The Day My Child Didn’t Die

Something happened today, and I felt the need to share…

Not so long ago, all my boys went to the lake in Tennessee and left me here for a solitary weekend filled with work and writing.

This was their view.


And this was mine.


I’m not sure why I thought this backdrop would be better for writing.  But, hey–at least there was silence.

There was something in my heart that I needed to get out–it’s something that happened over 4 years ago that has been trapped inside of me all of this time–but all of a sudden, I felt the urgency to write it down and get it out on paper.

I initially thought God brought it to my mind so that I could share it with all of you.  But something happened when I wrote it down.  I cried. I bawled. I laid most of a day in the fetal position. Because the resurfacing of that moment proved too much for my heart and my thoughts and my overextended mommy brain.

As it hit me tonight, as tears stream down my face for very different reasons, I knew that it was all so that I could have this proud moment.  I’ll get to that.


Hi, my name is McKenna Hydrick, and I’m the mom of Kayden McCall Hydrick, who is seven and a half going on crossword puzzles and Everybody Loves Raymond.


I don’t take that statement lightly–because there was this brisk Spring Wednesday in April 2011 when that almost changed.

I was nine months pregnant with Sawyer, our second child.  McCall was not yet diagnosed with EoE. I was nesting. Daddy was shift working, per usual.  I cut grapes. I remember cutting grapes, right?

Truthfully, I cannot reveal the details that lie bare on the journal page.  It’s too intimate, too heartbreaking to relive again.

But the gist is this.

He choked. Like really, really choked on that grape on his plate.  Maybe his throat closed up from the disease we didn’t quite know he had.  Maybe it was a freak accident.  Maybe it was something else.

But he stopped breathing, and I froze. All I could do was call 911 and scream.  I eventually pulled his convulsing body out of his wooden high chair and to my side, away from my nine month pregnant body, and did what I saw people do in movies.

Instinctively, his body turned horizontally and started flipping as he gasped for air. I physically beat him until the tiny culprit shot across the room onto the rug I’d soon get rid of.

A moment. One more moment.  One trip into the bedroom to make the bed.  One more switch of the laundry and this story I’m writing could be a very different one.

As he was in my arms, I remember clearly time slowing down.  And this is something weird to describe–because I can still remember the sequence of events that went through my head, and how it felt like an hour.  It felt like one giant pause button that took me to the unmentionables….But those revelations fueled my physical and mental strength to be the mom McCall needed in that moment.

Minutes later, the room was filled.  Police officers. Neighbors. Friends. I remember a police officer giving McCall a piece of green gum.  And it’s the last time I can ever remember him eating gum.

He was instantly better, but I wasn’t. I lay lifeless on the same rug that only moments ago was the pedestal for the very fruit that almost changed our lives.  Is it now a coincidence that it’s one of the only foods that keeps him alive? Grapes–which give him grapes, raisins, and oil–are now one of the largest blessings to him.

Two days later, we had a house fire.

Three days later, we had a newborn.

Shortly after, we had a new diagnosis.

One year later, we had another newborn.

A few months later, we had another diagnosis.

Since then, we’ve had more hospitalizations and surgeries than I can count.

But my oldest son McCall didn’t die that day.  And it’s the reason when you meet me, you’ll see a small piece of a long life lived in my young hazel eyes.  It’s the reason I hug him a little too long, I brag a little too much, and love a little too hard.

And it’s also the reason I tell this story.  And all the other stories I will tell–because I know God has given me this gift.  These three gifts.


And the stupid disease. And the absolutely heartbreaking moments. And the days where I’d rather give up.

You know why?

Because without those moments, the sun’s shine wouldn’t mean as much. God’s help in time of trouble would be something I took for granted.  The gift of each day would be wasted.  I would rely on myself too much and carry more than God intended for me to bear.

He’s a good, good father. And he’s writing our stories.  May we embrace them?  May we see that God is using us–YES, us–to shed light on his mysterious wonder?  May we see that He loves us in the realm of FOREVER?  His beauty is unmatchable, his comfort unexplainable.

He’s why I wake up. And why I close my eyes. And why I am thankful for grapes. And for green gum.  And time slowing down in moments that should have created panic.

He’s the maker of all things.  And one of those things is my McCall. My sweet, sweet McCall.


So today I unapologetically shout from the rooftops that this responsible yet forgetful sweet spirited child McCall is number ONE in the entire second grade for Reading/Language Arts according to his standardized test scores.

Brillant!  Brilliant I say!!!!

Seriously, can you feel me beaming? I’m the girl who once took 18 hours of English at a time because I wanted to.

He’s a beautiful soul who has to miss anywhere from 20-30 school days for hospital visits–and is not only on track, but ahead and gifted and inspiring.

He loves to create recipes and cook.  He takes care of his two little brothers and enjoys making their breakfasts in the morning.  I know, right??

This summer he overcame his fear of swimming, and now with fall coming on, he’s loving basketball and learning about magic and writing stories for no reason other than to find cool character names.

He’s my Kayden McCall Hydrick.  He’s the gift that God has given me each and every day.  I’ll never get tired of his face, because it’s here in front of me.

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Y’all–our children are miracles.  He’s more of one than I can even write about.  Everything about why he is even here–my unplanned baby–is a mystery to me.  But God has and is weaving his story for the good of His kingdom.  I know firsthand that this child has brought people to their knees before God.  I know that his spirit and his faith through a lifelong illness has strengthened those of our friends and in our community who follow his story.

Oh thank you Jesus for allowing me to witness this life unfolding before me.  And for those test scores. Seriously! 😉


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