We cannot begin to thank everyone for helping us celebrate Connor’s life, through being one of the hundreds who attended his funeral services; making meals; calling; emailing; texting; cards; letters; or making donations to his fund. The generosity has been absolutely amazing.
Last night was our first night with no friends or family in the house. The silence can be deafening at times, but it was really nice to have a few moments to ourselves. We are heartbroken by our loss, but know that we have such a huge support group to help us through this. There will always be a feeling of emptiness inside, but we have lots of people trying to help fill it. We wanted to share our eulogy for Connor with those who couldn’t make it. Thank you again for everything.
Connor Robert White was named for Beth’s father, J. Robert Brown, who passed away almost two years ago. He told Beth, “Connor’s a nice name,” and that is the reason we chose it. I always felt there was a little bit of Bob in Connor.
The day Connor was born was a rush of emotion. His heart rate dropped in utero and he had to be delivered by emergency C-section. Hayden and Noah were both born naturally and Connor was planned that way too. However, Connor had a way of changing our plans. He spent a week in the Reston NICU where we called him the biggest, baddest baby in the NICU.
When Connor arrived home – a little later than planned – he was loved by our entire neighborhood. We would walk across the street to Ric and Kristi’s, sit around in chairs on the driveway and each neighbor would take a turn holding and/or feeding Connor. The ladies were particularly fond of him. I remember watching Paris, Deb, Jen, Kristen, Kristie, Tanya and Elsy all hold and/or feed him. All of the little girls in the neighborhood flocked to him. It seemed that Connor would be the last baby of our group of neighbors and everyone was just getting one last chance to hold on to his innocence.
You would think that Hayden and Noah would have been jealous of all of the attention Connor was stealing, but they weren’t. People kept asking us how the boys were adjusting and we kept waiting for something, but they adjusted so easily. Like any child, they showed glimpses of jealousy, but they fawned over Connor. They talked to him, kissed his head, sang to him, even bounced him a little too much in his bouncy seat. They were both so proud to be big brothers; their eyes lit up when we gave them big brother t-shirts.
Like Hayden and Noah, Connor was a wonderful sleeper. Just walking to his room each night to check on him was a joy. Seeing his beautiful, peaceful face as he slept brought serenity to our lives. Most days when I get home from work, Hayden and Noah come greet me with a hug and a kiss. But every day, Connor would greet me with a smile.
My sister Katie once remarked that he was the happiest, easiest baby she had ever seen. Maybe because he was the third child or maybe it was just because of the overwhelming strength of his heart, but he seemed to start smiling earlier in life than his brothers. Looking at him and giving him a daddy patented “bug-a bug-a-boo” would generate a grin from ear to ear.
When Connor started to get sick, that smile started to diminish. It was still there, but it wasn’t as often. As the days passed, we could tell something was really wrong because no matter what we did, nothing comforted him and his smiles were few and far between. When we were diagnosed, not only did Connor have cancer, but his whole family felt that cancer.
The night he was diagnosed, I had gone home to get some sleep and help get Hayden and Noah off to school in the morning, only to have to rush back when Beth was told he had a brain tumor. I remember: –
– The look on Stefanie’s face when I told her that night.
– The stunned silence from Katie when I called her.
– The loving strength from my parents who had already lost two grandchildren.
– The support from Uncle Mike when I called him.
– The pain in Beth’s mom’s voice when Beth told her.
– The nursing instincts from Beth’s sister Jen when we called her.
Those memories are etched in our heads and will forever be remembered for all of their love. Many of them have uprooted their lives to help when they had many things already going on in their lives at the time.
Stefanie has been here more than she’s been home since mid-December. She mostly helped get the boys to and from places to give them a sense of normalcy. She lost her two beautiful angels 3 ½ years ago. I’ve seen the pain on her face like Connor was her own.
Jen has been our personal ICU nurse. She attended almost every meeting to help us ask the right questions and make sure we were doing everything we could for Connor. Our children are her children. She’s been able to hide the pain well, but we both know she feels this as much as we do.
We were planning for a long fight. As many of you saw in our caring bridge posts, we were deciding which protocol to follow (hoping that the first surgery got it all). This cancer was just too aggressive and it came back everywhere. Connor never had a chance, but he still kept fighting that last day. We thought we lost him a couple of times, but he kept fighting for every last breath. In the end, he passed peacefully in our arms.
While the loss of a son or a daughter at such a young age is a tragedy, for some reason, we still feel lucky. We were lucky that Connor didn’t have to suffer a long, protracted illness. We were lucky to meet our doctors such as Jeff, PICU nurses such as Katie and hematology/oncology nurses such as Brooke, Victoria, and Kristin; they were only a few of Connor’s angels. The last 3 days of Connor’s life were supposed to be days off for Jeff. He spent a majority of those days with us and our family at the hospital. He cared for Connor like he was his own. Kristen was our nurse for the last two days of Connor’s life. After he passed she helped us bathe Connor for the last time and held him in her arms as we said our last goodbyes. She was truly his guardian angel. Their compassion reminds us that love and hope matter most in life and how lucky we are to have them.
We read something when the shootings happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. Many asked, “Where was god?” The response was that god was there in the teachers that protected the children; god was there in the policemen who ran into the building; god was there in the outpouring of love and support in the days and weeks after. While god couldn’t save Connor, we know that he is with us through all of you.
I’ve probably said this a million times, but the warmth, support, love and generosity our friends, family, and even people who don’t know us have provided have helped keep us afloat during this difficult time. We’re lucky to have all of you. Our angel is gone, but will never be forgotten.
We love you Connor.