If you’ve read My Story on the blog, or know me personally- this won’t be much of a a surprise, or anything new to you. In January of 2010, 2 months after having my son, my Grandmother, Uncle, Aunt, and their dog Buddy were traveling from California to Florida stopping in Arizona and Texas to visit family and friends on the way, and were in a tragic car accident. They believe my uncle fell asleep at the wheel, and the SUV rolled approximately four times. My uncle was pronounced dead on the scene, my Grandma (an 84 year old Southern Belle who was tough as nails) survived the accident and was transported to University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. My aunt was transported to a nearby hospital as well and thankfully survived the accident. Their dog Buddy- who was my Uncle Barry’s best bud, unfortunately- did not.
My Grandma survived emergency surgery, incredible amounts of pain I can’t even begin to imagine, and she fought like hell and held on until she passed, on March 2nd, 2010.
I still have flashbacks to that very moment when I received that terrible phone call. I still remember being in an absolute zombie-like state when my good friend Courtney drove me to my father’s house. I still remember driving to my Aunt Debbie’s house with my Dad and having to hide my pain and shock for what felt like HOURS as we pretended initially to have just “randomly stopped by for a visit.” I still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach as my Aunt felt something was up and asked us, “What’s going on? You guys are acting strange…”, I still remember the the look on my Aunt’s face as we told her…the way her knees buckled and she fell to the floor in her kitchen screaming, “No, No, No Not my Barry, Not my brother” over, and over. I still remember the look of severe pain that all of us walked around with. I still remember the sleepless nights, the dreams, the nightmares, this awful aching pain I felt throughout my whole body that I just couldn’t escape from. I still remember the last time I heard my Grandmother speak- in mumbles and gurgling noises due to having her trach tube removed prior to my call- I still hear it, it still haunts me. I still remember their memorial service- the stories, the beautiful poetry my Uncle wrote (we have quite a few writers in my family), the Elvis, Neil Diamond, and Bob Seger that played in the background, the flowers, the long walk to the reception area after…I remember these things so vividly and yet I feel like all of it was still just a dream or an illusion. I really wish it was.
It has been 4 years, and yet I still send emails to my Uncle Barry like I have done since I was 12 years old. Even when I get the returned to sender error message- It still pains me and somehow shocks me every time. I still talk to my Grandma and ask her for strength and guidance, I still hear both of their voices so clearly at times. Sometimes my Grandma is scolding me in that harsh Virginia accent, other times it is her laugh that I hear when watching Seinfeld and remembering how hysterical she would become during that show. It hurts me so deeply that my son didn’t get to spend more time with these two incredible people.
Truly; what hurts me the most is that I wonder if I ever made them feel the love and appreciation I truly felt for them. I got into a very unhealthy and abusive relationship, I became pregnant, got busy with hiding out and trying to survive my life, I stopped emailing my Uncle regularly as I used to do, I never called, I didn’t go visit with my Grandmother as often as I said I would, often times I would flake or just not feel up to making the drive- or I would flat out lie to her because my ex had actually hid my keys, or taken my car in a bad argument.
These feelings of guilt are the hardest part for me, aside from them being gone from this Earth.
I sent my Uncle this email on January 07, 2010 at 12:43 PM.
This was the very day after the accident…this is a huge part of why I STARTED this movement. I truly believe with all of my heart in the power of writing and sharing. It wasn’t even 24 hours after this horrific news and tragedy that I sat at my computer and had to write. I have put my Pain to Paper my entire life, and I believe it has saved me from very dark times.
I remember the last phone call I had received before my Grandma had left on the road trip with my Uncle and Aunt. I remember every.single.word. I remember where I was standing (crying in the kitchen of my old house, leaning against the bar stool after a scary and terrible fight), the nervousness when I felt my phone vibrate and saw her name pop up, I remember the thought that went through my head (I can’t answer this right now, he will see my phone and take it again), I remember sending her call to voice mail, then hiding my phone under the couch cushion of my living room. I remember the guilt I felt afterwards. I remember her exact message, word for word…
“Hi Britty, It’s your Grandma! I wanted to call ya’ before we head out on the road. I bought you a rockin’ chair for you and that sweet baby of yours and it’s in the den if you want to pick it up while I’m gone, you can. Otherwise you bring that little bundle of joy over for a sleepover with Grandma when I get back, alright? I’ll make you some hot cakes! I love ya! Bye-bye.”
I wish I would’ve answered.
This is an email I had found 6 months after they had passed from my Uncle in my old email account.
I had stopped keeping in touch with family and friends as soon as I got with my ex. He was controlling, abusive, and liked me secluded; needing only him for everything. I was fearful and allowed it and became stuck in a very bad situation which I never imagined myself to be in. His words cut right through me, and woke me up in a way that I was afraid I never would.
Date: Sunday, February 8, 2009
Subject: Been A While Perkster…
Seems like only yesterday that I was gazing upon your smiling face but I realize that almost 3 years have gone by. Hope all is well with you, don’t know what you are doing these days but I am still working in the Electronic Classroom installation business. I am with another company now, TIE Today, Inc. out of Ovieda, FL, but I am doing the exact same work as I was with JIL Information Systems. I have the prestigious title of Junior Engineer (I thought that was the person who drove the little train) and as luck would have it I am currently ensconced in the Residence Inn in Waukegan, IL. Truly this is my home away from home and I’ll be here until the 27th of Feb and then we’ll probably be back in May, seems like there is an endless supply of work at Great Lakes Naval Station and the Recruit Training Center. Last week the weather was brutal had to unload 3 trucks on Tues and Weds with temps at O degrees and wind chills in the teens below zero. A little rough on my thin Floridian blood base but I managed to survive without developing frostbite. Today the sun was shining and snow was melting at an alarming rate so I put on my Speedo and tank top and laid out by the pool getting some rays “NOT” !! I am composing this email on my new HP Pavilion DV9000 laptop, it has all the bells and whistles but I’m still learning how to use it with MS Vista Home Premium, been an XP fan for many years. It has a video cam and mic built-in but I haven’t figured out yet how to use it, I think it can be used with something like a Instant Messaging program but I’ll have to do my homework and figure it out. Mom said that Kyle has a furlough coming up in April, glad he’s doing well but that is a long way to travel just to have to turn around and go back but I’m sure he’ll do what is best for him.
Drop me a line when you get a chance and apprise me of what you are doing these days, I am thinking about getting Grandma a ticket to come out in April if she wants, don’t think we’ll be making it out to Cali anytime soon especially with the economy in the shitter like it is. Take care and I miss you lots…..
Lots of love,
He was a funny, funny man. One of the best men I have ever known. I have learned a very hard yet valuable lesson about keeping in touch with those you love. Even if you aren’t getting along, have had issues in the past, just a call or email to say I love you, I’m thinking about you, I miss you- can change everything.
I encourage you to put your Pain to Paper as I have. Cry while writing it out. Take off the blindfold, expose your pain,
and truly FEEL what you have avoided for so long.
I’ll be here every step of the way supporting you, I promise.