Courtesy photo Amber Noack said her son Aaydyn was a funny child, always happy and never sullen.
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Exactly one week after Amber and Brad Noack buried their infant daughter, tragedy struck again for the young couple.
Their 19-month-old son, Aaydyn Noack, died Wednesday from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a vehicle while playing in his grandparents’ driveway.
“We felt him take his last breath … He looked at me like ‘Momma help me,’” said Amber Noack, describing how she leaned over her injured son as he lay on the ground. “We heard him (gasp) and then he was gone,” she said, her voice growing faint.
Sweethearts since the eighth grade, Brad and Amber Noack had dreamed of having a family for years.
“Since I was 16, all I wanted was a little kid. We’ve been talking about having our own family since before we had Aaydyn,” Brad Noack said.
“I’ve always told Brad he was my heart and Aaydyn was my heartbeat,” Amber said, beginning to sob.
“I just feel like my heartbeat stopped.”
Now two years into their marriage and still mourning the recent death of their premature daughter Makenzi, the 20-year-olds are preparing to bury their son.
• • •
No place is comfortable for Amber and Brad Noack. They drift from their home in Texico to the homes of family members in Clovis.
Aaydyn is everywhere, but nowhere.
His photos cover grandma’s walls, his crayon scribbles adorn the walls at home and his toys lay where he left them.
“I keep waiting for him to wake up,” Amber Noack said.
Aaydyn was a funny child, always happy, never sullen, his mother said. They had to keep a close eye on him or he would strip off his clothes and run around.
“He liked to be naked. He was always running around naked with his dad’s shoes on backwards,” she said with a laugh.
He loved playing in the mud, playing in water, balls and toy guns.
Specially planted because of his love for tomatoes, Aaydyn helped his grandfather water the garden every morning and always had his hand out for a popsicle from “Ampa’s” freezer, which he would share with his cousin Jaylynn.
Amber and Brad remember their son’s version of a peace sign using his thumb and forefinger, the way he impishly called his father “Momma” to spark an exchange of “Not the momma,” and the way he would bump knuckles as a greeting.
Those are the memories they cherish as they prepare for Monday, when Aaydyn will take a place at the cemetery beside his sister, Makenzi, who was a near miracle pregnancy after two miscarriages.
The young couple said they don’t know what the future holds for them.
For now, they remember Aaydyn. They will worry about tomorrow later, Amber Noack said.
“We love our son. He was very loved by a lot of people,” Brad Noack said.
“We loved him and we miss him. We’re hurt. We’re hurt very bad.”
• • •
The family had gathered for supper at Amber Noack’s parent’s house in south Clovis as they often do throughout the week.
Aaydyn was playing in the dirt as he loved to do, Amber Noack said, loading rocks and dirt into his toy dump truck in the driveway while his cousins played nearby.
Amber Noack’s brother and fiancee, Robin Heinemann, were leaving to take him to work when their vehicle struck the child.
Amber and Brad Noack had just stepped into the house to grab the steaks for dinner when they heard Aaydyn’s 8-year-old cousin screaming his name.
What they found when they ran outside was every parent’s nightmare.
The children were frozen, screaming and crying.
Heinemann, who was driving, was collapsed on the ground screaming, “Oh, Aaydyn, I love you. This can’t be happening… No!”
“She just kept saying ‘I didn’t mean to Aaydyn, I love you,” Amber Noack said, recalling the chaos as she rushed to her son’s side.
Trained in CPR, Amber Noack began compressions and breaths, everything swirling around her as she hoped and worked.
“I was in shock (but) I knew I had to do it,” she said, her voice hoarse and strained.
Ambulance crews arrived and took over. Noack said responders and emergency room personnel worked on her son for an hour, but they were unable save him.
Immediate family, those that welcomed him into the world less than two years before, gathered around the 28-pound toddler’s lifeless body at the hospital to say goodbye, Amber Noack said.
Stroking his hands, his arms and his feet, they begged him to come back, begged him to fight.
“I told them no, you can’t take him, he’s still here,” Amber Noack said, remembering the moment hope was lost.
• • •
The Noacks said even though their pain is still fresh, raw and unbearable, they wanted to tell their story so other parents can know how fast a child’s life can be taken.
It only takes a second.
“People just need to pay attention and watch out. Things can happen so quick,” Brad Noack said, the tears muffling his voice.
And even in their darkest hour, they want it known that they forgive Heinemann.
“It’s not her fault, it was an accident,” he said.
• • •
Pain is rippling through the family, each remembering Aaydyn and trying to come to terms with his death in their own way.
“When I showed up there (that evening), he ran up and gave me a kiss,” Heinemann said remembering the happy way he greeted her and his uncle.
“I loved that boy, I truly did. It’s hurting me right now — it hurts.”
The family has expressed forgiveness, but Heinemann said she is giving them space to deal with their grief while she deals with her’s.
No citations were issued in connection with the accident, according to police.