Thursday, June 3, 2010

More sadness...

If it wasn't for the fact that I always prepare my weekly blog posts on the weekend, you would not have heard from me the past few days. When I posted my blog on Sunday, I said I was looking forward to our party/cookout and that all I had to do was shower, get some ice, and wait for people to show up. We were really looking forward to having a fun day. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be...

Our party was supposed to start at 2:00 p.m. Sunday. Around 12:30, Jeremy and I took a ride to the store. As he was walking out of the store, I saw him on his cell phone - when he opened his car door, I heard him saying "I will be there in 10 minutes". I was like "where do you think you're going? Our party starts in an hour!" and he just looked at me and said "Jenn, apparently my father and Maryann were in a bad motorcycle accident and a social worker from the hospital called my grandmother. I have to go up there." Maryann is his dad's wife, they were married the same year we were (1993) and have been together for several years longer than that.

A million different things flew through my head but the very first was "NOT AGAIN!" I simply couldn't believe that we were going through more heart-break. Jeremy brought me home, as we were expecting company to start arriving, and my good friend Robbie was already here waiting for us. I just burst into tears as soon as he hugged me. Jeremy left and went to the hospital to find out how bad it was, and Robbie and I just sat down at the picnic table in shock. Suddenly, a yellow butterfly flew through my yard right in my line of vision. I laughed through my tears and told Robbie the story of the yellow butterflies, and he had goosebumps. I took that as a sign that everything would be OK.

The rest of the day and week is kind of a blur, a very sad blur. Unfortunately, Jeremy called me a couple hours after dropping me off that day to let me know that Maryann did not survive and that his father (Richie) was in critical condition and may or may not survive. I was a mess - and it actually turned out to be good that my sister and a few friends were over, because I really needed the support. I felt bad that people kept showing up and it was not the party we had intended it to be, but I have a good group of friends and they all understood and felt so bad for us.

It turned out that both of Richie's legs were broken - the femur on the right leg, the tibia and fibula on the left. He had several broken ribs and a punctured lung. Jeremy said he was talking when they took him in, and kept asking about Maryann but at that time, no one was sure what happened to her. They had both been taken to an area hospital near where the accident took place, but Richie was air-lifted by Life Flight helicopter to UMASS in Worcester, which has a trauma unit. We had taken that as a good sign, thinking that must mean that Maryann was OK enough to stay where she was. :( When Jeremy was finally told that Maryann was dead, he could not face his father again and not tell him, but the doctors and nurses didn't want him to say anything to him because they were afraid his condition would worsen. Jeremy came home that night completely exhausted, both physically and emotionally.

They tried to do surgery on Richie's legs Sunday night, but his vitals kept going down and they thought he may have had a heart attack. It turns out he did not. Like I said, the rest of the week is just a blur, I couldn't tell you what happened when for the most part. It's been a nightmare and just when I think I can't possibly cry anymore, the tears start flowing again. I feel like a zombie half the time - I will go hours without crying or feeling much of anything and then - BAM! All of a sudden I have a thought or hear a song and something triggers it and I find myself sobbing uncontrollably.

Richie was heavily sedated for the first few days after the accident - the trauma team didn't want to attempt surgery again until he was stabilized. However, despite his sedation and breathing tube, every time we went in to see him his eyes would open and he would squeeze our hands and tap our arms with his fingers - and his eyes spoke VOLUMES. We kept saying "We love you" and he'd nod his head repeatedly and we'd say "We know you love us too" and he would keep nodding. It was terrible. He kept trying to talk and he mouthed or tried to mouth "Maryann" a few times - it was just killing us. We knew that he knew that if she was OK, we'd be saying "don't worry, Richie, Maryann is OK" - but we also knew that we had to tell him, he had to hear it. The hospital social worker had wanted to wait until the breathing tube was out, so that he could express his grief, but with the delay in surgery and possibility of the tube not being removed for several more days, everyone agreed that it just had to be done. So I think it was on Wednesday when the doctors turned his medication down so he would be lucid enough to really understand what was being said. Jeremy and his 2 sisters (Britney, age 28, and Kelsey, age 24), went in with a nurse and the hospital social worker and Jeremy said "Dad, there is no easy way to tell you this and I am so sorry, but Maryann died in the accident." Tears started flowing from his eyes, and it was just awful. I felt so very badly for my husband, but I knew he'd feel better once he told him. It had been killing him all week, he knew he wanted to know - if you could have seen the way he was looking into our eyes...

Later that night, we brought the kids up to see him for the first time. We had a long talk before we left to try to prepare them for what they were going to see, but it's really hard to prepare a person to see someone you love like that. We could only go in 2 at a time, so Jeremy took Trevor in. Trevor walked over, held Richie's hand, and burst into tears, the poor kid. I am just bawling typing this - my poor babies... they've been through a lot in the past year and they've seen their parents and people they love go through a lot. Anyway, they had a good visit and then Jeremy told him that Cassidy and I were coming in next.

Cassidy and I walked in, and his head was turned towards the door with his eyes open, waiting for us. He immediately mouthed "I love you" and we said "we love you too" and held his hand. Then he kept trying to say "what is that?" and pointing. I kept guessing, but he was shaking his head no, the only thing I could figure out was that he was pointing to Cassidy, when I said "Cassidy?" he nodded his head yes! But his freaking blood pressure was going up, he was getting so frustrated. So I leaned over and looked him in the eye and said "I know you must be so freaking pissed and frustrated right now, but I PROMISE you it won't be long before they take that thing out and you can talk to us." I could tell he was grateful, it's amazing how people can speak with their eyes. So that was when one of the nurses aids said "I wonder if he can write?" and the nurse came in and said she didn't think he could use his arms yet but I said "he's pointing and lifting them both up" and she came in and untied one of them and that's when he brought his finger to his nose and I started cracking up, laughing and crying at the same time, and said "Oh my God - her NOSE RING?" and he's nodding like crazy. LOL She had just gotten her nose pierced on her birthday at the end of April, and he had not seen her since then! So I said "Yeah, she's crazy like her mama, huh?" and he nodded yes again. Then I said "Maybe we should get you one" and the nurse said "Richie, that could be arranged before you leave" and then I said "OK here's the deal - if you don't leave here with one, I'm taking you to get one when you get out of here, OK?" and he actually tried to laugh and smile! It was the shining point of my week, I gotta tell you. It gave me hope. The nurses hadn't realized that he had grandchildren who were older teenagers and they said it was good for them to visit, it definitely cheered him up. But it also raised his blood pressure and tired him out, so we didn't stay long.

They did take him into surgery for his legs yesterday around 10:30 a.m. and he didn't get out until 6:30 p.m. The surgeon called Jeremy and said it went very well and that he shouldn't need any additional surgeries unless he gets an infection or something. They were able to insert a titanium rod through his femur and also used rods and metal plates on his tibia and fibula. Jeremy and I went up there around 8:30 last night to see if we could visit, but the nurse met us at the door and said he had been having some pain issues and high blood pressure after the surgery. He was finally resting comfortably and we could go in, but we shouldn't touch or stimulate him. I knew I couldn't go in and see his eyes open and NOT touch him or talk to him, and Jeremy felt the same way. So we just looked at him from the hall, and chatted with the nurse. He definitely looked more peaceful and comfortable, so we came home feeling a tiny bit relieved. We're heading back up this morning and we are hoping they can take the breathing tube out today so he can talk to us. We don't want to bring the kids back up until that's done, so we'll either bring them back this afternoon or tomorrow.

I'd like you all to keep Richie in your thoughts and prayers, so although it's not a great picture, I thought it might help for you to have a picture in your mind of what he looks like, so you can picture him healthy and whole and walking again, so this is Richie last year:

Maryann was only 51 years old. Richie is only 57. They LOVED their motorcycle, it was one of those big Harley Davidson's with a passenger seat on the back. Richie was annoyingly careful with it - would not even take it on the highway because he didn't like to drive it fast. Apparently, they were on a leisurely ride on Sunday morning, just driving down a scenic route through neighboring towns. They came upon a winding section of road - there was a car in front of them and another in front of that one that was taking a left-hand turn. The car in front of them swerved around them on the right to pass, but Richie didn't see it in time. He may have been distracted, but Jeremy and I sat with the Chief of Police who confirmed that he was only traveling at 20-25 miles per hour... anyway, he laid the bike down on its side and it skidded into oncoming traffic and collided with a Jeep driven by a 19-year-old kid driving at only 25-30 mph. The speed limit was 40 mph - no one was speeding, no one was driving recklessly or doing anything wrong, it was just a stupid, tragic accident. Had they been driving a car, it would have most likely been a fender bender. The whole thing is just unbelievable and unimaginable, yet here we are.

In the midst of our own personal heartache, I found myself thinking about that 19-year-old kid. My nephew is 19 years old, and I kept thinking about him and wondering how he was doing - was he OK? What was going through his head? Did he think anyone was angry at him or blaming him? The newspaper had published his name, so I decided to look for him on Facebook. I found him right away and before I could convince myself not to, I sent him a message. I just told him who I was and how sorry I was, and that although I was pretty sure he knew he didn't do anything wrong, I wanted to make sure he knew that WE knew that, too. And that I was sending him a hug and thinking about him. He wrote back within hours and thanked me for reaching out to him, and said that my message would help him heal. It was very emotional, and I am so glad I decided to send that message.

We are hopeful that Richie will continue to improve daily - unfortunately, we cannot have the services for Maryann until he has the legal capacity to make decisions. Her poor family is just devastated and they want to have the services so they can have some closure and start to heal, but Richard is her next of kin and as her husband, he does deserve to be a part of these awful decisions. So we still have a long road ahead of us, and a lot more sadness and heartache.

What else can I say? Just when you think you can't possibly handle any more, it gets heaped on your plate anyway and you realize you're stronger than you ever would have imagined. I have never seen my husband hurting this way and it just tears at my heart, I wish so much I could take his pain away. Him and his dad have always been very close - his parents were teenagers when they had him, and his dad was his primary caregiver. They have a very special relationship - father and son, but also good friends. Jeremy is very much like his father, and so it's been really difficult for him as he keeps putting himself mentally in his father's shoes... while making decisions, he keeps imagining what he'd want - but by doing that, he's imagining himself in the same situation, and it's just something no one should ever have to do.

I haven't been to work all week and I honestly don't know if I can go back next week. I might need another week. I don't know yet - I'll have to see how I feel by Sunday night before I make any decisions. I really wanted to get through Maryann's funeral before I go back - I work with such a great group of people who truly care about me, that it's going to be very emotional to go back and have to talk about all this. It might be best for me to wait until it's all over before I attempt it. We'll see.

The one final thing I will say is that this has convinced me that there is no way we can move to California, not in the near future anyway. These past few weeks have been so traumatic, but the fact that I have so many close family and friends has really helped me get through it. I cannot imagine being 3000 miles away for something like this and NOT having this support. I'd lose my mind. I immediately started picturing tragedies happening to my sister, my best friends, my mom... and I just can't go. I can't do it. I love California and I wish I had been born there, but I wasn't. I was born in Massachusetts and I just can't leave. *sigh* Jeremy feels like "we can't go now..." but the fact is that his father is going to need our help for quite some time. He's going to need to go through some long and painful rehabilitation and he's going to need us to help him through it.

If you've made it this far, you must really care about us and for that, I thank you. Please continue to keep our families in your thoughts and prayers as I am sure the next few weeks, months, maybe even years, are going to be very painful for us. We feel your love and support, and it really does help. Peace.


  1. Jenn, I am so sorry to hear what you and your family have been through lately. Everyone will be in my thoughts and prayers!

  2. Hi Jenn I have read your post and I so feel for you and your family the pain of loss and the suffering of your loved ones is always hard to bear but the Lord gives us the strength when we need it and he has given you that bit extra. You are a strong lady and I admire you for that I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers and please keep us updated. I would love to send you and your family a card not a sympathy one but maybe a thinking of you one just to show that I care. If you would like that please use my e-mail on my blog.

    Big Hugs
    Lorraine x

  3. Oh Jenn, I am so so sorry to hear this sad news! I sent you an e-mail. When you have the time, and don't feel rushed to reply, go ahead and read it. You are in my thoughts and prayers and in my heart, as is your whole family. BUG hugs, Amy xo

  4. Jenn, I just wanted to tell you how very sorry I am to hear of all that you and your family have been through these last couple weeks. I will be praying for Richie's recovery, and for some wonderful, beautiful, happy things to happen in your lives, soon. Hugs, Deedee

  5. Oh Jenn, I am soooo sorry about the sadness that you have right now. I will be praying for you and your family each day!! May He provide the comfort and strength you need in this difficult time! HUGS!!!!