Monday, August 31, 2009

Stuff on Sunday

The storm of the year has just gone through Atlanta and I’m sitting in a dark, too warm house waiting for the power to come back on. So, I thought I might as well chat while I down an ice cold Guinness.

Last night was Mary’s 10th high school reunion. She was there in full force, larger than life (literally- the picture board we created was BIG). Julie and Mary’s friend John stayed by the board telling her story for most of the night. Many of her class mates did not know about the crash. A few were in her computer science classes with her at UGA. Most all that came by took the cards with the website links to GTF and Donate Life and picked up the UGA scholarship cards. A lot of them are coming to Mary’s Party on 9/19.

Last night we also went to a 21st birthday party for Danny’s friend Rachael. Her mom, sister, and brother had quite a gathering at their home. Two weeks after Rachael died Christine was forced to move out of the condo she rented because the owners didn’t pay the mortgage. I didn’t understand at the time how she was able do to that. I called it strength. Actually it was total robotic shock. You function on auto pilot not knowing whether what you are doing is healthy or harmful, you just do it. She did have her other two children to take care of but at 12 and 22 they were probably taking care of her like Julie and Danny took care of me.

We got home and after wandering around the house for awhile I settled down to play one of my mindless computer games hoping to get tired enough to fall asleep fast. It didn’t work. I crawled into bed only to be assaulted by visions of the crash. This happens quite a bit and is why I don’t go to sleep until the wee hours of the morn. To keep from waking my wonderfully snoring hubby I went to lay on the sofa and cry. I almost got up to turn on the TV and drink a beer but I couldn’t move. Mary should have been at her reunion having fun talking to all her friends she hasn’t seen in years. Instead she was staring at them from a board. Yes, her smile was bright and beautiful but it is becoming more vacant for me as the days roll on. It doesn’t change, doesn’t breathe, doesn’t live like it used to. Her face is frozen in time never to change again. So I laid on the sofa, clung to my feather pillow, and rocked back and forth. Rocking is very soothing. It reminds me of when my mother would hold me and rock me. I didn’t realize how much I do that until someone told me. Danny and Julie are always rocking or shaking some part of their bodies while they sit, mostly their legs.

The power is still out and now that Julie is home she says it looks like a war zone on the roads with all the trees and branches down. A tree fell on a car as it was driving down Sugarloaf Pkwy in front of our subdivision. The power is out in all the subdivisions near us. Guess we’re eating out tonight.

I went to Sunday school this morning. I go about once a month or so. The ladies are wonderful and they put up with me. I don’t usually comment on the lessons anymore. This one was about asking for signs from god. I used to think I received signs. Now I think it was just wishful thinking. One lady said she doesn’t look for signs because she believes that all things good come from god and all things bad come from “HIM”. Guess we all know who HIM is. I don’t believe that at all. Free will has to come in there somewhere. But if it fills the need in her heart, then it’s good for her. I have way too many questions to ever hope that they will get answered in my lifetime. I’ll probably just find that I knew the answers all along when I’m with Mary, where ever she is. I know she has found the answers to her questions. I’ve considered going to a sitting with a psychic. Evidently it’s pretty popular, they have group meetings all over the place. One day I might again. I did several years ago. My aura was purple!

My counselor says I’ve created some good “escape mechanisms”. These are needed so I can function during the day. At least I know I’m not going crazy which was a possibility in my mind.

I’m looking at the skin on my hands and fingers as I type. It looks old and tired and worn. Dry and wrinkled and full of “age spots”. But I think I’ve had the age spots forever, just called them freckles when I was younger.

OMG – the power just came back on and scare the #@#*^ out of me. But there’s air flowing at last!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hold on to the emptiness

Mary has some awesome friends. They have turned into our family and are so integrated into our lives that it helps me to continue to breathe.

I recall probably the very first time her roommates ever talked to me. Mary called me in the middle of the morning one April day in 2004. I was working, concentrating so hard I didn’t realize at first that the person who was not talking on the other end of the phone was Mary. My heart froze as I also realized that she was crying and couldn’t talk. Finally after some coaching I figured out she was in pain with the stomach flu going around and couldn’t talk. I only heard sobs and little noises for yes and no. Now, any mother will know the feeling you get when one of your children is hurting and you are too far away to immediately hold them and take care of them (seems I’ve felt that in the recent past also.) When I understood the problem I asked for her roommates phone numbers. She needed medicine and I was going to find a way to get it to her. I called both roomies and left messages telling who I was and what I wanted them to do.

My greatest fear was that, not knowing my phone number on sight they might ignore my call. So, I called a few more times just to reinforce that someone needed help. I called Mary back and told her what I did. She told me to tell them to leave the medicine outside her door and to knock. She didn’t want them getting whatever she had. (Oh that was so Mary.) Later she called back to say she had gotten some medicine. I found out that I had caught one of them between classes and I had sounded so desperate that she went directly to the store and back to Mary.

I don’t remember which one of them answered my plea. But they did tell Mary that at first they couldn’t figure out who this crazy lady was leaving a message for them. I had forgotten to tell them who I was until the 3rd message. Alas, they heeded my call as only a friend can.

The statement below is what one of them wrote about Mary.


I was told that I should take comfort in my emptiness because that emptiness I was feeling was Mary. When two people connect like we did, she said, there is an exchange of energy, an energy that feels like a buzz in your head every time you see each other. And when something inexplicable happens to that friend, when that energy suffers, she said, what you’re feeling is a piece of you dying too. And that’s the energy that you desperately have to hold on to, because it’s all I have left of Mary. It’s all any of us have left of her, and it’s his fault. He upset the balance of the universe.


Friends forever...

Hold on to the emptiness, it’s all that’s left
Reminders of everything that she ever touched
Memories of a life time packed into your heart
Dreams of the future erased, the pain is too much

Your souls connected when you first met
An energy inexplicable to those who don’t know
Her comforting friendship blanketed your soul
A friendship of a life time to you she bestowed

Hold on to the emptiness, even though it hurts
A piece of you is gone with her into the night
Together you’ll travel through space and time
Never ceasing to conquer what life has in sight

Hold on the emptiness, never let it go
The vacant solace of sighs will bring comfort in the void
Holding hands in your heart makes love unabated
It may one day regenerate the innocence that was destroyed

Hold on to the emptiness, she will help me to survive

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Rachael

Happy Birthday, Rachael.

I saw all your friends today gathered by your side
We raised our glasses and made a toast and told stories of your antics
I closed my eyes and pictured you smiling at all who came
And then I cried for what is lost, my life with you in it


Danny and Mary, from their beginnings, would pull the wishbone on every Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter turkey I'd cook. Even on a few non holiday birds. I think Mary won maybe 3 or 4 times. If you look at her face in this picture you can see she knows she's not going to win. Yet she always tried. You can also tell Danny looks like he's a lot more serious about it. But he always smiled and laughed when the bone snapped.


When I was a little girl and would sit in the bathroom I'd get bored staring at the shower curtain. I was doing what every kid does, stretch out the time to keep from doing chores. So, I'd look for something to read and inevitably I'd find the toothpaste tube. Now days I keep a mini library in my bathrooms. After years of sitting there I realized that I had memorized the "quote from the dentist".... "Crest has been shown to be an effective decay preventive dentifrice that can be of significant value when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care."

It wasn't until years later that I learned this quote is on ALL toothpaste tubes. Wow, what a disappointment in Crest. I grew up with Crest toothpaste, Tide laundry detergent, Downy fabric softener, and Ivory soap. I don't use any of them now. It's amazing what you pick up from your parents only to discard when you get older and wiser - or maybe there's just a wider range of choices today.

Anyway, I digress. I told this toothpaste story to Julie and Mary when they were little. Tonight, Julie reminded me that she and Mary memorized that quote and made into a song. She can only recite it now if she sings it. Oh, my.... what did I do to my kids? I can close my eyes and see them sitting side by side happily singing the song they made just for me. Oh, my.... what did my kids do to me?

I remember as they grew taller, closer to my height, I would tell them that they weren't allowed to grow anymore. I wanted to keep them just they way they were, short and huggable. Well, only Julie remained shorter than me but all remained huggable. I've been wrestling with the idea that Mary will always be 28. She'll never grow older, never change. So, along with the laughs of times gone by comes the tears of reality. Guess I'm going to have to learn to laugh and cry at the same time. Once again, that's why I wear sunglasses inside.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Every Day

I've been so very tired these last few days. I sat at work and didn't work. Went home and didn't do anything there either. So, I finally went to bed last night around midnight and didn't get up until after 9 this morning. That's the most sleep I've gotten in ages.

I went to see a grief counselor Friday with Bonni. Yes, I finally did it. She was very nice. Maybe I'll even go back.

So far we’ve had Kerry’s birthday without Mary, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day without Mary, and my birthday without Mary. Everybody who loved her will have some special day without her. She never forgot a special day. Tony turned 26 without her. Most importantly, we had a wedding day without her.

Mary and I used to talk about whether psychics or mediums or whatever they call themselves really could communicate with people who have died. They seem to believe they can. She gave me a book written by a skeptic researching this subject as far back as possible (500 years maybe) through current times. It was quite a comical book and very well written. In the end the author couldn’t decide if she believed or not but it was a interesting journey.

How much of what we do believe is formed by what we want to believe? I’d like to believe that Mary is right here beside me helping me get through each day, giving me little signs that she’s watching, and taking car of me. I don’t dream about her so I tell my self that she’s with Tony because he dreams about her all the time. They were soul mates, of course she’d be with him. Does that make me feel better? No. Why, if you don’t have a physical body retraining you, couldn’t you be in more places than one? I see butterflies, and humming birds, beautiful sunsets, rainbows. Are these signs from Mary? Some think so. If it makes them feel better why not believe they are signs. It doesn’t make me feel better.

Does believing she’s in heaven, in a better place, make me feel better? No. She was in a pretty good place where she was. Does god only “take the good ones”. Give me a break! Evil, mean, bad people die just as often as the good people do. It was NOT her “turn”, her “time to go”. If god had a plan there would be no free will. Besides if this was his plan, then it sucks, big time. (I think I’ve said this before.) There is NOTHING anyone can say to make this any easier. Yes, she is in my heart and on my mind all day long. I have her things and pictures of her all over the place. I can’t go anywhere without her presence. So, of course, she’s with me. But if I took off far away without any physical reminders, would she start to fade on me? My mother died when I was 13. That was 44 years ago. Sometimes I can’t remember what she looked like. I hardly ever dream of her. And I don’t think about her every single day. She would be 100 years old last March. (I was a late baby.) My dad died 25 years ago. Parents are supposed to go before their children.

Every Day

Every step I take - as I inch along this long winding road

Doesn’t seem to make - any sense to me at all.

Every breath I breathe, - every sigh that comes from deep within

Just makes me seethe - and spurn the sunrise that breaks the dawn without you.

I want to start again, go back to the beginning, rewrite the script of life -

to see what I can change to bring you back to me.

But it’s impossible, it’s not meant to be.

Every song I hear – is my opiate and so relieves my pain for awhile

Makes me disappear – oh so loud it drowns the hurt with pounding bass.

Every smile I see – is your sweet face smiling back at me one last time

Comforting debris – the one constant in my reality turned memory that I hold.

I want to start again, go back to the beginning, rewrite the script of life -

to see what I can change to bring you back to me.

But it’s impossible, it’s not meant to be.

Every day I want to fly away, far away, so I can either find you or

get lost in dreams where we are together again, forever again

But I need the pain, I need the hurt to remind me that I’m still alive

So I don’t complain – I just sustain with your refrain, “love you, bye”.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Apology NOT accepted

Last Thursday while sitting the ER waiting for Gabe to get his chin stitched up, they put some kind of ointment on the cut to numb the area. After about 20 minutes all around the cut the skin was pale, like the blood had been pushed away from the site. When the doctor came in to stitch, Gabe didn't feel anything but some tugging. He was so interested in the cartoons he didn't even know there was a needle involved. As I was trying to hold Anna, she never sits still, I found my self jealous of that cut, wanting some of that ointment for myself, to put on my heart, my soul, so I could go for a few hours without the pain. After it was over Gabe asked what the doctor used to put the holes in his chin with for the string he used. Out of the mouths of babes.

I could call it 'Ointment for the Soul'. Reminds me of the con artist Starbuck in the 1956 movie The Rainmaker selling his wares for the weary, selling hope for those without it.

Monday was not what was expected. We got there an hour before court started and there was already a long line of people coming out of the courtroom curved around the wall way and down the stairs. So, we got in line. 12 of us, 6 family and 6 friends. All kinds of different looking (for lack of a better word) people were coming in, getting in line, milling around. Some looked terrified, some smiling as if to say "here we go again". One of us was smart enough to realize that we didn't need to stand in the line of defendants. So we wiggled our way through into the courtroom just minutes before it court started. It looked kind of like a church sanctuary with long pew like benches on each side but without space next to the wall. I followed Bonni until I realized I couldn't get to where Kerry was. I made it down the long bench to sit and start looking around for "HIM". After a few minutes we all realized that Bonni was sitting next to his mother (we think), his friend, and him. He was sitting as far back into what could be called a corner as he could be, hiding maybe. But we were an awesome troupe, marching in and sitting down 2 rows in front of him. Bonni sat with a large picture of Mary and Tony on her lap flipping the flier from Mary's party over and over. They knew exactly who we were - The Awesome Bunch.

They called the defendants alphabetically, he was case #91 and #92. We girls all had our much needed boxes of tissue, I mostly held my breath. If I breathed much little sounds of anguish would seep out and I didn't want the judge to kick us out. They finally got to the L's. A lawyer over in the opposite corner near the state troopers started talking but it was hard to hear. Something about "now a felony since the BAC....", "continuance....", "thank you judge". We heard November 12th then on to the next name on the docket. We all sat there looking at each other wondering what happened. This was not what the DA said would happen. The man sat in his corner while his lawyer strolled across the courtroom whispering to some, waving to others, like it was a Sunday afternoon on the way to the pool hall. When he reached his defendant, mumbled a few words (Bonni couldn't hear), they all stood up and started walking out. Then we all stood up and made a mass exodus at the same time.

When we got out in the hall way he was again in a corner talking to his lawyer. We all wanted to go over and listen but propriety stopped us. They finally walked through us and
one of Mary's friends handed the man a picture of Mary, he took it, and they continued into a room. After a few minutes out they came. We were still gathered at the top of the steps and again he had to walk through us. That's when I looked him straight in the eyes. I wasn't near him (that would have been too tempting) but he looked at me and averted his eyes. His lawyer wouldn't look at any of us, but they both knew who the group of sad, sobbing people was.

I followed him out of the court house and stood at the retainer wall watching him looking over his shoulder at us. Then I saw Bonni following him to his car, talking to him, and tears started dropping but without sound. It was as if it was March 31st all over again. I couldn't catch my breath, my mouth was open but nothing was coming out. I was watching my self scream from the outside in. I wanted him to hear me, to see what he had done us, but he kept walking. What did I expect him to do? I haven't a freakin' clue. Nothing he could have done would have made any difference except that I wanted to torture him as he had tortured us. Bonni said to him, "there are 12 people here whose lives you have devastated". She said other things but I can't remember. He said he was sorry and apologized. She said, "apology not accepted", and watched him drive away.

We all went to Mary and Tony's house, ate lunch together, told stories, cried, laughed, cursed, hugged and said goodbye to house. I will never go back there again.

You can get 20 years of jail time for possessing a marble size piece of heroin, 3-4 years for animal cruelty, but only 6 - 9 years (or less) for killing another human being. I don't understand, just don't understand.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Victim Impact Statement

If it were possible for you to comprehend the devastation you have brought upon my family, Mary’s friends, and the world with the reckless irresponsibility of your actions, you would not have driven while intoxicated in the first place. It was only a simple choice you had to make to do the right thing. And yet you chose to disregard the fact that you were not only breaking the law, you were choosing to put other people in danger, and taking the greatest risk of all of killing some. I wish you could have been present when the police utter the words no one ever wants to hear, “I’m sorry to inform you that….”.

You killed Mary, my child, my daughter, and I will never be whole again. I will never go to sleep without tears, I will never wake up without heart ache, I will never again enjoy life as it could have been. I am constantly haunted by the vision of you in your truck crushing the life out of my daughter. Her terrorized face, her screams of realization that her life is over, pierce through my conciseness all day long. This vision prevents me from ever again having peace in my life. I have never seen a picture of her car because I believe it would kill me as well. I see her standing in the door ways at home, walking down the hall, cooking in the kitchen only to realize with an overwhelming physical pain in my chest that she is gone from this earth forever. I have sought the counsel of friends and professionals to try to keep the pain from making me unable to function. I WANT HER BACK.

Yes, she is beside me in spirit, holding my hand, telling me as she always did that everything will be ok. But, I want her back in reality. I want to hear her laugh, see her smile that big, bright, beautiful Mary smile. I want to feel her touch, her hug around my shoulders. I WANT HER BACK.

Mary was, Mary is, the most wonderfully beautiful soul that has ever walked the earth. She gave all of her self to her family and friends and even strangers when she could. I could go on and on for hours, even years describing her but I don’t think you would understand. I WANT HER BACK.

Mary’s brother, Danny, has a heart transplant and now needs another heart. If he needed a different organ she would have been the first to offer hers. Because of the violence of the crash in which you took her life, she was unable to donate ANY piece of herself to help others. If she had died in another manner, she might have been able to save not only Danny’s life, but many, many others. So, you took not only her life, but other lives as well. I cannot describe what living without Mary has done to her sister, Julie, and her father, Kerry, and Danny. Our family used to be whole, now we have only an emptiness to hold on to. Your thoughtless disregard of human life changed forever the world we live in. I hope that every single day you walk this earth you will carry a reminder what you did, some thorn in your side to never let you forget. I WANT HER BACK.

Tony and Mary were to be married on June 20th, 2009. On that day we gathered at their home, then empty because Tony couldn’t live there without her. They were married in our hearts and will remain so forever. You have taken the future from me, a wondrous wedding day, beautiful grand children, a life without Mary, but you can never take the memories. That’s all I have left. You alone could have prevented her death. I WANT HER BACK.

You will never be able to make amends, restitution, or give me back my Mary. I can never get even with you, for I would NOT do what you did to you or your child and cause the ceaseless pain I suffer to you, your mother, or your family. I will never ever forgive you. You have committed the most unforgivable sin against a parent. So, close your eyes and imagine one of your children taken from you in the same manner you took Mary. Now, live with that vision forever and you may, if you have a soul, come a little closer to the pain I carry every day of my life. I WANT HER BACK.

Judge, please sentence this man to the fullest extent of the law. Yes, I wish he had died in the crash too. Yes, I want him in prison for life. And, yes, part of me still wants him dead. But I know Mary would not want his family to suffer as we do. Make him an example to others so hopefully they will understand that there are consequences to actions. If any good comes of his actions, and I’m not sure there can be, maybe it will be that others, seeing his life in prison and the pain he has caused, will not make the same irresponsible, uncaring, choice he made. Require him to do community service for the rest of his life, in helping others he may realize the value of life. Take away his license to drive any vehicle forever as a reminder that driving is a privilege not a right.

As you can see, Mary is still in my heart, helping me do the right thing, even with the hate and urge for vengeance I feel. She is and always will be, my rock.

Friday, August 14, 2009

This one is for Danny

Sometimes you know things in your heart but having them said out loud, on display for all to see and hear, is much harder to accept than keeping them tucked away undisturbed. Danny's check up was Wednesday and the day started of as usual with me yelling "Get Up!" over and over until he snaps "alright, already". You'd think this was a school day in high school. Later he said he would have paid me $150 to leave him alone to sleep a few more hours. Ha! It would have cost him more than that.

His checkup was the same as always, still breathing and getting out when he can. Then we went on to meet with his surgeon, the one with the magic hands, the one who will be putting that unfathomable gift of life into his chest, Dr. Vega. I wanted to understand exactly how antibodies were measured, what Danny's levels were, and what that meant relative to finding "a heart" for him. (It has always felt rather weird to talk about "a heart" as we all do when it actually means someone else has died. But I am closer to imagining the feeling of death turning into life.) Dr. Vega explained and we sat and listened. Antibodies are your bodies defense against germs (so to speak). If Danny has an antibody and a donor has an antigen (the germ) then Danny's body will reject the heart. You get antibodies from infections you've had, blood transfusions, and if you are a woman, from pregnancies. Danny's antibodies are high. When a heart becomes available his antibodies and their antigens are compared. If they find matches, the transplant will not work. Danny does not match 90% of the donor pool in Georgia. And so we wait and wait some more. They may try to reduce his antibodies but that brings other risks. The question becomes, are we, is Danny, willing to take the risks to get a heart sooner to possibly loose it later? Will his heart last long enough to find a donor that is a good fit? There are many more questions floating around in my head that I dare not let out. Danny sat quietly listening, staring at the table top, asking a few questions. I sat, asking a lot of questions, holding tears in, wanting to be told "here's the answer". But that didn't happen.

Next week we will find out what the consensus is from all the doctors that take care of Danny.

When some one is given another chance at life they may write the donor's family and try to thank them and let them know what that gift means to them. I wrote to Danny's donor family many times over the 12 years he has had his 2nd chance. They have never answered. I could never imagine the pain that came with the loss of, in their case, a child. I do know the donor was a boy Danny's age (14). All I could say was "thank you" and it seemed such an empty statement compared to the grief I knew they suffered. After that day many of my long standing religious beliefs faded away and most have yet to return. I quit trying to understand and just kept living with a massive amount of "I love You's" thrown in every single day.

Now I understand enough to know that giving that 2nd chance to Danny and others, was the last grasp at turning death into life. I am heartbroken (catch that?) to have to tell them Danny's 2nd chance is fading. I have waited 5 years to write that letter. I'm not sure if I can. But, I do understand....... now.

I Promise You

How do I survive to face another day

when the only thing I want is to retrofit my fear

And how do I endure the cataclysmic sight

that continues to invade this uncharted frontier

Oh, I hope that you can see what I’m tryin’ to say

Don’t give up on me, I will fight another day

I will fight another way, another time, I will fight another day

It seems I must subsist on the conflicts of the mind

while the ever present truth is just a blue illusion

I only can subsist by trading my heart in for a mask

the smile upon my face you see is just my own delusion

It’s just the same you see, no matter where I go

Don’t give up on me, I’m trying to fight this foe

I will fight this nemesis, insidious bane, I will fight this foe

The only challenge that I know or understand to be

is the one I hope to face when you’re right beside of me.

Right beside of me, holding tight, sitting right next to me.

Don’t give up on me, I’ve got a long, long way to go.

From Mary's roomie...

by Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman
Not the grief of a child

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every good bye you learn.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mary's last day

The day before Mary's Celebration of Life Party I was searching the web to see if there were any news stories about her. I came upon a blog that I now know is by one of Mary's good friends at Drake Software. The first entry was short but the responses were amazing. Especially the one from the couple who first found Mary.

Click on- My Friend Mary

She also wrote about Mary's last day.

I am so thankful to know she was happily doing what she loved best (taking care of a friend) on her last day and that she was not alone on the road on that cold, empty night.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a monday

Yesterday morning started out pretty good while I was getting into the truck. Then I started playing some songs. One in particular Mary told me she liked – it reminded her of her and Tony together. I have this habit of playing songs over and over so I can sing with them. So, half way to work it finally got to me there would be no more “them” in the physical realm. Thank god for sun glasses. The rest of the day was blah after that.

Went to the Emory heart support group and out for pizza.

Can’t decide what I’m going to do next Monday. I want to be in the court room but I’m not sure if I want to see his face. Looking at someone or knowing their name makes the link more personal and I DO NOT want to think of him as a person. He is and always will be a monster to me.

Baby steps, I have to take baby steps and hold on to my friends.

I wish I could just take an entire day and write all day long. Just write and write and write and write……

I sent this to danny awhile back. Now Mary's sending it to me.


Definitions of endurance:

  • noun: the power to withstand
    hardship or stress

Example: "The marathon tests a runner's endurance"

  • noun: a state of surviving
    ; remaining alive

Monday, August 10, 2009


Mary and Friends

How to Survive on Empty

Strength is not something that is built in

It comes with the moments of life as

they spring upon you, as they slam into you with the full force of unexpectedness

Perseverance is much overrated

When you want to sit and be absorbed by memories,

odors, sensations long gone, it blindly stabs you in the back and twists the blade

Determination can be a two sided cloak

Like a pendulum the ups and downs of holding back

and moving on collide into walls that surround this prison of current existence

Courage is not what it’s cracked up to be

It hinders the need to grieve in the very fact that

without it the ability to breathe is constricted to the point of unconsciousness

Faith is as fleeting as the butterfly

It comes and goes, never to stay in one

place lest you forget that peace is not guaranteed, even for a moment

Endurance maybe the only path left

It’s the ability to walk, arms outstretched, down a dark,

endless road while waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel not to be another train

Appearances deceive we’ve all been taught

Surely this is a time when they need

to seem as far from real as possible to save those who can’t understand

Love is all that matters

It‘s the glue of life that is unquestionable, undeniable

incontrovertible, indisputable, irrefutable. It is the unequivocal truth

I am neither strong nor weak

I have merely transformed into the

person I have to be

to exist without you

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sighing for love

Julie didn't pass the test for sheriff's position. It was like a mini PSAT and she hasn't done any real math problems like those since high school. She'll try again. I almost told her that "when one door closes another one opens" but I caught myself in time. It sounds pretty but I don't believe it anymore. She just missed one too many questions, that's all. But, she'll get it next time with a little more studying.

Julie and Mike have a temporary custody agreement. One less thing to think about for awhile hopefully. But I never plan on anything anymore. Just one day, one hour, at a time. Breathe in, breathe out.

I tried to write something yesterday but I couldn't put it down on paper. I talked to Tony, love hearing his voice. He is in Seattle and very tired from all his travels. Listening to him I can see Mary standing beside him and I get homesick for her. Does that make sense? Maybe he feels the same when he talks to any of us.

For some reason my feelings are more intense when I talk about Mary. They are sitting on the edge of a precipice of love and guilt ready to fall when the wind blows her to me. Sometimes I go tumbling down and sometimes I manage to hold on to tree roots. I hear myself sighing more lately, like I did in April and May. The hearing for her killer is in 10 days and maybe that's what's causing it. Still don't know if I want to see him. Guess I won't know until I get there.

I'm going to try to go to a meeting of the Compassionate Friends this month. "Try" is the word. We'll see.

We have the kids from Wednesday afternoon till Saturday afternoon until the divorce is final. Now we can plan (love that word!!) for some after school activities.

My shoulders and neck ache all the time. I need a massage but I won't get one because I won't enjoy it. So why bother. I can see sharper division between the public me and the broken me. But I have to have that division to keep going. I just wish I could let the broken me explode once in a while. I do a little bit.

From a child to her mother -

When I asked you one day what love is, you told me
love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Heart to Heart 2008

(Click on the picture to get a better view)

This is at the last "Heart to Heart" get together for heart transplant recipients of Emory and Egleston around Valentine's Day 2008. Mary went to every one that Danny went to. Danny only went because Mary would go. We all squished into Danny's little truck (mine now), Mary and I sitting on the fold out chair flaps behind Tony and Danny. The first H to H we ever went to there were probably 20 recipients and 25 staff. This time there was probably over 75 and a one man had his heart for over 18 years.

January 2nd this year when they called us to come down to Emory because they had a heart that looked like a good match, they called Mary and Tony's house first. Danny was up there for New Years and he had just gotten back home around midnight. She was SOOOOOOOOOOO excited. Emory called us and Neile told me she had just gotten off the phone with Mary. While Neile was talking to Danny I was gathering the video camera and other stuff thinking that Mary was getting ready too. A few minutes after Danny hung up, the phone rang again. It was Mary and she said, "Weeeeeeelllllll..... did they call you?" I said yes. She said, "Why didn't you call ME?". I told her I thought she already knew. She said, "But, I wanted to hear it from you. I knew you'd be SO excited."

Saying we were all "excited" doesn't quite mean excited in the way it normally does. Glad the wait is over, yes. Glad Danny will get his active life back, yes. But deep down, the knowledge that someone had died to give us this, pretty much puts a BIG damper on the excitement. All the way down to Emory little tears were rolling off my face. Danny put his arm around me because he knew what I was thinking. Unfortunately, the heart was not meant for Danny. Julie called Mary and caught her coming through Helen and told her to turn around.

Now, I only wish we could understand the feeling of giving life to someone else. That would have been the one and only thing in this world that might have made a difference that night. I tried so hard to talk the people in NC into taking something of Mary. Some little bit of her that would remain alive in this horribly dark world. They didn't have the heart (!) to tell me how badly injured she was until much later.

There will always be "if only's" from now on I'm sure. But this will be one of the hardest to completely accept. Danny getting a new heart was the 2nd most important event Mary was waiting for. Getting married was the first.

Monday, August 3, 2009

One more alternative outcome

#15 - Mary gets by the truck by a few seconds but he hits the next car in line behind her. She goes back to help the people in that car and finds them dead. Realizing how close she came to being the one struck she rededicates her life to her family, friends, and the causes she believes in becoming very close to the family in the car that was hit.

If I allow myself a little dreaming I realize that the above could have happened. So, once again, Mary has given her life to spare the lives of others without even knowing it. She might not have willingly done that for strangers (only she would know) but I know she would have for anyone she loved. It's that old philosophical question about would you save a stranger who is drowning knowing you can't swim very well but you are their only chance?


This is a song Julie found that we like.

Just click on the below sentence.

A song for Mary....

Alternate Outcomes

Alternate out comes:

  1. Mary lives but is in a vegetative state and eventually donates her organs to many people.
  2. Mary lives but is in a coma for years.
  3. Mary lives but is brain damaged and has regressed to early childhood.
  4. Mary lives but is a quadriplegic for life.
  5. Mary lives but is a paraplegic for life.
  6. Mary lives but is burned and completely disfigured.
  7. Mary lives but has so many internal injuries that she needs a transplant of some kind.
  8. Mary lives but has so many injuries that she looses her legs or arms.
  9. Mary lives but has so many internal injuries that she needs tubes and bags attached to her for the rest of her life.
  10. Mary lives but has such brain damage that she relives the crash over and over and needs psycho therapy for the rest of her life and is unable to make love attachments to those she loved before the crash.
  11. Mary lives but has so many internal injuries that she can’t have children.
  12. Mary lives but doesn’t remember anything at all before the crash.
  13. Mary lives but is in such physical pain from injuries that she doesn’t want to be a burden to her family and disappears into the world.
  14. Mary manages to miss the truck and turns around to help the man when his truck crashes.

Numbers 2 through 12 could continue to “but transforms her life into something so beautiful she inspires the entire world to be better people." Would this make those outcomes easier to accept?

I only wish number 1 could have happened. Number 13 doesn’t sound like Mary but with mental stress, you never know.

Number 14 sounds like Mary, doesn't it? That's exactly what she would do.

Actually you never know what’s going to happen one second from now.

Writing these hasn’t really helped me because although I would never want Mary to suffer, I surely don’t want her gone. So, what to do?

I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both. **Soren Kierkegaard**

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I love you Mary

As I was reading an email from The Compassionate Friends group about their memory tree they create every Christmas I realized I can't do what they do. I was reading about them memory book they put together listing all the children they've lost and the poems they've written about them. Many struck me as if they had resigned to the fact their child is truly gone. They want to keep their child's memory alive, not keep the child alive. Now, this is hard to explain. I'm not even sure if I can without sounding hurtful and unfeeling. It was like I knew although Mary is not in the same realm with me, she is definitely NOT dead, she is alive and going strong in another realm that is very close by. I don't even like saying the word dead. I will yell off the mountain tops that she was killed by a heartless, thoughtless, !#*&^@% idiot who was driving drunk so maybe someone, just one someone, will stop and think before they drink and drive. But she isn't gone from my universe. And I won't talk about her "passing" or "leaving" because she didn't. The more I read the more this conviction grew. Maybe I haven't gotten to where these people are in their life, or maybe I've gone past them. I don't know. I understand that this group doesn't represent all families that have lost children, just the ones who need the support of others in the same situation. I haven't attended a meeting yet. Maybe I will. I understand what they went through and where they came from, I just don't understand where they are now. Some of them lost their children over 25 years ago and the children are all ages.

I think I'll have to go to one of the meetings to understand them. But I'm slightly afraid if I go I won't be able to hold myself together. And that's what scares me most.

My mind is so confused and feels like one gigantic mud hole. I promise till my last breath, Mary, that I will never let you die. You will be beside me forever, with me in every single thing I do, working or playing, crying or laughing. I cannot live without my WHOLE family and I will not do so. I love you Mary.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


So much stuff swirling around in my head I get dizzy. Part of me doesn't want to move past March 30th. Wants the world to stop with me and react the same way I am. Can't see any possibility of good coming out of life anymore. And part of me tries to make every single thing I do, I do for Mary, to honor her life, to keep her going. So, life has to go on if I do that. It's such a conundrum and it's driving me crazy. I do all these things for Julie and the kids because I know Mary would have and would want me to. I would have done them anyway but there's more power behind it because of Mary. She's right there beside me. Holding on to all of us. She's everywhere, with Tony, with her friends, with the rest of us, all the time.

And the next part of me knows I have to go on with things that have nothing to do with her, which is the hardest thing in the world to do. Pick up where I left off with my work, my house painting, my whatever I was doing before. Work is the hardest. Going there feels like nothing ever happened. And I don't like the feeling, I can't accept it, it's very hard to do.

Lastly there are the new things in my life I need to do carry on her legacy. I am only beginning to get a grasp of what I can do and it's pretty overwhelming.

The seminar I attended at Emory is an example of everything being pushed together. I volunteer my time now for both Danny and Mary and I was doing pretty good that day until at a break someone asked me what my bracelet was for. Out came the tears and Mary's program, the hugs from strangers, and the silence of not knowing what to say to me. All of a sudden I was changed from one person of 100 people to the center of attention (albeit a small group) and it was weird. I was transported back to March 31st. Then as instantly as it happened, the seminar started again and I was whisked back to "reality".

I'm in a very confused state right now and I can't figure out how to straighten it out, if I even want to, or whether I should try or not. The only time I don't feel guilty for living my life is when I'm writing or thinking about Mary, or doing something with all her things, or telling people about her. And doing those things stops me from living, I'm just existing.