Dylan's mother Beckie Ramsay talks about the day her son died and the effect it has had on her family.
July 3, 2011. The day that changed so many lives.
My husband John and I had woken up bright and early as one of our four children was in a football tournament. I went into my eldest son Dylan's room to open the curtains and let in some fresh air and could see it needed tidying. Dylan had stayed at a friend's the night before so I decided to give him a call. When he answered I could tell I had woken him up. I told him his room needed tidying and that he should be home for 2pm to tidy his room. He said he loved me and to wish his brother good luck at his football tournament. Little did I know that would be the last time we would speak.
My youngest Annie and her brother Josh stayed at home with their dad. Dylan arrived home just after 2pm and talked John into allowing him out for a little longer before he had to tidy his room. Dylan grabbed a towel and said he was going swimming.
I received two missed calls from an unknown number while I was at the football tournament. When I returned the calls a lady answered. She told me that she was with my husband. John came on the phone and explained that there had been an accident at the quarry and it was thought that Dylan was trapped. He said "get here quickly". I thought that maybe Dylan had fallen from the top of the quarry and was trapped somewhere on the cliffs and was injured. Still in a panic with thoughts of broken bones in my head I ran towards the car with my mum and stepdad close behind, and left my son Stephen playing in the tournament with friends.
"My husband screamed the words that no mother or parent should ever hear."
When we arrived at the quarry it was like something out of a movie. There were hundreds of people there and the road had been cordoned off. I saw my husband in front of the ambulance and I jumped out of the police car while it was moving. My husband screamed the words that no mother or parent should ever hear. He said "Dylan's dead". I screamed "No, not Dylan" and then collapsed. When I came round I begged to get in the ambulance with my son but was repeatedly told it would not be allowed.
The time came for us to identify Dylan's body. I was still expecting him to be cut, hurt, battered bruised, something. Before we were allowed into the mortuary we were handed Dylan's bag of belongings. His phone was going crazy with texts and calls. We tried to prepare ourselves, but how can you possibly prepare yourself to view your child's body? We walked in and Dylan looked as though he was asleep. He was perfect in every single way. I walked over with tears streaming down my face and grabbed hold of my baby boy. I hugged him, I kissed him, I ran my fingers though his hair. I held his hand and told him I was sorry for letting him down. I begged him to come back and told him we needed him at home. I lay my head on his chest and told him I loved him and forever would.
It's been nearly five years since the accident and time hasn't healed anything. If anything time makes it worse because every day you realise a little bit more that they're not coming home. For about six months after his death I was still cooking his dinner even though I knew it was just going into the bin. I still haven't washed some of his clothes because I feel like I can still smell him on them. I have got a t-shirt of his that I cry into. It hurts that I can't help my other three children or John. I can't make it better for them. It feels like I am existing rather than living. There are so many milestones that we have missed out on. When it was Dylan's graduation I went and handed out pictures of him to all of his friends to make sure he was a part of it. On what would have been his 18th birthday we held a party for his friends. Dylan is very much missed by lots of people.
Dylan was an amazing young man. He was loved by so many people. I have people contact me and say Dylan has helped them through some of their darkest hours. He loved life, he loved music and he loved doing things. He was a young man who I was so proud to call my son. To have had him for the 13-and-a-half years was an absolute blessing because we couldn't have wished for a better first born child. He was perfect in every way.
As a family we take each day as it comes. Some days it's not a day at a time, it's "let's just face this hour and then try and get through the next one". Nothing's the same anymore. Family occasions, family get-togethers, there's always someone missing. Every aspect of life is different without Dylan here, from waking up in the morning and not being able to wake him up for school, college or university, to when it's bed time and I'm saying goodnight to all the children and not having Dylan to say goodnight to. On birthdays and at Christmas we ask the kids what they want and they don't want anything because what they do want I can't give them.
We talk about Dylan all the time. He's very much a part of our family. It's had a massive effect on all of the children. Josh (14) looks very much like Dylan, acts a lot like Dylan and his way of coping is to try and achieve as much as he can to make Dylan proud. When we broke the news to Stephen (15) he just wanted to run. I think he felt that if he ran then it wasn't real. Annie (10) cries herself to sleep sometimes. They are all doing their brother proud. The hardest time for John and I was when Stephen and Josh reached 13 because we never had a child make it to 14 so we were overly cautious about what they were doing. It's made us closer as a family.
I lost so many friendships and family members after Dylan's death. I have got friends who cross the road rather than speak to me because they don't know what to say. I pretty much keep myself to myself now, whereas before I was an outgoing bubbly person.
After Dylan died I decided that I was going to go into schools and speak to kids and parents about the dangers of open water and so that's what I did. Within two weeks of his death I was in my first school and I have spoken to 34,000 children to date. The aim is to reduce water-related fatalities and to make sure that Dylan didn't die for nothing.
I endlessly research the dangers of open water and the effects it has on the human body. It has taken me nearly five years to build up knowledge and understanding and if I can share that with just one person who chooses not to take the risk then it is worth it.
Dylan was swimming from when he was eight months old so he was a confident swimmer. I live with the guilt and I will forever live with the guilt of not teaching him open-water swimming but I was unaware of the dangers.
Water safety needs to be as well known about as road safety. My advice for anyone thinking of going swimming in open water would be to stick to organised places, ones with a lifeguard.
Everything I do now is focused on making the world a better place because Dylan was in it. The elation that you feel when you have a child is the exact opposite when you lose a child. When you lose a child everything is snatched from you.
I didn't choose to live this life. I didn't choose to live without my son. That's the hand I was given and I have to ensure that Dylan's memory lives on.
Beckie has set up social media campaign Doing it for Dylan to raise awareness of the dangers of open water swimming.
Click here for more information and advice on how to stay safe in water.
Posted: 7/29/2016 8:03:18 AM