As a child, I never had an imaginary friend. I played with my brother. He died 6 years before my birth. I grew up with his memory real and true. It shaped the corners of my mother's love. Filled the ends with a dread that was subconsciously injected into the tips of my thoughts in a way I cannot describe.
When I became a mother myself, the thought of losing a child would take my breath away. It brought back my mother's dread. The one she felt after I was born. The one that rose up like vile when I got measles at 6 months. And later on that year, when I had my one and only febrile seizure. She expected to lose me at any given moment and it wasn't until this past week that I realized that we had a slight disconnect during my infancy and early years.
I'm not sure if Mami ever lost her fear of losing me. I picked up the fear of losing her before I turned 5 so perhaps, she just transferred it to me without realizing it.
My brother Clenis died on this day 45 years ago. And it wasn't until I processed the information I learned this past week at the Global Issues Fellowship gathering that I realized the truth behind his death.
If you remember, I took part in this awesomesauce campaign called Blogust this past August. That earned me a seat at the table this past week and a moment to expand my knowledge and my commitment to what I can do as a Mami to ensure that no other Mamis lose their babies.
Some Facts I learned way too much about all of the different causes of the U.N. Foundation. In the coming months, I will share as much as I can with you. But for now, here are some facts about vaccine preventable diseases I learned about that had me going "whoa":
- One in five children lack access to the life-saving immunizations that keepÂ children healthy.
- Approximately 1.5 million children in developingÂ countries die each year of a preventable disease like pneumonia, diarrhea,Â measles and polio (that's equivalent to half the children entering kindergarten in the US).
- Too many numbers for you? Try this on for size: one child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine preventable disease.
What Is Shot@Life? Shot @Life is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation whose purpose is to educate, connect and empower Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Shot@Life concentrates on vaccines for 4 diseases: polio, pneumonia, measles and rotavirus.
Facts About Rotavirus Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infantsÂ and young children.Â Each year, more than half a million children under age five die as a result of rotavirus, and almost 2 million more become severely ill.
Why did I give you that fact? Forty five years ago today, Mami walked into the clinic where she had taken her child to get better only to be told that he was gone. And this sweetness, this bundle of love was taken from her even as her body produced milk to make him healthy and strong not understanding that he was gone.
My brother Cleni died of colerin negro. I've always wondered about that. This past week, I got to thinking and wondering about what that translated to. It took me a couple of searches after getting back home to figure out that Mami's baby died of rotavirus.
And I am making it one of my life's purposes to make sure that no other mom has to go through what Mami went through. We might have our differences from house to house in this country and in this world, but I think we all stand together as mothers who love our children. Every child becomes our own.
I invite you to get to know Shot@Life. And join me in ensuring we don't lose any more children to vaccine-preventable diseases. Because a Mami shouldn't have to leave this earth to get a shot at holding her baby again.
Disclosure:Â Â I was not compensated for this post, for my involvement in Blogust or the Shot@Life campaign. The United Nations Foundation provided transportation and lodging for the fellowship trip. All thoughts, opinions and heartache are purely my own.