By Amanda Loughrey
Two months ago I lost my wonderful son Craig. Feb. 9 is his birthday and he would have turned 8. He had been looking forward to this day since school started, asking me frequently how much longer until his birthday. At times, even grumbling because it wouldn’t get here faster.
These past months have been heartbreakingly hard for our family. I miss Craig every minute of every day. His memory is everywhere in our home. Our once rowdy trio of brothers is much quieter now. The dinner table feels empty without him at his place.
I am overcome with rage at times that my son died because of carelessness. Then, I remember that Craig wouldn’t have wanted me to be like that. He never liked it when I was mad or upset.
News happens everyday, sometimes a story hangs on for a week. Occasionally, we might get an update on a story a month later. If there is one message that I wish everyone would remember from Craig’s story it is just how special he was.
There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t make me smile or do something nice for me. He had an autism spectrum disorder and things like playing with other kids, a normal schoolday, and little frustrations in life were a constant struggle for him. He so wanted everything he did to be perfect.
I would tell him often, “Just do your best Craig! It doesn’t have to be perfect.” I smile when I think of how he would often be doing a task and become frustrated, then look at me and say, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, right mom?”
Autism is a growing problem in our country – with an estimated 1 in 88 children being diagnosed with some form of it. Chances are if you don’t know someone affected by autism, you will.
As money for our schools is cut, it is children like Craig that are affected – kids that so desperately need the support and services that they get.
My life is my family and children, but my life revolved around Craig – doctor’s appointments, therapy, school, advocating that he got the services that he needed, and fighting with insurance companies to get them to pay for everything.
The progress that we saw in Craig this year was amazing, and while I am sad that our journey ended, my heart is overflowing with how proud I am of Craig and our family. Craig taught me so many things – patience, perseverance, unconditional love, and appreciating the simple things in life.
Please know that we are only one family. All across America there are thousands of families faced with the same challenges of raising a child with special needs and it continues through adulthood.
What Craig wanted more than anything was a big birthday party with lots of kids. I never gave him a huge one, because I knew that he couldn’t have handled all the noise and social interactions.
I am confident that today Craig is having his big party with lots of kids and family members that we have lost. The difficulties he experienced on Earth are gone, and he is having a blast.
I urge each of you – when you are out in our big world and see a person that looks or acts differently then “the norm” – don’t laugh or judge. You don’t know their story. Wouldn’t it be a boring life if we were all the same? It is our differences that make the world a beautiful place.
Happy birthday, Craig. We love you with all our hearts.
Craig Allen Loughery died in early December from injuries suffered when his father Joseph’s gun accidentally discharged in the cab of his truck while they were in Mercer.