Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wow - How time has passed!

It's been several months since I've written anything and that's not exactly conducive to attracting an audience, but so be it. If I have to sum up the past few months, it would be that a lot has happened, but a lot has not. Let me try to explain what I mean.

In my reality world, I've gotten back to living life as well as can be expected. I still work the same job, do the same chores, have the same routines, etc. We are preparing to put the house that the kids rented up for sale. My son-in-law doesn't want to live in it anymore (I don't blame him) and we don't need the expense of a second house, so it's got to go. We started mowing the lawn ourselves instead of paying someone else to do it.

But I still feel as if time is standing still...time stopped when my daughter died. The woodworking shop I wanted so bad for so many years and finally got when we moved into this house is no longer so important. The job is no longer so important, nor are any of the other myriad of things I used to enjoy doing. I function out of necessity. Time stopped when my daughter died.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kids say the Darndest Things

I ran across some old vhs tapes taken when Allison was anywhere between 3 and 15-16 years old, and I've been in the process of preserving them by converting them to digital format. In order to process them, I must watch the tapes as they are being converted. This is because we didn't always shoot an entire vhs (because of varying circumstances) and so I have to know when to cut off the recording process.

Today I converted a tape that was recorded by my wife when I was on deployment with the Navy. Allison was about 3 or 4 at the time. It shows scenes from when they went to the local zoo, a dance recital and Halloween of that year, and I had an absolute blast watching those again. Allison was so full of energy and life, as are most young children at that age.

One would think that watching those old videos of my daughter so soon after her passing that it might upset me...I know it would my wife. But I had the opposite reaction. I felt a reaffirmation of life, a sort of feeling that my daughter would want me to embrace life as a 3 year old does, with wonder and awe at the things that surround us and not dwell on the fact that she is gone from us forever.

But then again, watching the video took almost 3 hours and since it bouyed my spirits, I thought I'd post those positive thoughts here. But it's taken me almost a half hour to write these few words and I'm no closer to putting my feelings and thoughts into order than I was before watching the video.

I can take only so much. I've scanned photos of her and am now processing video of her. It must be done in order to preserve her memory. But I have to take it in little chunks, not like I have was a bit too much.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

All Over the Place

This morning, I feel relatively clearheaded and therefore wll try to address several different thoughts that have been floating about for a while...
A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that's how awful the loss is!
We can never really recover from his loss. An amputee is changed physically by the loss of his limb. The way he interacts with the physical world must reflect that change. He can’t do the things he used to do. And he has a phantom limb sensation – he feels the limb, even though it’s gone. And each time he feels that lost limb he must acknowledge its loss. He does that over and over again. I have lost something too – a part of my heart and soul is gone. I have been changed psychically and emotionally by my loss, and will now always react to the world differently than I did. There is a phantom Steve, a ghost, like that phantom limb. I think of Steve, and then I am immediately hit by his loss, again and again. I talk to that ghost, play pool with that ghost, because I need to. I think I always will. In this and other ways I am different mentally than I was. I don’t choose to be different, I just am.
The first quote is from a white paper titled, "The Death of a Child - The Grief of the Parents - A Lifetime Journey". Just google those in quotes and you'll get it...a VERY interesting article and a must read for every grieving parent.

The second is from Mr. Bud Pazur, who lost his son to suicide. His website is .

The first demonstrates to me the fact that the loss of a child is so tragic that society has not made up a word for the survivors. This is extraordinary because society makes up words all the time for all kinds of things, but not the loss of a child? I've done crossword puzzles every single day for over 30 years and there are words for everything. Add to that the fact that there are many words to describe the same thing or circumstance. Don't ask for examples because I can't think of any right this second...look it up if you're interested... is a good place to start.

I know it's a stretch, but I tie the second quote to the first because of the tragedy of the loss. While the circumstances surrounding the loss of our children differ, the reality is the same...we've lost a child. The sheer magnitude of such a loss throughout history has prevented anyone from forming a word for it, and I doubt anyone will.

While my above statements may be thought provoking in some circles, it's really inconsequential to Bud's statement, which really hit me close to home. I am a changed man. My life priorities have changed. I am no longer interested in my job, I could care less about my coworkers, the projects I had planned at home have taken a back seat to getting all the pictures and videos saved (VERY time consuming), and I'm taking time out of the day to try and write down my feelings and thoughts here.

My daughter's death changed me. For the time being, I no longer control my emotions, after all, it's only been 63 days since my daughter passed.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Weekend is Here

Well, I finally made it through another two weeks in order to get a weekend off...such is the nature of my job. Every Wednesday and every other weekend off, a pretty tough schedule to keep, especially when working 11pm to 7am. But I persevere and push through it.

Much like I'm doing through my grief. My wife and I talked this evening about how we're feeling and dealing. She did most of the crying and I did most of the talking...trying to push through this.

When my mother passed away in the early '80s and my brother 10 years later, I was able to push through it, or at least I thought. I cried uncontrollably for my mother within weeks of her death, not at all for my brother. I wasn't that close to him by that time and that may have been the reason, I don't know.

But now we're talking about my daughter, our daughter, who we helped to nurture into such a sweet caring human being and loving wife. It's been two months and very little tears...very little. I constantly wonder about that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Beginnings


New beginnings. I feel it. The focus used to be on work, but I don't really care about work anymore. Maybe I would had I still been working at my dream job, but I'm no longer focused at work. It's like I'm a robot and I just go in and do the work. Make no mistake, I still do the job to the best of my ability, I just don't care about it.

But I feel different somehow and I can't put my finger on it. I've sat here for well over 5 minutes trying to put my feelings into some type of categorie, and I can't do it.

Perhaps it's the reflective mood I find myself in at odd times of the day, or maybe the way I now care more about home, our home, than anything happening outside of it. I don't care about politics whether on the local or national level, nor on the world level for that matter.

Home is safe. It's a place I can be with my wife, Cindy, and be myself, my absolute self. No airs, no pretensions, no expectations...just...comfort. I've always felt that way, but now it's different somehow. We just passed our 28th anniversary, so I've always felt "comfortable" with her, but never like this.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Filling in Some Blank Areas

I wirte this to fill in the backstory as it attempt to make the reader more familiar with my daughter, Allison. She was born on 14 March 1986 at the Naval hospital in San Diego, California. She was special to us because we had been trying to have a child for a while, and when she came along, we were grateful.

One of the biggest blunders I made in my life happened a day or so after Allison was delivered. I went to the hospital, camera in hand in order to document the birth of our newborn...and it turns out there was no film in the camera! We told Allison about that later in life and she never let me forget it. :-))

Both mother and father being in the Navy presented it's own challenges, and when we were transferred to Hawaii in 1987, we were lucky enough that the two of us didn't get assigned sea duty at the same time. My wife was on shore duty and I was assigned to a ship, which meant deployments.

Soon after I reported for duty, the ship got underway for a 6 month cruise. I left behind my wife and daughter and did my duty. During that time, my wife made sure that a picture of Daddy was always nearby, and that each night they would point out where I was at in the world. In the rare instances when I was able to talk to them, it was a pleasure for me, although Allison at almost 3-years-old, didn't quite know who she was talking to.

One of the "milestones" in my  memories of Allison is when I returned home from my first 6-month deployment. My wife and daughter were there on the pier when we docked and I was fortunate enough to be one of the sailors on deck to see their loved ones. Once docked and everything secured, family members were allowed onboard...and I met Allison for the first time again. She was wary of me, but I seemed familiar. With the help of mom I was able to reestablish our bond, although I doubt that it ever went away in the first place.

My wife got out of the Navy and I stayed in. I got stationed in Virginia Beach, Va and she went on to get her degree as a paralegal. Allison started school in Virginia and we stayed there for the next ten years, a plus I'm absolutely grateful for. It provided a stability for her through her most formative years. With the exception of two years when I was stationed on a ship that was gone 9 months out of the year, I was there the whole time she was growing up. Looking back on it now, it was glorious.

Next up, the teenage years...not hassle-free, but definitely not a bad experience.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Story

I can't seem to remember much about the days preceding my daughter's passing. I know I had to work on Christmas, 2010, but that's not a big deal for my wife and I. Having served 20 years in the Navy (my wife served 10), there were plenty of times that special holidays and birthdays were missed.Working third shift (11pm - 7am) in a production facility also does not guarantee those days off, and that's what I've been doing since I retired from the Navy. My current work schedule is such that I have every Wednesday night off and every other Saturday/Sunday off. Working Christmas weekend meant that I would be off for New Years weekend, and that's when we had arranged to have our formal Christmas with Allison and her husband. It was to be our first cookout in our new home and who better to christen it with than our children.

I don't remember any details about the 26th through the 28th, but that's probably because I was working and everything was in a normal state of affairs...go to work, come home, read the paper, watch a little TV, eat dinner and go to bed. There might be some chores thrown in there from time to time, but I'm a man of ritual. To me, a ritual creates stability and was probably learned from my time in the Navy. Little did I know that my stability was going to be shattered beyond belief.

On Wednesday morning, 29 Dec., I arrived home from work, proceeded to go through my routine and went to bed around 2pm. Sometime around 7pm I was awakened by my wife who proceeded to tell me that Allison's mother-in-law had called her and that she needed to get down to the hospital because Allison wasn't waking up, or something like that.  She was in a panic and wasn't making much sense to me because I had just been roused out of a deep sleep, but I did sense the urgency in her voice.

I do and do not regret the decision I made not to go with her.

I don't regret it for 3 reasons: (1) My wife was in a hurry and I knew she didn't want to wait for me...she had to get to her baby; (2) This had happened before when Allison was learning to drive and had a couple of accidents, neither of which were life threatening, but caused her to go to the hospital; and (3) Ultimately there was nothing I could have done...hindsight, I know.

I do regret not going with her because I wasn't there when she was told that Allison had passed away. Was there family there? Yes, lots of them, so I feel good that she wasn't alone...but I wasn't there at that critical point in time.

About a half hour or so after my wife left, my daughter's mother-in-law calls me from my wife's phone and says I really need to come down to the hospital. Someone will meet me there to take me to Allison's room. I say okay and she hangs up. I'm sure there was something else said in that brief conversation, but I have only the recollection of those words, nothing more.

Now keep in mind that after my wife had left, I was wide awake. I took my shower, got dressed, then went out to the garage where I just kind of stared at the TV. I finally turned the sound down as the voices on the TV were clashing with the voices in my head. All kinds of thoughts were coming and none of them had anything good to say. As I finally drove to the hospital, about a 15 minute drive, the thoughts continued, and one thought kept coming up over and over, that Allison was dead. As much as I tried to suppress it and tell myself that Allison had broken a foot or developed a sickness, that particular thought kept coming back.

Fear and dread started to overtake me as I parked the truck and walked toward the ER entrance. Tingles running up and down my spine, but not the good ones. I was met by a family member and her daughter. Neither one said a word, but instead, each took an arm of mine and began escorting me into the hospital. As I look back on it, the look on their faces said it all. I was led to the nurses station where I was met by a male nurse who escorted me to Allison's room, both of his hands on my arm. On the way, he asked if I knew what was going on. I said no, and he said something like, "Oh, my."...

In that split second of time, I knew my baby was gone, irrevokably and forever. I felt numb and started shaking a bit as he told me the circumstances surrounding my daughter's death: She had been found on her couch, apparently asleep, by her mother-in-law and niece. They tried to to wake her up, but were unable to. While Allison's niece tried to do CPR, the mother-in-law called 911. The paramedics continued CPR as did the doctors at the hospital, but Allison never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead.

I'd like to say that I fell to my knees and started bawling like a baby, but I didn't. I proceeded into that room and confronted one of my worst fears, the death of my child, my baby girl. Her life flashed before my eyes so fast that I wanted to scream STOP! and let me relive her life in slow motion... but that's not the way it happens.

It took only a split second of time between when I walked into the room and her life flashed before me, and when I went into male protective mode. In the room with Allison was my wife and Allison's mother-in-law, and when I saw them I shoved as many of the feelings I was having at the moment as far and as deep as I could bury them. My motive? To be strong for my wife, be sympathetic, hold her, talk to her, reassure her that everything would eventually be all right.

Now keep in mind that I'm almost 100% numb at this point. I can barely think. My brain has put me in some sort of failsafe mode so that I can function to some degree. I think I'm there right now as I try to write this, barely two months later.

I will try to write more about my time in the room and the aftermath at a later date as I feel it's important somehow to get those emotions out there, but I just can't right now. It's still too raw...and it hurts.