Like so many mothers of healthy, cheerful toddlers, Jill Promoli McGee was not terribly concerned when her two-year-old son, Jude, awoke with a low-grade fever one morning last May.
Promoli McGee gave him Tylenol, which brought the fever down, then entertained Jude and his twin brother, Thomas, with blocks and robots until it was time to lay the boys in their side-by-side cribs for their afternoon naps.
When Promoli McGee, now 34, returned a few hours later to wake the twins, she found Jude motionless on his crib mattress. He wasn’t breathing.
“I started compressions and I called 911 right away,” she recalled. “I left Thomas in his crib and I ran out to the driveway to get help because I knew I was hysterical and I was going to need help.”
Neighbours on Promoli McGee’s Mississauga cul-de-sac took turns frantically performing CPR until paramedics arrived to whisk the red-haired, brown-eyed boy to the hospital. But it wasn’t enough. Jude McGee died on May 6.
For months, Promoli McGee and her husband, Craig McGee, 35, lived in the exquisite hell of not knowing what had killed their son.
Then, in August, they were tipped into a fresh sorrow when the coroner told them that Jude had died of the most prosaic of causes: the flu.
“Honestly, that was the first time I felt any anger about the situation,” Promoli McGee said. “It was a weird anger because it wasn’t directed at anybody, just at the situation. I felt really just sad and angry about it, because it is so preventable. And we know that.”