Although he faced several medical challenges including Asthma, Allergies, Eczema and bouts
with MRSA and Swine Flu he stayed positive and had a love of learning. Many Sundays were spent as a
family learning time, building and experimenting on what we dubbed “Science Sunday!” We would make
visits to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo or stay home and watch Beakman's World or The Cosmos. Xander
wanted to become an inventor when he grew up.To create and to help where all he wanted to do in this world along with making as many friends as possible.
He made many good friends in school but above all else his favorite person to spend time with was his baby sister Kali. He was three years older but they acted and played together all the time. They would play Minecraft for hours together and he would teach her what he learned in school and sing learning songs with her. They butted heads as any siblings would but would often take her abuse without much complaint. She looked up to her big brother “Yander” and adored him.
As many kids do as he got older his interests turned to superheroes and reading. Xander was advanced for his age being able to read many sight words and he even count to 100 during his Kindergarten screening, impressing his future teachers. Throughout the year the school does testing to see where all the kids are to make sure they are not being left behind and to help challenge others.
Xander was recognized as being in the top 1% of kids in his age group in the country for his learning development. We never put pressure on him to learn, he just wanted to be the best so that he could provide help to other kids that were struggling.
Thursday May 7th, 2015 he went to school like any other day. We got up, had orange juice and cereal together. He gave me a hug, kiss and big thumbs up on his way to the school bus like every morning since he started Kindergarten and I told him to have a great day. After he got on the bus I caught my mind wandering just looking at the photos on the wall thinking how lucky I am to have a wife I love and two beautiful children.
Went to work, had a normal day until I got the fateful call from my wife. Answering the phone I thought Xander may have been talking to someone on the bus and forgot to get off like he had done a month or two prior. It was my wife Emily, frantic because she wanted me to know Xander was wheezing and was on the nebulizer but as I answered the phone he had just stopped breathing. I told her to get help, she used an EPIPEN we were prescribed and carried him to the door screaming while our three year old daughter cried out in horror. I called 911 while running to my car and rushed the half mile home in record time.
I got home and a neighbor was on the phone with 911 and I immediately started administering CPR. Police arrived just a minute later and ambulances and fire department moments later. He was rushed to Mercy Hospital and it took a very long time to regain a heartbeat, but they did, we had hope. He was life-flighted to Rainbow Babies and Children’s hospital in Cleveland. We rushed home to grab a few essentials for us and our daughter and made our downtown. It was then that we had to start making dreaded phone calls to inform family of the grim situation that we were facing. Shock and disbelief were some of the reactions and it was hard to admit even to ourselves that the outlook was not good. I had to let his teacher know that we wouldn’t be going to the farm with his class the next day as I was to chaperone the field trip as well. We knew that the ICU would be our home for awhile as we cried together as a family holding Xander's hands as he was hooked up to life support. Once family was all contacted I made my first post on Facebook asking friends and family for all the prayers and love that we could get to help us get through this challenge.
Word quickly spread and the story was shared. Many people across the country started sending us messages of hope and love. It was overwhelming so I continued to share updates as a way for myself to get through the situation as a type of therapy. That and it was easier to make one post instead of answering dozens of messages asking for updates. Minutes and hours went by and many wonderful and caring nurses and doctors came and went but there was no indication of him improving. Family traveled in to sit with us, to pray and talk to him. His teacher even stopped by after returning from the field trip to visit with him. She brought along Xander’s last school project, a poem and drawing they made for Mother's Day.
[ “I’ve made some flowers
With my finger and thumb
So you’ll have these memories
For all the years to come”
-Love, Xander. ]