Monday, February 8, 2016

Going home

Once I decided to leave the hospital, I was standing outside of the room where Olivia died.  I was shaking uncontrollably, shivering.  My aunt, who came to simply get an update for the family, suggested to the nurse that I was in shock and perhaps they could give me something to help.  Someone handed me a prescription for Xanax.

We walked outside and it was dark and raining......  such a difference from hours before.  Well, everything was different hours before.  I had Olivia then and now I do not.  I sat in the backseat of someone's car and could hardly keep myself upright.  I slumped over and leaned onto my bag that my aunt had brought from the vacation home.  We drove to a CVS, I think, where I handed my prescription slip and my insurance card to a drive through window.  We then drove back to the vacation home.  My cousin, the one driving the boat, was waiting for me when we arrived.  She said how sorry she was.  I know that sounds very simplistic but what else could she say.  It was an accident.  Yes, a terrible one but an accident.  

I went into the house and my mom grabbed me and hugged me.  I still haven't cried.  I felt like I was walking through life as a zombie.  I sat down on the couch where my cousin Mark came to comfort me.  There was nothing that anyone could do.  I just wanted to curl up into a ball and pretend this isn't really happening.  I wanted to be with Erick and Ainsley.  I wanted my Olivia back here with me for our get away weekend.   Oh how I wanted this nightmare to be over but this is only the beginning of my nightmare.  This fucking nightmare is now my reality.  Excuse my language.  

The hospital had asked me if I wanted a social worker to come to the house to talk and I took them up on the offer.  She stopped by a little while later while I was still laying on the couch now holding onto Olivia's green blanket that she slept with every night since she was a baby.  I remember telling the social worker, Kim, that I was so scared that Erick would blame me for this and  would leave me.  At some point, I think, while I was in the hospital or later, I had inquired about organ donation.  What?  Seriously?  I consented to have any viable organ of Olivia's donated.  Someone from the organ donation department did call me on my cell and we arranged it.  I will blog about this later.   I remember feeling so tired but incredibly empty inside.  I remember still hearing my dad cry and cry and cry.  Me?  Still no t ears.  I have no idea what time it is at this point but I'm given a Xanax and I go into a bedroom to sleep.  My mom shared a bed with me.

The next morning, we woke up very early because my cousin, Mark had arranged for us to return to Pittsburgh.  I wasn't about to stay in Florida any longer than I need to.  This will later haunt me.  I left my daughter alone.  

My mom hopped into the bathroom to shower but I heard her vomit.  I showered next and then we left the house with our luggage.  Olivia's clothes were still packed in her suitcase.  I was leaving her in Florida.  Even when I type it......  it sounds horrible.  

I think I sat on the plane by complete strangers and was completely in a zombie state from the Xanax (too high of a dosage for me).  I dozed off on the plane but was startled awake by my own realization that Olivia was dead.  

We had another lay over in Atlanta, GA where I would call my friend Lori.  She had known what happened because my family had called my friend Melissa for me.  I wanted Melissa to call our friends and for someone to check on Erick the night of the accident.  Lori was a member at our church so I called her to ask if she would call our Pastor because I now have to plan a funeral.  Lori had already taken care of it.  Eventually, we arrive in Pittsburgh and back into my parent's car where Olivia's booster seat was waiting for her.  I sat in the backseat and my mom sat next to me.  Staring out the window the entire time but I could see the stickers that Olivia put on the back door.  She was everywhere but she wasn't here.  

Erick opened the front door of our split level home.   Ainsley was standing at the top of our steps and the first thing that comes out of her adorable little mouth is, "Where's LaLa".  I didn't think that my heart could break any more.  My mother-in-law was there to distract Ainsley while Erick and I went downstairs to our bedroom.  We sat on the bed and hugged each other while Erick cried.  Me?  Nothing.  I am numb.  I am dead inside.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The little things that she'll miss

Today, my friend Leslie and I went to sweat our butts off at Hot Yoga.  She and I have been going to yoga for about a year now.    Leslie's daughter, ironically enough is named Olivia, was texting her mom before our class started about this weekend's school dance.  Olivia and my Olivia were in the same grade and were on the soccer team together.

Leslie's Olivia had decided that she wanted to go to the dance on Saturday.  She then texted Leslie to tell her that a boy had asked her to go to the dance with him.  Wow, that hit me like a ton of bricks.  I don't usually let my emotions show in front of my friends but this time was different.  Sitting in a dark and HOT room, I cried.  Than Leslie began to cry.  I cried because it was so cute that she was asked to a dance and I cried because my Olivia will never get that chance of being asked to a dance.  She'll never have those butterflies in her stomach when she starts liking boys.....  there is just so much that she'll never got to experience as a 7th grade girl.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bins and more bins

When we became pregnant for the second time, we decided to find out the sex because of all of the clothing that we had stored in our attic.  Olivia had a ton of clothes.......  partially because I am a shopping addict and we had clothing donated to us by family members.  So, if we were having a boy, I was getting rid of all of those clothes that Olivia had grown out of.  THANK GOODNESS THAT WE HAD ANOTHER GIRL.  I often think about "what if".  What if we had a boy?  I would have gotten rid of Olivia's clothes and would have only had the clothes in her closet, which, by the way are still THERE.   They will stay there until Ainsley can fit into them.

On Sunday, I ventured up into the attic to look for the next set of bins of clothes.   I came across several bins of clothes that Ainsley could wear this summer, fall, next summer, next fall, the following spring, and then.......  we'll eventually hit the end of our supply.

Going through the bins, I have mixed emotions.  Some of the outfits bring back memories or where we were when Olivia wore this.  Some of the clothes I will not part with even after Ainsley wears them.  They have too strong of a connection to Olivia.   I have created a new bin of clothes that I refer to as my memory bin.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Made in China

I know that a few of my past blogs have been tough for some of my readers to get through.  Trust me, it was hard for me to write and relive but it's important for me to tell my story.

On a much lighter note, Olivia was very intrigued or maybe obsessed by where things were made.  I'm not sure if this was something they were doing in school or she just figured it out on her own but it was an interesting phase.  She would turn items over and read "made in China".  At one point, she actually got agitated that 90% of the items she turned over said "Made in China".

During this weird time frame, we remodeled our kitchen and a new dishwasher had been delivered and installed.  I was trying to learn how to use it but couldn't read the small font on the buttons due to my visual impairment.  This is the nice thing about having a child who now can read when you yourself need help reading!  Olivia actually loved helping me.  She even learned how to read the bus numbers when she  and I rode the bus home from Oakland after Kindergarten.

So, I called Olivia into the kitchen and pointed to the first button on the dishwasher for her to tell me "Pots and Pans".  OK, I pointed to the next one and she says "Normal Wash".  Great, let's see what this next one says.....  I point.  Olivia smacks her hands onto her thighs as in disbelief and says to me "See!  I told you everything is made in China!"  I'm confused so I ask her to read  to me what is printed on the button. "China Wash"!

Monday, January 18, 2016


Sitting in the private room of the emergency department, my dad suggests to me to call Erick .  I dial Erick on my cell phone and he picks up after only a few rings.  I can hear Ainsley playing in the background......  I tell Erick that there's been an accident and that Olivia is badly hurt.  He immediately starts screaming "NO, NO, NO".  I don't remember anything else about our conversation other than his cries of helplessness and fear.  I don't remember hanging up the phone.....  I just don't remember......  I do remember his cry and it haunts me to this day.

A nurse comes to the room and tells me that her name is Mary and that she can take me to Olivia.  I walk with Mary and ask how Olivia is doing.  I was NOT prepared for her to tell me that Olivia wasn't breathing on her own.

At this point, I am now having an outer-body-experience.  I am watching myself walk into a room with Olivia surrounded by medical staff.  The doctor introduces himself to me and then explains that Olivia's pupils are fixed and dilated.  I don't really know what that means but I know it's not good.  The doctor continues to tell me that Olivia sustained a significant head injury.  He gently tells me that there is nothing more that they can do for her.  A few moments go by and I try dialing Erick again but my hands are trembling so badly that I can't hit the right numbers.  The physician dials for me and I don't know what I said to my husband who is hundreds of miles away from us but he is on the other end when I say good bye to my sweet Olivia.  I tell her to go find Steeler then I buckle at the knees and curl up into a ball on the floor.  At some point during this, I hear "Time of death.........."  She's gone.  Oh my God, my first born, beautiful daughter is dead.

The nurses give me a chair and tell me that I can stay with Olivia as long as I need to.  I sat next to Olivia's lifeless body and hold her hand while my dad hugs her and sobs.  I remember showing the nurses how cute Olivia's toes looked.  Erick painted her toes and mine before we left for our trip.  It was a bluish green color.  I later learned that the name of the color was Mermaid's Tears.  Weird, huh?I also remember hearing a man in the adjacent room vomiting over and over again......  I sat back down again and held Olivia's hand.  It had that stupid pulse oximeter attached to her pointer finger.

I don't remember how long my dad and I stayed at the hospital that night but to this day I know that it wasn't long enough.

Watching your child die is the worst thing that a mother can experience but watching your child's body be placed into a black bag and zipped is, well, I have no words for it.  I wish I wouldn't have seen it.  I wish I wouldn't have said that I wanted to go back to the house.  I wish I would have never been on this nightmare of a vacation.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Deaths come in threes

Have you ever heard of that saying that deaths come in threes?  At one point, I think I actually believed that wive's tails until 2012.

While home from work on Christmas break back in 2011, I attended two funerals before the first of the year.  One funeral was for Flo.  Flo was like a grandmother to me and my husband.  She was in her 90's so it seemed natural to lay her to rest.  Don't get me wrong, it was sad.  She was a great lady but attending a funeral for an older person isn't out of the ordinary.  Flo was such a sweet lady.  She always thought of Olivia at the holidays and her birthdays.  When Olivia turned 2, Flo baked cookies shaped like the number 2 and hand painted them with Sesame Street characters on them.  This lady had talent!  You almost didn't want to eat the cookies because of their beautiful perfections.

Funeral number two was NOT of the ordinary.  Erick's cousin Kelly passed away a few days after Flo did.  Kelly was in her 30's when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.  Kelly, a mother of two, lost her battle with cancer and we said our good-byes to her on New Year's Eve.  I've known Kelly since grade school and have fond memories of her over the past few decades.  She was a vibrant young woman who was taken from us way too soon.

After the holidays were over, I headed back to work.  I remember telling my co-workers about how I attended two funerals within one week.    A couple of weeks later, I learned of the death of Mrs. Hanford, a friend of my mom's and my old cheerleading sponsor.  Mrs. Hanford, a exuberant, lovely lady, lost her battle with parkinson's disease in January of 2012.  I attended her viewing and thought to myself that this has to be the last death that I would mourn for a long time to come.