Aaron Maybin was 6 years old and excited for his mom and dad to come home from the hospital with his newborn baby sister. Instead, his father, Michael, returned with heartbreaking news, the kind no child should ever have to hear.
Maybin's mother, Connie, died from complications after giving birth to a stillborn baby girl on Jan. 2, 1995. Doctors were able to revive the infant, who is named after her mother and is now 13 years old.
Maybin, Penn State's All-American sophomore defensive end, has gone on to enjoy a stellar athletic career. He vividly remembers the details about the worst day of his life and described those events and how they shaped him as a person during an exclusive interview with the Mirror on Friday.
Aaron Maybin, an All-American defensive end, vividly remembers the day his mother died. (Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich)
IN HIS OWN WORDS
"The night before it happened, I was at my grandmother's house on the west side of Baltimore. My parents were both at the house talking about, 'We're about to go into the hospital so she could have the baby.' My mother said, 'You're going to have a little sister,' and I was excited.
"My grandmother had a bunch of little toys at her house, so I was preoccupied with all that. I was like, 'You all can go ahead now. I'm cool. I'm with my grandmother.'
"I remember I kissed my mom goodbye, kissed my dad goodbye, and then they left.
"I woke up the next morning in my grandmother's bed, and my grandmother wasn't there. I woke up and looked out the door of my grandmother's room and saw a lot of people, a couple family members and a lot of people from our home church. They were just standing around, and a few people were crying.
"At that point, I'm thinking they're crying because they're happy. I was thinking that my parents are there and my baby sister is home.
"Somebody noticed that I was awake and sitting up in the bed, and they alerted my father that I was awake. My father and a couple other people from the church and a couple of my family members came in the room. My father was all beat up. He was in pretty bad shape.
"At that point, I kind of noticed that something was up. I could tell that everything wasn't right.
"My father sat down on the bed next to me, and I'm asking him, 'Where's mom? Where's my sister? What's her name?' He stops me from talking, and he starts explaining what had happened.
"He said, 'We went into the hospital, your mom went into labor and she began to deliver the baby. She began to have some complications.' He said, 'Your sister was born. She was stillborn. She was born dead.'
"He told me my mom was also in pretty bad shape when my sister was born. So they went to work on my sister and started to reviver her, and they were successful. It took a while. The doctors were split; their manpower was split between both my sister and my mother.
"My mother eventually went into cardiac arrest, and she passed away.
"They tried to revive her. They tried a few times to bring her back, but it didn't work.
"At this point, as my father is telling me all this, I had broken down and had pretty much lost it.
"It was a real tough time. I really don't remember too much from the rest of that day because I was just in another state of mind.
"Everything happened pretty fast. They had the funeral, and after that funeral I couldn't enter another funeral for years. I think I was a teenager before I attended another funeral because it was just too difficult for me."
SUBHD: A blessing arrives
Maybin suffered from nightmares for years and said he "acted out for a while."
"It was a really extremely tough time," he said. "It was just me and my father and an infant that's never seen her mother, never been held by her mother, never experienced any kind of affection or anything like that toward her biological mother.
"As a man, looking back at it now, it's a really tough spot to be in. All we really had was each other."
Then God, as Aaron said, sent his family a blessing. Her name is Violette, and she married his father.
"I have never called her my stepmother," Maybin said.
He considers Violette his mother, and he calls Connie his birth mother.
"I thank God every day when I wake up that I have her in my life," he said. "She's really been the glue that's held this family together. She's a wonderful woman."
The kind of woman, Maybin added, who came into a tough situation but gave all of herself to her new family.
"A lot of stepmothers, as a female when you come into a situation where you meet a man and he has two kids and one of them was as rowdy as I was at that time, it's pretty tough to handle," Maybin said. "But she never, not once in my life, ever discouraged me from expressing my feelings.
"I probably talk more with my mother now about my birth mother than I do with anybody. She's always talking to me about her, and she's had dreams about my birth mother. She's always encouraged me to give as much of what I have of my mother to my sister just because she's never known that. My mother now is the only mother she's ever known."
SUBHD: Daily reminder of his mom
His little sister is now in middle school in the Baltimore area, and Aaron can't believe she's growing up so fast.
"She's about to be in high school," he said with noticeable big-brother anxiety.
"Me and Connie are very close. A lot of people, they talk about how much we look alike. People call her my twin. She's beautiful. She's becoming a beautiful young woman. When I look at her, each and every day I see she looks more and more beautiful, and she looks more and more like her mother.
"I have pictures of our birth mother, a lot of pictures of her. When I look at pictures of my mother when she was my sister's age, honestly, if I were to ask one of my friends to tell the difference, it would be pretty hard.
"Even though she's never known her birth mother, just her little mannerisms that she has and little actions she does, it's so much like her mother it's unbelievable."
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and email@example.com.