Stephen Ruggier

My 17-year-old son Stephen Peter Ruggier was a fit, healthy lad who was looking forward to becoming 18 – which was only twenty days away when he died. He died on 4th October 2004, and was going to celebrate his 18th birthday on the 24th October.

He was always happy and full of life. He was training to be a mechanic, and had just started his second and final year at college. He had already achieved his Level 1, which we are all very proud of.

It all started on the Saturday morning when Stephen said he did not feel well. On the Sunday the doctor came and said that Stephen had tonsilitis, and prescribed him with penicillin. By Monday, Stephen said he was a lot better, but he still had a sore throat. Everything seemed OK – he even told his mate James that he felt better. Monday evening, Stephen and James went for a car ride, which he loved to do. He came back early, about 9.45pm, and sat with me for a bit. He then decided to go and watch television upstairs.

His last words to me were, "I do feel better Mum" – and I assured him the penicillin was good stuff. With that he went upstairs, and I carried on watching television downstairs.

At about 10.30pm I turned everything off and went upstairs. As I got to the top of the stairs I thought Stephen had fallen asleep and left his television and light on, so I went into his bedroom. Stephen was facing the wall. He turned and looked at me and then turned back to the wall. I thought he was just settling for the night, so I turned off his television and then his lamp. Just a few seconds later I heard a snoring sound. My instincts made me go back and pull Stephen towards me to check on him. To my horror, Stephen had died – just like that.

I still don't understand why this happened. It has been just over a year since his death, and I still can't accept that this terrible thing has happened. I lost my eldest son in a split second, and it has broken the family. Coming to terms with losing your son is too much to bear – the pain is intense, it physically eats you up inside. A big part of me went when I lost Stephen – I would give anything to have him back.

We have been told his heart just stopped – it went out of rhythm causing Stephen to die instantly. Stephen has two younger brothers, Daniel and Jack. They both miss him desperately. We have all had our hearts checked, and we are all OK.

Stephen was the sort of boy who would do anything for anybody. He was so kind, caring and generous. A son any mother would be proud of, and I am very proud of Stephen. Learning to be without him is the hard part. One day at a time I have been told.

Stephen gave so much to others, and I feel I should share my story so that Stephen is not forgotten.