Child Loss

She Knew She Was Dying……I’m Sure of It!

Many of you have been following the story about my sister’s death.  If you’re new to this blog, I’d suggest you begin here. Child loss is such a complex grief that we could spend hours discussing this pain every day and still come up with the same conclusion:  “Child loss is the worst pain that anyone will ever go through.  It can’t fully be explained in words — ever.  Losing a child is like having your heart broken into a million pieces!”

Carmella was diagnosed with asthma when she was six years old.  She had severe asthma — her attacks were brutal.  At that time, there weren’t as many medications available to help as we now have, so an asthma attack often meant a trip to the hospital to get immediate help.  Any number of things could trigger an attack — even exerting a little too much energy would bring on wheezing and a tightening of the chest making it so hard to get air into the lungs.  Of course catching a cold usually meant staying in the hospital for a week or more.  A cold often went into bronchitis, and bronchitis went into pneumonia.  Asthma is a word that my family grew to hate.  We hated it because we saw what it did to this little girl.  It ruled her life!  She either lived by the rules or she couldn’t breathe. 

The doctors remained hopeful, though.  If Mellie used extra caution eventually they believed she would outgrow the asthma.  So, we hoped.  We prayed.  If only we can get her into her teens then this misery will end.  She will finally be able to breathe!

When Mellie was twelve, she went to the preacher in our church (an Italian man by the name of Aniceto Sparagna) and she boldly told him she wanted to be baptized. Mellie didn’t just want to be baptized.  She  wanted to be baptized now!

As custom had it in the church, the preacher always had a bible study with a person before baptizing them to make certain that they understood the committment being made.  So, that afternoon Mellie and the preacher studied.  She kept telling him, “I want to be baptized NOW!”  She wasn’t waiting to study in two weeks or two days.  She insisted that they study that afternoon. She might have been little in size, but she was mighty in power!  She made her intentions clear!  “We can study, but I want to get baptized today!”

Mr. Sparagna was a brilliant bible scholar.  I honestly believe he thought my sister wasn’t ready to be baptized yet.  She was twelve, but due to the asthma her growth was stunted so she wore a little girl’s size 8 in clothing.  She looked about 7 or 8 years old — very, very tiny.  But, I know that something extraordinary happened on that day!

Forever in Our HeartsI will never know the exchange that went on between Carmella and the preacher, but I do know when they walked out of his office, he was holding her hand and he said, “This young lady wishes to be baptized today and she is ready!”

That very day my sister was baptized!  She was so happy!  Honestly, she looked like a little angel being immersed into the water.

Later on that night after a full day of so much excitement,  I asked her why she got baptized so fast.  We shared a bedroom, so we always spent at least an hour talking before falling asleep.  “You never told me you wanted to get baptized.  How come you did it now?  Why didn’t you wait until dad and grandmom and grandpop could have come to see you?”

“Because I needed to get baptized today. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I knew today was the day I had to get baptized.”  And, that was that.  She made it clear to me that she knew what she was doing!


Four weeks later Carmella Lucca, my sister and best friend in all of the world, had an asthma attack that was her worst ever.  She was taken to Hammonton Hospital and kept there for ten days.  She was sent home for one day — her thirteenth birthday.  Then a decision — the hardest decision my parents were ever faced with — was made. 

Mellie’s asthma attack was so severe that it left her weak and on oxygen for several days.  During that time the doctors told my parents that her heart and lungs were so damaged from so many asthma attacks that she could not survive one more spell like that.  So, upon the advice of the doctors,  a decision was made to send Mellie to live by the ocean in Atlantic City in hopes that some healing might occur and that she would live to see the time when she would “outgrow” the asthma.

We sobbed hysterically as we helped Mellie pack her bags to go stay at the Betty Bacharach Home by the Sea in Atlantic City – a place situated right on the ocean where she could smell the fresh salt air all day long. She looked so small and so alone.  Yet she was so brave.  God, was she brave!  I just know that the angels of heaven were standing at the big iron gate with her the day we said good-bye.

Every day with her away seemed like a month.  The days were horrible — nights were even worse.  We missed her so bad.  But, we held on to the hope and prayer that the salt air would heal her asthma!  We daydreamed constantly about the party we would throw her on the day she came home!

That day never came.  Six months and thirteen days later Carmella’s life ended when she had her final asthma attack. 

I believe she knew she was dying.  I believe with all of my heart she told our preacher she was dying.  I believe she planned her baptism “right now” because she knew the urgency of what was happening.  I believe she didn’t share with me because she knew I would not have known how to handle that news.  In fact, I still weep over her death.  I weep over the fact that she felt she couldn’t talk about what was happening to her.  I weep because I miss her so much.  I weep because she died away from home and away from all family.  I weep because she is not here and our family was never a complete family again after she died! 

That little girl with the big brown eyes and the beautiful smile was ready for heaven.  Was it a premonition?  Did she feel her body failing her?  Did God give her a peaceful understanding of what was happening?  We’ll never know for sure — not in this life.

But this I do know.  Losing a child leaves a huge hole in the middle of our world. The void is one that can never begin to be filled. Our lives are never, ever the same again.  A special part of me died the day Mellie died and that part of me will always be missing until the day we meet again in heaven.




  • Alycia Lem

    I believe they do know the day before my son Dakota died he asked his cousin why children have to die I think he knew it was coming I understand what you mean our family has not been the same since he died March 22,2008 and I miss him every day

      • Clara Hinton

        Donna, I’m so sorry. People don’t understand the severity of asthma. As you’ve just told us, it is still taking lives. Again, I’m so sorry.

  • Laura

    My 9 year old son began asking about his twin brother who passed away at birth. Only a few weeks after those questions, did my 9 year old son pass away from an asthma attack. I haven’t seen anyone else whose family has been devastated by this disease in the same way until I read this blog. It literally took my breath away. It has only been 9 months and 9 days since I lost my son. People think we have all of the answers now for asthma, but the attacks are still tragically vicious.

    • Clara Hinton

      Laura, I’m so very sorry for the loss of your sons. Even hearing the word “asthma” frightens me. You’re so right in calling it “vicious.” So many times asthma is brushed off today, but it still takes many, many lives every year. Again, I’m so very sorry.


    how very sad….and you are so right in leaves the biggest emptiest hole inside your heart and soul….that other people just can not understand….sorry for your loss…..and yes we will meet up with them again some day….i miss my son each and ever min. of every day….it hurts so bad and our family has never been the same and can’t he is not with us or part of our future…:(

  • christy

    I believe that they know. I have had several experiences that lead me to believe so. My son told me numerous times he would not live long, a dear friend told us he would not live to see his 21st birthday, and my aunt prepared all of her arrangements and had them out for the family. Extremely saddened but it is nice to know they are at peace.

  • Stephen


  • brenda

    I was taking care of my older brother who was dying of a brain tumor when my son died in 2007 he was 34 yrs old. I was 300 miles away from home. But I had come home abt a week & half before he died to just take a break & see my family. The day before I was to go bk to take care of my brother I had went to the store & was standing in line to be checked out & the most awful feeling just came over me & I nearly started to cry right there in the store but didn’t! I can’t describe it, it was as if
    I had to see all of my kids before I went bk. So I called my kids & ask them to go & have supper with Dad & me at a seafood place that I knew they all liked. Of course they started making excuses of why they couldn’t go but I told them u never know it
    might be the last time we see each other alive. So they agreed to come! When we were getting ready to leave outside I remember hugging each one but when I got to my son I looked up at him & told him how much I loved him & to please be careful & he just said Mom everything is going to be fine & then we left. I was holding back the tears & I still can’t explain why I felt that! But that was my last time I seen my son alive! A week later I received the phone call that parents never want to get, they told me he had died! I think God touched my heart that day & let me have one last time with him before he called him home I really do believe that with all my heart! I still miss him so much! He was my baby!

  • Angel

    Yes, my 5 year old daughter also knew. She left pictures that she had drawn of her and an angel at her school. When I visited her school and picked up her things I discovered the picture the night before we buried her. I also found a pic of sad faced angel looking at the ground with something in the ground in a small journal of mine that she had drawn. Her journals from school contain pics and Chinese characters ( she was learning Chinese) that also contained messages. She told me
    she was dying 15 mins before she passed….she died of myocarditis (sudden death). I’m heartbroken. I had her drawing photo-copied and put on thank you cards to everyone who expressed condolences. Everyone is shocked when they see the pics. She also told me 3 days before she passed that I was her best friend
    And that she loved me and she hugged me- I wish I could go back to that day!
    She passed Feb 12, 2013 – 2 days before Valentine’s day.

    • julie thronson

      my daughter drew angels with sad faces around a “tunnel” of spirals. Her sun and clouds had sad faces too. She had one angel going towards the center, or light, and it ascends at the 3:00 hour, the time she passed away. I also had Katie’s drawing photocopied and put on thank you cards. She died oct 7th

    • Tori Smith

      Prayers and {{{Hugs}}} Both my sister (11) and my daughter knew when their time was getting close. The best thing that happened was that when my beloved Grandfather died…it was my sister, who had passed 6 years before, who told me he would be OK and that she was with him as he passed.

    • Dee Dee Sheehan

      Oh Angel. I am so sorry for your deep loss. Your beautiful daughter was so precious and close to God. Bless you dear one, God bless you.

  • shirley robertson

    yes, I do believe they know….Our son Andrew was 13—strong, happy, healthy. Two weeks before his death we were in the car just the 2 of us(since Andrew has an identical twin we didn’t get alone time much) this day out of the clear blue sky he says…mom…promise me that when I die you will give my eyes to 2 different people to see….and my skin and hair to people that have been burned….promise !! I laughed and said yeah yeah…,10 days later returning home from a weekend trip he stopped breathing in my arms…we later found out that he had a tiny tear in the small intestines which caused sepis and squeeshed his heart until he stopped breathing…..because of the sepis there were only two things that could be used for transplant….both eyes and his hair and skin for burn victums…3 yrs later we learned that his eyes had indeed but successfully used for a child and a older lady and were SEEING fine….this was our blessing but oh how the pain lingers….its been 11 years and not a day goes by without pain….his twin will never be the same without him. Thank you sooo much for this site….on this site I have found my voice to say out loud what people no longer want to hear…I miss him !

    • Dee Dee Sheehan

      God bless you Shirley. I am so sorry for the incredible loss of your beautiful son Andrew. What a blessing he must have been to your family. He had a generous, thoughtful heart I see.

  • Linda Anderson

    Yes i also believe they know.I lost my 20 year old son 10/17/2010.His 20th birthday was the day befor 10/16/1990.My son had just left for college 3 hours away in august and came home for fall break and to celabrate his 20th birthday.He passed away after we had pizza and cake for his birthday.He never woke up.He had a undetected heart disease called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.He was always so healthy and this was never detected.We are all heartbroken forever.When my son was 13 he drew a pic with tombstones in the back and 1 had his name on it with the year 2010.I never found the pic but remember saying when he drew it why would you write that your only going to be in your 20s.He said its only a picture.But he also would always say i dont want to get older.When he would make fun of my husband going bald my husband would say you will be going bald 1 day too.He would reply no i wont im never going to be that old.But we never in a million years would think this would happen.He also would say i cant see myself getting older.Child loss shoouldnt ever have to happen.Our family will never be the same.He left his dad and i and 4 sisters and 4 nephews behinde.God he is so missed in our life.

  • Dee Dee Sheehan

    Thank you for sharing your story about your sister Mellie. What heartache you had and will have for your dear sister. I too have an eternal focus that is stronger than ever as I look forward to being reunited with my 21 year old daughter Claire. Jesus welcomes us to our continued eternal life where sickness, sorrow, pain, and evil no longer exist. Thank you for being committed to this compassionate ministry. God richly bless you.

  • Valerie Hailstone

    Thank you everyone, for sharing your story. I want to and need to share my story. I just haven’t the strength yet. You have all shared exactly what we are all going thru. and no-one can know this until they lose a child. My son, that I lost, was from a first marriage. I have a daughter from that marriage also who is having a very hard time. I try to be strong for her. she is hurting so badl. My kids now and my husband were not close to him at all. So I live this awful nightmere alone and try to keep it inside. My hair is falling out, I have aged 10 years and I am so lost. I was thinking about seeking prof. help, then I came across this blog. Thank you Clara, and others I feel this will save me. I walk anywhere and everywhere looking and thinking I see my Son. I am Lost. Accepting this and the blame and guilt, I cannot get past this point.