“Sorrow makes us all children again – destroys all differences of
intellect. The wisest know nothing.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
2 months past
Gabby left us on 9/11/2011. So easy to type, four little words and a few numbers….. Acceptance, one little word……impossible to do. The last few months have been horrible. The girls, Carolynn, Work and just living have become blurred together. We wake up to struggle through the day just to make it to sleep again. I have horrible nightmares of Gabby sitting on the bed looking the other way crying help me Daddy! As loud as I scream she won’t and can’t turn around. Obviously sleep is no longer safe anymore. The house is quiet except for the constant arguing of the girls. My family is broken and shattered. Therapy hasn’t helped yet, however everything is so new, over time I’m sure it will benefit all of us. There was a month were Whiskey late at night helped, I’ve moved on. I understand that drinking doesn’t solve anything. I need to be clear headed, I need to be strong, I’ve never been a big drinker I received a case of beer in February as a gift, when Gabby got sick in May most of the beer was still in my fridge. I’m not a fan of Pills either; it took the doctor years to convince me to take fish oil daily.
I stopped taking one of the medicines, it made me feel tired, legs felt heavy. Not a feeling I liked. I still take one medicine I assume it helps; I can feel it making it harder for me to cry. Sometimes I break through it and cry away. I can’t really look at Gabby’s pictures or her videos without breaking down. The world seems alien to me, less bright, harsh and cold. But I still wake up and go through the day because when it comes down to it what other choice do I have. I have two other beautiful daughters that need help and they are why I go on.
“I hate you”, you don’t deserve to be anyone’s parents”, “Liar”, you can’t protect me and you couldn’t protect Gabby” All these gems are the things Katie has said to me. I try to just look at her and say I Love you. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I have never said this and I never will, I fight the urge to say be more like Gabby, she was strong and courageous! I know that thought is wrong and I don’t actually mean it. I realize the girls are hurting and this is a way to cope. Kate seems to want to hurt others. I would guess it’s to try to make them feel as bad as she does.
Kate told me a few weeks ago she told Gabby she wished she was never born. She actually thinks that may have played a role in Gabby getting sick. You and I know this is ridiculous, but to an 8 year old the power of words is strong. I explained I must have said that about my little brother a million times and I never meant it. She did nothing wrong. Her response was quick and to the point: “ But Uncle Derek is still here”. No words. Kate refuses to sleep in the room she shared with Gabby, each night she falls asleep in my bed, before I go to bed I used to carry her to her bedroom. I no longer bother anymore. A queen sized bed with two adults, a little girl and a dog. This could explain the difficulty in falling to sleep.
Maddie was our first born; she’s always been a daddy’s girl. She wears her emotions on her sleeve. She has become quiet and withdrawn. Doesn’t like to talk much. I discussed the grieving process with them a month ago. A few weeks ago she called me into her room and said “dad I am at the acceptance phase. I know Gabby is dead” Seriously what do you say to a ten year old girl who is discussing the acceptance phase of Grief after her five year old sister leaves this world? There are no words.
I sit and watch Maddie and Katie daily; each time they sit next to each other I see the empty spot on the other side. A spot that should have Gabby. When we used to go out to eat I would take pride in the fact that people would see us walk into a restaurant with three little blondes and say “how sweet” Now I keep my head down and only see two little hurting girls and an empty seat.
Things people say:
Just a list of things we hear or have heard
- How are you holding up?
- How are things?
- Are you going to have another baby?
- You’ll get past this.
- People die, it’s what happens.
- She’s in a better place.
- It was what she was placed on earth to do.
- Gabby is a hoax.
- You’re taking advantage of the death of your child.
I realize most people don’t know what to say and try to say something to break the silence; I truly understand that and look past the words. However some people are just incredibly hateful. I would switch places with them in a second, some people that want to know what donations we received, what we plan on doing with them, etc.
I had one person say we were getting a trip to Disney out of this situation and we should be happy. Seriously? Nothing can replace my daughter, a trip, money to pay the bills, nothing. I want them to feel the pain that we feel inside, the emptiness, the realization that the beautiful little girl I helped make will never hold my hand again, will never rub my unshaven face and say “rough” then rub hers and say” smooth” There isn’t even a way to describe it in words, it’s just not possible. So for those out there that want to know, the money is paying medical bills and what is left will go into Gabby’s foundation which we are hoping to start early next year. It will be a way for Gabby’s name and spirit to live on forever. We won’t stop till it’s huge, till it makes a difference, till she makes a difference. Research, Awareness, and Helping other families going through this nightmare. I don’t want any other families to know this horrible feeling, Carolynn and I will make sure we don’t rest till Get Well Gabby is known worldwide as a true Advocate for our children and yours dealing with this.
Work, Status and Stuff
Went back to work, Life goes on, bills have to be paid. The job didn’t change even though I was told it did, I worked for two banks and the one I work for now is no different than the one I used to work for. Micro management isn’t an issue, I can deal with that. The issue was I had to listen to someone tell me the company doesn’t care what you did in the past, today is all that matters. Trying isn’t good enough and if certain people aren’t on board they should raise their hand and let it be known. I know this philosophy I’ve heard it before and it’s the world of sales. I didn’t expect special treatment but a month of getting back into the way things work would have been nice. I’m very good at my job and could still be. However the second week I was back I listened to this lecture and issues with my branches performance since I had been back. Just an FYI I came back to having no sellers and a new banking system. Looking at it, if I was in a place to know I had an employee coming back to work after 4 months I would make sure there was a plan in place not to leave them without a seller and feeling that they have a target painted on their head, I would make sure they didn’t feel like management was watching them to see when they would slip up and riding them to make sure they could handle it due to a life changing event. But I’m a people person and always have been, I understand the sales cycle and that my employees are here to help me not hold me back. Not everyone gets this. The Job didn’t change I did. I couldn’t look pass the negativity anymore. It was that day I realized I needed to leave and find a more positive environment to use my abilities. Wherever I land I will make sure to give all I can like I’ve done in every job I have ever had. I take pride in what I do and pride in any company I work for. I’m not a dreamer I know I have to work; I love my company it’s filled with a group of amazing, supportive people. I’m just at a point where I need to do something that matters. And whether or not you have overdraft or a sixth checking account just isn’t that important to me anymore.
I’ll continue to write, and make sure Gabby’s story is heard. I’ll make sure all of these amazing children live on, are recognized for the amazing ability they have to fight on. If they earn their wings they won’t be forgotten, they will always matter and will never be a statistic. If I’m half as strong as Gabby I can help change the world.
The foundation will be formed; money will be raised for others dealing with this, the ones who don’t know where to look or how to deal. We will be there, Gabby will be there. She will leave her mark on this world, she will live through other children as they fight their brave battle and show the world what’s important, what matters.
My family is truly blessed to live in such an amazing community, our town showed so much compassion and caring for a family they have never met. There are so many people that took time out of their lives to help, to guide, to just be there. We will be forever grateful to them and all of Gabby’s supporters (close to 18,000). Whether Your from Phoenixville, the surrounding area, a different state or country, Thank you.
With that being said changes had to be made. Carolynn won’t go downstairs to the room where Gabby left us, as I said earlier Katie won’t sleep in her room. Our house is cold, dark and lonely. Even with the four of us here the paint is duller, the yard is dark and quiet. Dunkin donuts and Sals bring tears to my eyes. I can’t be at one place without starting to cry. So we decided we had to move. The foundation will still be based out of Phoenixville with the people who helped us now helping us run it. We plan on having Gabby’s Celebration at her park on a yearly basis every October 9th to give back and say thank you to the community. The 5K race, the princess and pirates event at O’grady’s, the softball tournament, Goals for Gabby and more will continue. Not for us but for Gabby and the other children this monster has taken and continues to take. We won’t rest till the foundation is a household name. All the money raised will go towards awareness, research and other families.
So please Phoenixville know we are not abandoning you, the town and you are a part of us and always will be. You’re our very large extended family. We are not running away from Gabby and all these memories we are taking them with us to a new environment where we can start to heal and start new memories. We are taking Gabby with us but remember she’s a part of you as well. You helped make a difference in her life and ours. A part of her will always be in Phoenixville, the pink sky above the town, the butterflies on the trails of the Lock. She is there; look for her, look for her in you and the greatness she brought out in all of you.
When Gabby started this battle I used to write all the things that made her smile and laugh, as time went on there were no smiles and laughs. Just pain. The smiles and laughs haven’t returned but words to describe Gabby will always be there:
X: X-tra Lovable
So tomorrow will come and we will wake up. That’s all we can do. Wishing to wake up from a nightmare isn’t an option. We are living in a nightmare trying to figure out how to cope. The world goes on and we go on with it. We are facing the greatest challenge of our lives and even though we lost Gabby here on earth she has never left our sides.