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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Accident

While in high school and beyond, my husband and I did quite a bit of boating on the rivers around Pittsburgh.  It seemed like every weekend in the summers while on summer  break that we  spent our time cruising the Allegheny River with our group of friends.  We had two close friends that owned boats so we did a lot of tuning and even water skiing.  For all of the numerous times that we spent on the river and for some of the stupid things we did as teenagers/college students,  nothing terrible ever happened to any of us over the years of boating.......   Of course, I am thankful for that.  Erick's dad even ended up purchasing a second home on the Allegheny River in which we frequented often in the summers after marriage and even after Olivia's birth.  He too bought a boat and we would fish and cruise on it every time we were there.  Olivia too also began to love the river and hanging out of the boat with us as she too loved to fish and explore  nature on the river.

When my uncle asked us if we wanted to go for a boat ride on the St. John's River on that day in March, I couldn't have imagined anything but fun.  It started out that way though.  We slowly took a few spins out on the river Olivia, my dad, and I just chatted with my two cousins and my uncle.  We weren't out very long until we decided to head back to dock because it was getting close to dinner and then this is where it all goes wrong.  My cousin, who has driven this boat before, takes the wheel and we head back to the dock.  The dock is different than the ones on the Pennsylvania rivers.   These docks are all stationary.  Docks on the Allegheny River sit on top of the water whereas the wooden dock that we would park were on are wooden pillars that are drilled into the earth beneath the water.  I learn later that the tide changes so much in Florida that they are build this way because of the tidal changes.  As we head back to the dock, my uncle is sitting in front of the drivers seat and Olivia is in front of the passenger seat in the open bow of the boat.  As my cousin tried to "park" along side the dock, the wind started to pick up and she wasn't able to slide the boat in so she reversed and tried again while my uncle instructed her.  I don't remember how many times she tried.  She then went to reverse away from the dock but instead of putting the gear in reverse, she accidently put it into drive and we slammed into the dock.  It happened to fast.  My  uncle, who had been standing in the front of the boat, put his hands up to protect himself from hitting the dock.  At the same time, he glass of the passenger side window shattered.  I remember saying, "Holy shit!"

I was sitting in the very bak of the boat with my other cousin and then ran to see Olivia laying on the floor of the boat.  Her eyes were closed and her hands were peacefully resting on the belly.  I immediately yelled towards the house, "Call 911!"

 Olivia started to groan and moan as I held her in my arms.  I thought that she was in pain because her left upper arm was swollen and her breathing was weird.  In my mind, she had a broken arm and perhaps some cracked ribs.......  My one aunt was on her cell phone with 911 while my other aunt came onto the boat and held me while I held Olivia.  I looked at my aunt and told her that I was scared.  She was too.  There was no blood........  there were no tears.......  but then things started to turn for the worse.  Olivia started to seize.  OH MY GOD.  I shoved my finger in her mouth because I started to think she couldn't breathe.  I was going to give her mouth to mouth but her jaw clamped down on my right pointer finger and I heard this awful gurgling sounds coming from her.  I tried to open her lips and blow air into her mouth.  Looking back, nothing was going to save my little girl at this point.

Just then, I heard a strange man's voice.  It was the first responders.  He jumped on the boat and another woman did as well.  The woman  asked how long Olivia was in the water.  We told her that Olivia was never in the water.  The man looked at Olivia and said, "We need to go.".  He swooped up Olivia into his arms and RAN off of the dock to the ambulance.  I followed.  The paramedics didn't allow me to be in the ambulance with Olivia.   Looking back, I think I can see why.

My dad and I followed the ambulance in our rental car to the hospital.  When I worked at Pitt, one of my co-workers was also a paramedic.  I remember him telling me that it was never a good idea to go through red lights if your a family member following an ambulance.  Well, screw that.  While following the ambulance, I let out a blood curdling scream in the car as my dad recited the Hail Mary prayer.  Neither did  any good.  Once we arrived at the hospital, we waited outside of the ambulance before a nurse came and assorted us to a private room.   My  dad asked the nurse if there was a place for me to get washed up.......  I went into the bathroom and looked at my face in the mirror.  I had Olivia's blood on my lips and on my grey tank top.  I must have washed up but I don't truly remember.

To be continued........