Editor's Note: The Camden Scott Meyer Pediatric Lab in the College of Health Professions was dedicated in July. The following is a letter from Cami Meyer, who shares the journey that led to her and her husband, Dennis, establishing the lab.
The death of a child: It's been said it is the greatest pain no parent should endure. Sadly, my husband and I are living testaments to the truth in that statement.
In October 2002, my husband and I welcomed our first child; a son we named Camden. A name perfectly picked out as we combined the first three letters of my name, Cami, and my husband, Dennis. Camden was born healthy and surrounded by the love of family and friends who helped share in our excitement. After just one night spent in the nursery we dreamily prepared for his arrival, our lives took a drastic turn. Camden stopped breathing and could not be revived. We had no preparation for how fast our world would forever be changed. We held him as he took his last breath, said our goodbyes and left the MUSC Children's Hospital with empty hands and heavy hearts. He blessed this earth for just three beautiful days.
Our healing was an evolving process.
I recall the early days when I was positive the dark clouds looming over my head would never part, and yet, over time, I was able to see the sun again. My husband and I learned to smile again, laugh again, but we knew our lives would never be the same. We were told that after the death of a loved one, you simply find a new normal in which to live your life without that special someone in your life. Shortly after Camden died, with the support of family and friends, we decided to start a fund at MUSC to help honor his memory. We weren't quite certain what that would entail when we reached our monetary goal; we just knew we wanted to help preserve his legacy.
In 2007, our lives were blessed again with our second son, Jackson. We had finally reached the point in our grieving where the fear of 'what if this were to happen again?' turned into a desire to experience the unconditional love we had felt for Camden. We were lost souls for a few years after Camden died, and while we went through the motions of life, we were not really living. Today, experiencing life through the eyes of a 5 year old has certainly changed our perspective to live life to the fullest.
Cami Meyer with her husband Dennis and their 5-year-old son Jackson after the unveiling of the Camden Scott Meyer Pediatric Lab
I respect individuals who are childless by choice, and my heart aches for those who are unable to have children they so desire. For anyone who has lost a child, there is a wonderful local support group called Compassionate Friends. At the time, being surrounded by others who experienced the loss of a child (at any age) is exactly what we needed. Our experience has taught us this: if you, a family member, friend or acquaintance experiences the loss of a child (especially miscarriage, stillbirth or shortly after birth) please acknowledge them! Say their child's name! It means the world to us. We are still proud to say, 'His name was Camden.' Ten years later, the adage that time heals does ring true, but our hearts still ache for a child who departed this world way too soon.
Jackson Meyer presents one of two adaptive tricycles donated by the Meyer family.
On July 6, our dream became a reality and we held a dedication ceremony for the Camden Scott Meyer Pediatric Lab in the College of Health Professions at MUSC. This facility will help foster rehabilitation services for children, allocate funding for occupational and physical therapy programs and researchers and support an annual camp called Camp Hand to Hands for children with hemiplegia.
The Meyer dedication plaque features the family motto: 'Small Steps Lead To Big Things.'
When we discovered all the wonderful services this pediatric lab will ultimately provide for so many children, we knew that our emotional journey in healing was coming full circle. It wasn't easy trying to wrap our thoughts around how to sum up all we've been through and what we had accomplished. Yet, our day arrived, and the sign outside the lab door says it all. On the plaque are Camden's footprints with our motto – Small Steps Lead to Big Things.
--Cami Meyer director of Student Life and Recruitment at the College of Health Professions