HUDSONVILLE, Mich.—Starr Morgan was a mom of two boys until she lost her youngest son last August. She says she will never be done grieving, but she needed to find a way to move on for her eldest son. She wanted to provide him the life he deserved, without being bogged down with constant grief.
She started to paint.
And now Starr is entering her work into ArtPrize. She wants to raise awareness and bring hope to parents grieving their children.
“Grieving the loss of a child is unlike any other type of loss," she said. "It’s not just like after a year you kind of move on with life. You never heal, because if you did you would go back to the person you were, and that’s not an option anymore. You change forever."
She will have a collection of paintings called "A Mother’s Grief." It will be located across the street from the B.O.B in the Courtyard Marriott hotel. Quotes from grieving parents will accompany the art.
She also has a Facebook page called Joy For Jayce. She seeks to help any other grieving parents, and looks for inspiration from others.
Starr and her husband always had trouble trying to conceive. They both had infertility problems. They were thrilled when they had their son, Quinn. When they tried for a second child, she found out she was having triplets. But during her pregnancy, she lost two of the three babies.
“I was afraid through the rest of the pregnancy that I would lose the third, but he was born. He was healthy, happy, and he was perfect."
A year ago, Starr's perfect baby boy passed away, just as suddenly as he arrived. It all started on the evening of Aug. 19, 2013.
The nightmare Starr would wake up to the next day actually began with her fondest memory. “We had a little dance party in our living room. We listened to music, and Jayce would always dance around the living room. He was squealing and having a ball. It was a perfect evening."
That night after they put 18-month-old Jayce to bed, Starr stayed up late applying for a job. She checked on Jayce a few hours later, but didn’t want to wake him from his slumber.
The family went to bed as happy as can be, but they would never be the same when the sun rose.
Morgan and her husband went to get Jayce in the morning, but they noticed he wasn’t moving. They picked him up and realized right away he wasn’t breathing, and his body was stiff and cold.
“I said to 911, 'I think my son is dying,'” said Starr.
Her husband told her he was gone, but she refused to believe her son’s life was taken. He was too old to have sudden infant death syndrome, and he had never been sick before. Her motherly instincts kicked in and she tried to perform CPR.
“I took Jayce and went into his room. I laid him on the floor, and as soon as I looked at him I knew he had been gone for hours. I couldn’t tilt his head back or part his lips."
Two month later, no one had any answers on what mysteriously took Jayce’s life.
“We just kept thinking we can never have another child, if a child can just die for no reason, with no warning."
Starr and her husband were actually trying to conceive their third child the month that Jayce died. However, that all went on hold, because of their fears after their son was taken from them.
“Sometimes I ask why us? Why did God want us to endure this?” said Starr.
However, they finally got an answer. Jayce had a heart condition that is virtually undetectable. Doctors told the family that even in a routine physical they wouldn’t be able to detect it, and even if he died in his moms’ arms, she would think he was just sleeping.
“The technical term is nodoventricular pathways of the conduction system. That means that the fibers inside the muscle of his heart weren’t connected properly,” said Morgan.
Jayce’s heart stopped in the middle of the night and, in a way, Starr said, hers did too.
“I had post-traumatic stress disorder. I still do from finding him. Our lives changed, and they will be changed forever."
Starr had another son to care for, Quinn, who was then five. So she had no choice but to move on. She didn’t want Quinn to think he wasn’t enough for his parents after their youngest son passed.
“Quinn not only lost a brother, he also lost the parents he knew. He lost our smiles that reached our eyes, when he told us something, he lost the parents that answer the first time instead of being preoccupied by grieving."
So three months later, she found comfort in a paint brush.
“When I started painting I had no idea what was going to come out."
What came through all her paintings were themes of trees, storm scenes, crying eyes, and funeral scenes, but the common theme in all of them was signs and symbols of Jayce.
“One of them it’s trees, and the branches kind of go into a heart. Then on one of the branches there’s an angel wing stuck in the tree."