Jamahl Samuels

Hi, my name is Rachael Samuels, and on the 3rd September 2003 my mother passed away at the age of 42, due to breast cancer.

I was 26 years old and my son Jamahl was 8 years old. I'm an only child and losing my mom was the worst thing that could ever happen to me – well, that's what I thought at the time – I was absolutely devastated.

Me and Jay, my son, (my only child also) found it very difficult without her – she was like a mother to Jay. I felt lost, but as time went on I was beginning to accept it and manage without her.

Then on the 20th March 2008 my life changed forever – my beautiful 13 year old son Jamahl Samuels passed away.

It was just a normal day. Jamahl had broken up from school for his Easter holidays. It was Thursday, tomorrow was Easter Friday.

I came home from work at about 4pm, happy because I also had a few days off work for Easter and planned to relax and enjoy my time off. Jamahl was lying on the settee watching the television as normal, ""How was work mom?"" he asked; ""How was school Jay?"" I asked – just as we normally did.

I went straight into the kitchen and started to cook dinner. Jamahl was still lying on the settee and I interrupted him and sent him to the local shop to buy some cat food and a newspaper. Off Jay went to the shop, and when he came back gave me the newspaper and fed our cat, Tara.

He came into the kitchen to me and said ""I'm playing outside for a bit mom"". ""OK"" I said, and I watched him through the kitchen window in the back garden.

I remember The Weakest Link was on the television. I finished dinner, turned the oven down and went into the living room and sat down for a bit – thinking Jay was playing outside still. I then noticed Emmerdale was on, and thought it funny that Jamahl hadn't come back in yet for his dinner, as he's normally hungry way before dinner's ready.

So I went to the back door to look for Jamahl outside, but I noticed that his trainers where inside by the door, which would suggest that Jay must be inside. I thought that was strange, as I didn't hear him come back inside, and he was being very quiet. I then went upstairs into his bedroom, but as I was climbing the stairs it felt a bit strange because I couldn't hear anything or feel any presence.

I pushed open his bedroom door which was slightly ajar, and to my surprise Jay was in his room lying on his bed, as if he was asleep.

""Jay, Jay"" I called, but I got no response. I thought that Jay was just messing about and pretending to be asleep (he's a practical joker), but when I looked at Jay's face properly I knew there was something not right. His facial expression just seemed a bit too different. In my fear I then screamed ""Jay!"", expecting him to jump out of this deep sleep – but still nothing.

I touched his arm and it felt different. At this particular time I was thinking in my head ""What on earth is going on? Why is Jay lying there looking like that?""

I don't know how but I managed to get downstairs where my partner was. I shouted to him ""There is something wrong with Jay, I don't know what!"" He ran upstairs – I stayed downstairs as I couldn't bare to go back upstairs until Jay was normal again.

I heard my partner shout ""Call a ambulance"". I called 999 and tried my best to explain to the operator that my son wasn't breathing. I couldn't speak properly, because my mind, my body, my everything was in shock. I felt like I was about to awake out of a unbearable nightmare.

The operator assisted my partner over the phone, and gave him instructions for CPR. From downstairs I could hear my partner upstairs giving Jay the instructed CPR. I kept shouting to my partner from downstairs ""Is he OK now?""

I could hear in my partner's voice that something was seriously wrong. I couldn't bare it anymore so I waited outside for the ambulance – I phoned again to beg them to hurry up. When they turned up I thought ""Good, Jay will be OK now"".

The paramedics went straight upstairs and the next thing I remember was seeing Jay being picked up manually (no time for a stretcher) and taken out my front door into the ambulance. The ambulance didn't drive off straight away – the paramedics where just working on Jay in the ambulance. All the neighbours were out asking me ""What's wrong with Jay?""

""I don't know"" I said, pinching myself to check this was actually happening to me.

The paramedic said to me ""Your son's very poorly"". ""What do you mean my son's poorly? What's wrong with him?"" I asked in my confused state.

I had thought Jay was playing outside. At what point did Jay come back inside? And why would he have gone upstairs into his room? Why didn't Jay come into the living room to me?

The next thing I was in a second ambulance behind Jay's, on our way the hospital. That was the longest and worst journey of my life – I shall never forget it.

At the hospital there was a crew of staff waiting and they took Jay straight inside. I followed and watched in horror as they continued to work on him.

""What's wrong with him?"" I asked.

A nurse came to me and asked me some general questions, which I answered, but no-one could answer my question ""What's wrong with him?""

I could see them working on Jay and I could see that Jay was not responding. From home to now, Jay hadn't responded once, so I looked at the doctors and nurses and asked them ""Is he dead?""

""We're trying to find out what's wrong with him"" they said.

A doctor came up to me and asked if I prayed, because she suggested that I say a prayer. Then another doctor came up to me and asked if I wanted to be with him and hold his hand.

""Is he dead?"" I asked again. No answer, just ""We're trying to find out what's wrong with him"".

I was then taken into a family room. The doctors followed us into the room and confirmed it all – I just knew it was bad news – ""Yes he's dead, he's gone"".

Dead? How? Why?

I'm still asking these questions today, with still no answer. The post mortem showed no cause – inconclusive. Jay's heart was removed and sent to London to be checked for abnormalities, but the report found no abnormalities, so the reason for my son's death remains unknown.

We had to attend an Inquest which was just to confirm Jay's details – name, date of birth, etc – but still no answers or cause of death was given.

They say it was 'Natural Causes' – how can it be natural causes when he's only 13 years old? Something had to make Jay's heart stop.

Jay was a healthy boy, very active. He played football for Romulas Football Club in Sutton Coldfield, and also played for Handsworth United; Becon Colts and Kingbury High School.

Jamahl loved life. He loved having fun – theme parks, music, football, with me, with his family. He was very very mature for his age, and we would often forget that he was the child and I was the parent (he gave good advise). He was very quick witted and always had an answer for everything. He was so popular and had many friends – all different ages, sizes, genders and races – my son didn't discriminate, everyone was his friend.

He was a very caring child and loved animals. Jay was just a special child who had an infectious personality and I was often praised for his good manners and behaviour.

Jamahl's death has made me realise that anything is possible – anything can happen at anytime; never take life or people for granted.

Planning a funeral for my 13 year old son was the hardest thing ever. Picking a coffin, deciding what hymns to sing – it was so surreal, I should be planning his birthday party not his funeral.

Jay was my son and also my best friend. I had jay when I was 17 years old so we grew up together. People would often be shocked that I was his mother – mistaking me for his sister, not his mom (Jay loved it). Without Jay I'm lost and confused. I don't yet know why my son died so I cannot accept his death. Its hard, very hard, the nights turn to day and the days turn to night.

Jay's death was a real shock to all who knew him. He was a very popular boy – there are numerous Internet tributes on Bebo, myspace, YouTube, etc – its amazing.

Jamahl's school has been so supportive – his teachers and his school friends have been a comfort, they have done so much. His school friends have said that school just isn't the same without him – his infectious laugh, his jokes, his funny sayings, his overall vibe.

Due to Jamahl's heart being taken away tested and then returned, his funeral wasn't until five weeks after his death. It was held at Aston Parish Church, Birmingham, with over 700 people attended. Jamahl was buried with his Nan, Yvonne Samuels, at Heath Lane cemetary.

Jamahl had tributes read by his school friends, headmistress and football coach – and a his cousins sang a song. Jamahl's favourite song at the time of death was ""Superstar"" sung by Lupe Fiasco, and that is what he was – a superstar.

I'm writing this account on Jamahl's computer, which he lived on. Its strange me sitting here without Jay hanging over my shoulder telling me what to do.

The coroner who dealt with Jay's Inquest gave me some leaflets about CRY. In about seven weeks I will be called to a closing Inquest, which hopefully will have come to a conclusion, which I think will be sudden arrhythmia death syndrome, natural causes.

I've been reading a lot about SADS and CRY, and realise that I'm not the alone. Other parents and families have been through the same experience. It seems as though death is instant – there's often no chance of resuscitation or response, the person just dies.

As a parent of an active youngster, I wonder why I was not aware of this? Shouldn't there be more awareness of this? I never in a million years expected this could happen to Jay.

I intend to do more with regards to this sudden death syndrome. I'm going to make parents more aware of this, especially those with active youngsters.

Jamahl did not die for nothing.

Rachael Samuels