaunted, as if he was scaling it like a mountaineer. He had no fear.
Over dinner, I mentioned to Adrian that I'd caught Mason climbing again. ‘He's such a little explorer,' I tutted.
‘I'll take out the bottom two drawers so there's nothing for his feet to grip on,' Adrian said.
‘Good idea,' I agreed. It did the trick, and Mason didn't climb the drawers again.
A few weeks later, we were celebrating Adrian's 29th birthday. Me and the kids had baked a huge chocolate cake.
‘More?' Mason laughed, gobbling the last piece.
‘It's all gone,' I giggled.
‘Time for a bath,' I announced, picking up Keira and Mason. ‘Stop splashing you cheeky monkey,' I giggled. ‘No, no, no!' Mason sang as he splashed about with his sister. I pulled out my phone and recorded him so I could show Adrian later.
Soon, I'd tucked them up in bed. ‘Night my darlings,' I said, giving them each a kiss.
The next morning, I woke up bright and early to give Faye her bottle. I'd usually expect Mason and Keira to run in, but the house was quiet. Maybe they were still asleep... ‘Let's go and wake your brother and sister,' I cooed to Faye, as I walked in their room with her in my arms.
Peering through the door, I noticed the chest of drawers had fallen over. But I hadn't heard a thing. Then I saw Keira shivering in the corner of the room next to the drawers. She was clutching her teddy.
Seconds later, I realised there were two tiny feet poking out from underneath the solid wood.
‘Mason!' I screeched, my blood turning cold. ‘Help! Adrian!'
Time stood still as I waited all of a second for Adrian to bolt into the room. His face drained of colour when he saw Mason's feet, but in one swift movement he lifted the chest of drawers.
‘No!' I gasped, letting out a blood-curdling scream. Mason was motionless, his skin blue.
‘It's okay,' Adrian kept repeating. Then he scooped up Keira and took Faye off me. ‘I'll take them to the lounge,' he gasped, breathless.
I was still in shock and hadn't moved.
I couldn't process what was happening. Mason must have climbed up the drawers and they'd fallen on top of him.
Finally, I dropped to my knees. ‘Is he breathing?' Adrian panicked, appearing again, holding his phone.
‘No,' I cried, feeling his cheek. It was cold.
‘We have to try CPR,' Adrian spluttered. ‘I rang for an ambulance.'
Moments later, the operator was talking us through what we needed to do.
‘Come on, Mason,' Adrian begged as he pressed on his son's little chest. But Mason wasn't responding. Ten minutes later, an ambulance arrived. Once we arrived at the hospital, Mason was whisked off, then a doctor took us aside.
‘I'm so sorry,' he said, gently. ‘There's nothing more we can do.'
‘No!' I wept, my whole world falling apart. We were led through to the room where Mason lay. There were tubes still snaked across his body.
‘It's all my fault,' Adrian sobbed as he held Mason's hand.
‘I thought I was keeping him safe by removing the bottom drawers, but it was top heavy.'
‘No,' I cried, shaking my head. ‘It was an accident. It could have happened to anyone.' I'd have done anything to take away his guilt.
Back at home, the reality of our loss sunk in. ‘Goddy hurt,' Keira said, starting to cry.
‘He's with the stars now,' I sobbed, desperate to soothe her.
Her lip trembled as she held onto me and cried. She didn't want to go back in their room, so we moved her bed in with us.
Later that night, I crawled into bed and suddenly remembered the video I'd recorded of Mason in the bath. Me and Adrian then lay there in the darkness watching him singing on my phone.
Before Mason was taken for an autopsy, we were allowed to see him. I read him a special poem.
If tears could build a stairway, I read. I'd walk right up to heaven and bring you home.
Six weeks on, the inquest concluded that Mason had been suffocated. But it was just a tragic accident.
His funeral was held at our local cemetary, a month before his second birthday. We chose a white coffin and dressed him in a white suit. ‘You're an angel now,' I said, placing teddies, a family picture and a letter I'd written beside him.
As Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven played in church, I choked back the lump in my throat. When me and Adrian lowered his coffin into the ground, Keira sprinkled rose petals on top.
It's only been three months since Mason's death and Keira still sleeps in our room every night. Their old bedroom is untouched, although we light a candle in there for Mason every morning.
I know Adrian still feels guilty. I catch him sometimes with that hollow look in his eyes.
The memories in our house are far too painful, so we'll move soon. Although we need to build happy new memories for the girls, we'll never forget our little star in heaven.
Christine Tauchert, 22, Colchester, Essex