Today my baby would have been 21! Today is a day to reflect, cherish and honor Raymond David Stump. His short life was hard, but he was undaunted by the fact that he knew he was dying. Raymond was a brat, but he was a fun brat! He was not afraid to tell it like is was. He was true to his friends and family.
I often wonder what Raymond would be like today. How tall would he be? Would he have gone to college?
I look at his friends and guess that the answer to those questions are... 5'10", spikey hair, tatooed, pierced, edgy. Yes, he would be an engineer right now. With a band called R SINIST on the side.
But he would be true to whom ever he meets! Happy Birthday my angel in heaven!!!!
'Everybody loves Raymond,' the sign said
Boy who encouraged others to stay in school loses his battle with congestive heart failure
Haley Wachdorf News-Bulletin Staff Writer; email@example.com
Belen In the days since the death of Daniel Romero's childhood friend, Raymond Stump, Romero has found some comfort in the thought that Raymond, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a child, can finally be the athlete he always wanted to be.
"He's not suffering anymore, he's just walking around and running somewhere up in heaven, and I know that he can do whatever he wants," he said. "He doesn't have a disability anymore. I keep imagining him playing football like he always wanted to do."
Raymond Stump, 16, died around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning from complications of severe congestive heart failure resulting from muscular dystrophy. Stump, a Belen High School graduate, spent the weeks following the news of the severity of his condition telling other high school students to stay in school and follow through on their dreams.
Belen High School officials made sure he got his diploma, setting up a special ceremony at his bedside.
Romero, who met Raymond in their days as fifth-graders at La Merced Elementary School, said that Raymond's constant smile and joke-cracking made it easy to forget that he had a life-threatening illness, and, until this year, when his health began to deteriorate, Romero said it didn't seem real that Raymond's disease would kill him.
"You know, he didn't seem different at all," he said. "We never thought about it, we just pretended he was a normal person, which he basically was. But, later on, you know it's going to become a reality and you're going to have to deal with it. But they (doctors) said he would be in a wheelchair by the time he started high school, and when we started high school, he was just the same old Raymond."
After he was hospitalized and diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure, Romero said, Raymond made a point to explain the severity of his illness to his close friends.
"We talked about it once," he said. "It was me and other friends. We went to see him when he had just got back from the hospital and his mom left the room and he told us, he said 'It's only going to be, like, a few months,' and we were all crying, and he asked us if we wanted to be pallbearers. It was one of the hardest times we ever had."
Raymond's courage and his message got the attention of students and community leaders. In Belen, April 1 was declared Raymond Stump Day and celebrated with a block party at the Tastee Freez. In Santa Fe, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish read about Raymond and contacted him to talk about continuing his message. From April on, all across the state of New Mexico, people who heard about Raymond through newspaper articles called or wrote to him and his mother, Arlene, to encourage them and offer their prayers.
Thursday, Denish called to personally give her condolences to the Stump family. On Friday, the sign in front of the Tastee Freez in Belen said: "Everybody loves Raymond."
Arlene Stump said that her son's long ordeal ended gracefully and peacefully, which was, in itself, an answer to prayer; and he simply slipped from a deep sleep into death, surrounded by his family.
"He was holding my hand real tight, and I said, 'Raymond, I love you,' and he said, 'I love you, too,'" she said. "I think it was around 2:25 a.m. I felt the grip of his hand loosen and didn't think anything of it, but then, a couple of minutes later, I heard him take a couple of real deep, hard breaths and I called for the family that were there and we were there, for his last breaths. ... Raymond had asked me to ask everyone who was praying for him, he said, 'Mom, just now please tell them to pray for me to go home. I want to go home.' He kept saying, 'This is so slow.'"
Gloria Baca, who was Raymond's medical caregiver for years and became very close to him and Arlene, said on Thursday that she would most miss Raymond's sense of humor and fun, which he kept until the end. She said that, when he was younger, he always pestered her to let him drive her car down the road, and, once he was old enough to drive, he loved to take her "cruising" and to Sonic for a Coca-Cola.
"He would take me cruising, and then we'd get our Cokes at Sonic and he was always coming up with something," she said. "I'm single, and we'd go down Main Street and he would roll down the window and tell men in a car, 'Gloria wants to date you!' And I would say 'Raymond! Roll up the window!' He was just so full of life, so mischievous, so ornery. He was so funny, he made us laugh, up to the very end."
Being able to walk and leave the house was of the utmost importance to Raymond until the end, Arlene said, and the last time he left his house on the last day he lived, it was because he insisted on going to Sonic with Romero and other close friends.
"Raymond's big thing was that he always wanted to be able to walk up until that last day. He would say 'Grandpa, I can do it myself,'" she said. "And sometimes he would fall, but he said many times: 'If I can't walk, I want to die, I don't care if it's my heart, but if I can't walk, I want to die,' so there was a sense of relief that he was never totally bedridden. That would have killed his spirit."
Romero said that the last few days have brought home to him the reality of life without Raymond. It will be a life, Romero said, with a little less laughter.
"It's tough," he said. "It doesn't seem real. It's just weird to think of him not being here. I went to his house after he passed away and went into his room, and he wasn't there, and it was just hard. He was one of the funniest guys I've ever met. He was just so hilarious. Even if a situation wasn't funny, his laugh just made everyone laugh with him. He was just that kind of guy. I think that, in my selfishness, I want Raymond to be here right now with us making us laugh and talking. But I know that Raymond's in a better place."