My son Anthony Sterling Rodgers, who I called “Lali,” died in my arms on the night of January 11, 2005. He was exactly six months old.
In terms of his eyes, they were blue.
I have never felt such fierce love as I did for Lali. He was a pure spirit of love.
It was my second day of work at Beyond Shelter and I had stayed late to meet the board of directors. It was also one of the rainiest periods in Los Angeles history and I struggled to drive home in near-hurricane conditions.
Twenty minutes before I got home, I spoke to Lali’s father Alan on the phone. He had just fed Anthony, he said, and was putting him down to sleep. Earlier that day my daughter Meredith had gotten sick with the flu at school and Alan had packed Lali in the car, driven down the hill, and brought her home.
When I came in from the garage, Meredith was on the couch in the living room. She got up and was quicker than me to get to the bedroom.
Alan was downstairs in his office.
Why had Alan put the baby in —
I can see this in my mind but it’s very difficult to say.
Meredith found Lali. He was in her arms and she said, “Mom — “
Mom. I just had dinner with her. I love her so much.
He was unconscious and there was putty-colored milk all over his little face.
I can’t describe what it was, but I put him on the floor and started to breathe in his mouth.
I tried so hard to clear his airway but I couldn’t. I pressed his little chest. I breathed in his mouth. Our neighbor ran in. She took over.
I heard the ambulance. The sirens stopped. Our front door was wide open and I could see the lights flashing in the hallway. Red white red white red white —
I screamed for them.
They were on the wrong side of a jerry-rigged fence that divided the two halves of our short street in Woodland Hills. They had to drive all the way down winding streets and come back the other way.