Hurt, Pain and a whole lot of crying



 Three days ago I got drunk.  Beyond drunk, goofy, silly drunk.  During this time I talked about Gabby, yelled, laughed and cried at the end of the night.  The next day I stayed in bed till 4:00p.m.I didn’t do this because I was hung-over, surprisingly I wasn’t.  I just couldn’t seem to move out of bed.  Carolynn did, thank goodness we had just returned from the beach and the girls had a week worth of homework to catch up on.  I got out of bed for four hours and went back to bed at8:00pm.  The next day I got out of bed at2:00.  Same thing.  Don’t worry I haven’t become an alcoholic that is going to crawl in a bottle.  It’s just the pain of facing another day seems too much.

 The viewing

 I want to thank all those who attended. I apologize because I don’t remember much of it, I was in a daze, the night before Carolynn and I had to go to the funeral home and see gabby, after an hour of crying and holding her cold hand as well as kissing her what seemed like a million times we left.   The Day of the viewing we had to go to the home again and make sure everything was how we wanted it.  Another hour of crying after seeing our little girl cold and lying in bed appearing to be asleep.  The immediate family came to the viewing an hour before the door opened.  Another hour of crying.  By the time everyone started filing in we were in a haze.  I kept glancing over at Gabby hoping she might wake up as insane as that sounds.  We were told the sky was pink, a pink rainbow had formed, it was Gabby saying hello.  I wish I would have seen it.

 The next day

 We ran away.  Headed to the beach to use a house of a friend.  We were originally going for the weekend and ended up there for over a week.  One night I went out on the roof and apologized to god.  I said I’m sorry for all the horrible things I said and thought and begged for some sort of sign Gabby was still somewhere.  The sign didn’t come.  The only sign we had was the next day the family came down with an illness which kept us from at least trying to enjoy the trip.  It just felt like another punch in the stomach. 

 I had many breakdowns at the beach, Carolynn did as well. When she did I couldn’t say anything, no words can fix this, and words can’t make the pain go away.  At the beach I can count two happy moments, but each ended in tears, flying a kite for Gabby, tears. Searching the beach at night showing the girls sand crabs, but in the dark I looked up and only saw two faces.  She was missing.  Tears.



Gabby’s hands

 While at the beach one night I just started crying, begging to be able to hold her hand one more time.  I wish I would have held her longer the night she passed.  But I’ll never get to hold her hand again, she’ll never taste soda, I’ll never teach her how to drive, scare her prom date.  She’ll never have her heart broke by a boy, she’ll never be married.  All this will never happen but I keep wanting to hold her hand, smell her, and touch her cheek.  I should have done it more the last three months; she was supposed to have longer. She was cheated.

 What have I become

 It’s my opinion being the parent of a child with cancer adds years to your life.  I feel 60.  I’ve become an old angry man that scares my other two girls. For the last three months I spent everyday with Gabby, treatments, feedings, therapy. Now I don’t know what to do but cry. I’ve been absent even while I was here for the entire summer to my other two girls. I don’t know how to act around them, when they cry about something I think is trivial I want to yell, be tough like Gabby.  I don’t, but the idea I have these thoughts is sickening. I love them more than my life itself.  I would give my life for any of them in a second and switch with Gabby now if I could.  Other times I feel myself start to resent the other two girls because while gabby was a baby Carolynn took care of her while I kept the other two busy.  I realize this isn’t right and I know it’s irrational but again the thought crosses my mind.  I’m not angry with them, I’m angry with myself; during the last five years I spent more time at work than at home.  It’s an anger I can’t seem to shake.

 Home again

 Everyone is terrified of the house, Katie doesn’t want to sleep in her room anymore, and their stomachs are always hurting.  I tried to explain it will get better each day whether I believe it or not.  Even the town haunts us, I can’t go into Dunkin Donuts because at times I would grab gabby in her pajamas and go get donuts on Sunday morning, and the Sunoco down the street is a constant reminder of walks there to get candy and Gatorade with her and the girls.  The pizza place across the street another reminder of another place I won’t be able to take gabby.  How do you go on I ask,  a piece of us was torn out, our lives are over as we know it, we can never heal, no matter how many people say time heals all wounds.  It’s not true in this case, because twenty years down the road I’ll still only have two daughters instead of three. I don’t want to hear about the new normal.

 Pure anger, acceptance and denial

 I told a friend tonight I hate life, I wish everyone could feel the pain I felt.  She reminded me is that something Gabby would want?  Of course not.  I realized again I wasn’t angry at people just life itself.  I walked around the block late tonight just thinking, when I came in the door the book bag we got gabby still hangs by the door, I found her preschool backpack, in it was a pink headband, a macaroni necklace that she never got the chance to show us, and a purple bracelet she must have made.   I knelt in front of the door and cried, there was nothing else to do.   I went to her room and found her purse; it still has 40.00 in it she saved for the beach, also an old wallet of mine she wanted with fours dollars in it.  Money she’ll never spend on a doll, a little pony, on anything. I walked to the bedroom and just said to Carolynn “She can’t be gone, it’s not real, and I didn’t realize I was holding up a pair of light up sneakers and one of her socks. We just got her them last month. She wore them one time.  Acceptance doesn’t last long, denial always overtakes it.

 Here and now

 So we are here, she isn’t.  We go on and she doesn’t.  For the last three years Carolynn has been marking the girl’s heights on the kitchen wall.  The last time Gabby was measured was 5/11 the month she went into the hospital.  There will be no more lines on that wall.  We have no choice no other option to keep going no matter how hard it is, learn to accept the unacceptable, learn to love our two daughters without comparing them to Gabby. They are a mess, they are hurting like we are. The worst part is they don’t truly understand exactly why.  They know it’s because they miss Gabby. Katie told me the other day Gabby will no longer be able to talk to her, or touch her. I let Katie know Gabby is part of all of us, talk to her, when you want a hug from her, hug me, her mother , her sister, we all have some over gabby in us.

 Gabby and Cancer

 It’s been sixteen days since gabby passed away. Since then I have gone through a range of emotions regarding cancer. The first thought was: I’m done with it, what do I care if they cure it, my child has been taken from me, why should I care about others.  I realize now it was just the anger again.  Carolynn and I have discussed that one day when we are ready we will form the Get Well Gabby Foundation.  Hopefully her events will become annual and all the money raised will go towards research of pediatric brain cancer.  As much as I hurt I don’t want another family to feel these thoughts, I don’t want other family’s to struggle looking for therapists for their children, with the formation of this foundation Gabby will live on.  In my mind  doing this I can still hold her hand and say: Hey Kiddo your helping others fight the yuckies.

 Believe in Gabby

39 thoughts on “Hurt, Pain and a whole lot of crying

  1. I can’t even comprehend what you are going through and won’t try to placate you. I grew up in Phoenixville, graduated from Phoenixville High School and went to nursing school in Reading. I now live about two hours from P’ville. I miss it. Take solace in it. Continue to walk. As you said, when YOU are ready, Gabby will help others. God bless you all. Susan

  2. i cant imagine the pain your family is going threw but she was the cutest little girl ever this story just breaks my heart … gabby will live on forever ……..believe!!!!!!

  3. John, you are doing exactally what you are supposed to be doing. I can’t even imagine. I too don’t have the words and yet I have never been there. Just know there are a lot of us out here that care about you, carolyn, maddison, katie and will never ever forget dear Gabby.

  4. I wish there was a way to change what happened to your little girl. No child should ever have to go through this and it is very heart breaking. I have a 5 yr old and an 8 yr old myself and I can not picture life without them. Reading about Gabby makes me think of my kids and how short life is and that I need to spend more time with my kids every second I get and not stay longer at work when I am asked to do so cause that is time that is taken away from my kids to add that little bit extra to my paycheck. Thank you for sharing your story and for sharing Gabby with all of us. I am truly sorry for your loss and I pray for you, your family and Gabby. God bless you.

  5. Dear John … I too can’t imagine what this awful pain and loss feels like. All I can say is that you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Be gentle on yourself allowing yourself to grieve in whatever form that may take. Love to you all.

  6. I’m not going to start this comment with ” I can’t tell you” because we both already know I can’t. I am so sorry you lost your beautiful little girl. Don’t feel sorry for any of the feelings you’re having. Much love to your family.

  7. I continue to be very sorry for the loss of your dear, sweet Gabby. My heart hurts for all that you and Carolynn, Madison and Katie are going through. I will pray for you every day. I think your idea of memorializing Gabby through a foundation to help others is a beautiful idea. I will always remember Gabby and Believe in all that she and you have taught me.

  8. God, you and your family are amazing! You do whatever it is you need to do to grieve your Gabby! I love the idea of a foundation in Gabby’s honor! God bless you all!! Hugs too you all as well!!

  9. I have been following your family’s story this entire summer. I cannot begin to comprehend what any of you are feeling. I do trust that in time you will see and feel Gabby in everything. Amazingly, I know I do and I never had the priviledge of meeting her. Your brave little girl has taken up residence in my heart and I BELIEVE that in that way Gabby lives. Your family has touched and blessed my life in ways too many to count. I embrace every blog of yours because you remind me to live, Gabby reminds me to live. I continue to pray everyday for you and your family. Thank you for continuing to share your family with us…

  10. I have been following Gabby from the beginning.. My heart breaks for all of you and your suffering.. I wish there was a magical pill I can give you to take away all of your pain.. I remember one day I was watching Dr.Phil, which I never do, and a mother was just not able to get through her daughter’s passing. I am only telling you this because maybe it might just help you to deal with this terrible loss.. The father just didn’t know what to do for his wife and their were other children as well.. Dr. Phil told the woman that he doesn’t know how they feel, because he hasn’t lost a child, but he wanted the mom to think of their daughter in heaven with two bags on her shoulders.. Every time the mother cried, the bags would fill up with water and their daughter couldn’t go on and be happy in heaven because the bags were just over filled with tears.. Their daughter wanted them to go on and live their lives, so that she can be happy in heaven.. For some reason that resignated with me and I hope I am explaining this to you properly, but I hope it helps you in some way. Six months later, the family was back, and some kind of normalcy is in their lives again.. I will continue to pray for you and your family..

    • I read a similar story that says there is a candle persession in heaven and a child was crying. When an angel asked why she said her moms tears kept putting her candle out. Remember the joy she brought to your life.

  11. I feel your pain in this post, and I’m trying to find the words to say. I think that Gabbys illness was do nd short from diagnosis to physical death that its doubly difficult to process. Happy quintessential family then handling a sick baby and watch her pass away. I can say that bIg am certain your daughter is watching you in heaven, no longer such, but you want her back… This Gabby who passed on can not come back but her heart lives on on each of you and I’m certain she would want her family to be the same, just without her there. While she was the youngest she wants her sisters to feel your love too. Your wife needs riott support too, so cleave to one another…your family is beautiful with or without Gabby.. Help Gabby rejoice in heaven by watching you play on earth. Hugs.

  12. Through my tears, I am pleading with God to ease yours….pleading and believing He will. At times, the grief will feel like it is swallowing you up, but you have something stronger within – and that is LOVE…..”believe” that it will sustain you and your family.

  13. Dear John and Family, again I say NO ONE has walked in your shoes, you are entitled to feel as you wish, and you don’t need to apologize for any way you feel. Love each other every day and keep Gabby always with you all! xo

  14. John,
    thank you for sharing with all of us your special little girl. I pray for you and your family.

  15. I wish I would have known gabby…I wish my 3 year old daughter could have been great friends with her. Hearing her story makes me love my family, my daughter and my husband more each day. Life is just too short. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I wish I could do something for you…anything.

  16. I wish was something I could write in this space that would make you guys feel even a little bit better. But I know there is not. I can’t possibly, and quite frankly don’t want to, imagine the pain you guys are in. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

  17. My heart is breaking for you. You speak so openly about your pain. Something I was unable to do when I lost my son 11 years ago. I still tell people I have 4 children when all they see is 3. It is something that will always be with you…the pain. I am proud that you are able to speak so openly of your feelings. Gabby was and still is a beautiful little girl and your love for her shines on. Keeping you and your entire family in my thoughts and prayers. And please remember none of what you are feeling is wrong. God bless.

  18. John, Four years ago today I lost my brother to a brain tumor. The pain is still there and very very raw. He’ll never know my son, although I see so much of my brother in him. And he loved children and would have spoiled his nephew rotten. It’s not fair, I feel that way all the time.
    I don’t know when and I don’t know how but eventually the anger will subside and you’ll learn to live with the hurt that will just always be there. For yourself, for Carolynn, for the girls. Until then, hugs and strength from all the people that don’t know you but still care so much!

  19. No words. A thought for the girls, Jamie Moyer of the Phillies has a foundation for grieving children. I went on the website last week and was going to contact them. Than realized “This is not my place”. Maybe this is an avenue for the girls, might help you as well. I don’t know, again no words. God Bless

  20. God made each of us different, with different feelings and different viewpoints. NO ONE can feel what YOU are feeling. It’s so easy for it to be said “Stay Strong” – it has to be the toughest, most horrible thing ever. There are lots of people in your shoes, but none who FEEL like you do. I have lost close family members, some at a very young age. Writing about it has always helped and from reading what you write, you are getting the feelings out there. Someone else mentioned that you have a way with words and should write a book. Perhaps that is YOUR thing to do.
    Continuing to pray for you and your family and will never forget.

  21. Gosh, I just read every word that your so painfully wrote sometimes stopping to try and imagine the pain that you are going through. I try but I don’t live it every single day and every single minute like you do. I am so sorry.

  22. be sad for you, but let go of being sad for Gabby. She is in Heaven with perfect peace, joy and love. Where she is now she wont even blink of trading it for the things of this world. She is with her heavenly father, who loves her perfectly and believe it or not right now loves you perfectly too. God uses all things to work for the good of those who love him. Only He can help you heal so you can help heal your other two sweet, little daughters. I know everday must feel like an eternity to you in this much pain but our life is a spec of time compared to the Eternity you can spend with Gabby. It is not goodbye, but see you very soon and im so glad you are happy, and dont have to deal with the pain of this life any longer. Love and Prayers for you sweet family.

  23. there are no words I can express to tell you how much I hurt for you all!!! I wish I could take it all away…rewind time, spend more time, make more memories…Know we are here for you!!! Anything you need!

  24. Wow. I would like to think that when asked you would say three daughters, because your heart had three daughters, and then you can explain if you feel the need to explain. This way you always have what you started with.

  25. I think very soon, I want to use that hand-style picture, It really says so much. I’m glad you are doing the foundation- there is no better way to celebrate or memorialize a life or a battle. Please don’t drink, that is a scary persona.

  26. John, It will be 9 years in two weeks that we lost our son to a long battle with brain cancer. I still have three children and will always have three children since I will never lose the memories and the love that lives in my heart for my youngest, Zach. It will be an emotional ride with your family just try to remember that each of you will grieve in your own way and try to be there for each other. There is a grief group at CHOP that was very helpful to our family and my husband attended one at a local church about a year after our son lost his battle. My husband had a really hard time accepting Zach’s passing and used to disappear for hours to be by himself. It is really hard to go on with the “normal” things in life but you need to do this for your other children….they need to know they matter. Gabby would want you to go on and do the “normal” things in life…she is smiling right down on you and cheering you on.

  27. My post is not meant to create issues. I have kept quiet while reading so many posts here and on facebook that keeps telling John to “get it together” (in different words) as his wife and 2 daughters need him.
    This is not a choice John is making. The pain is in control of him right now. Many of you have followed this family for quite awhile and you each know what a wonderful dad and husband he is to his family.
    Please! I from my own experience of losing a child implore each of you to stop saying these things to him. I know your heart is in the right place but this only brings him more feelings of guilt.
    Trust John, his wife and their families to give him the guidance, strength and if need be a “kick in the pants” as he fights to find his way again. If he needs extra help again trust his family to guide him towards that avenue.
    Again, I know as I myself heard these same type of things said to me many times when my child died, it only made me feel worse and I questioned my own worth as a parent.
    My friends and family watched me closely and seen I was striving to return to my new world and they allowed me to return at my own speed, while they watched over my other child.
    PS: Please do not respond to this post and turn this blog into a argumentative place. I am only posting this in hope that others will understand what I am sharing.
    I post this with ONLY respect and caring for Gabby’s family

    • PSS: Of course posting groups, people and locations of where to get extra help and guidance at is very helpful. I did not mean to imply other wise.

  28. John- Your family and my family are unfortunately in similar circumstances. It sucks.

    Take the time to grieve however you need to. For me, visiting Joey’s grave has been helpful, taking little knicknacks and flowers and making the place look nicer etc helps me feel like I’m still able to physically provide some sort of care to him. Talking about him at home is helpful, sharing dreams or experiences of where we forget for a moment that he’s not gone and then coming to the realization that he is gone and he’s not coming home is helpful. I can’t tell you how many times we go through that unfortunate realization here.

    Please try not to punish yourself for working when Gabby and the other girls were young– you are a breadwinner for the family, that was how you were taking care of everyone. Maybe you weren’t there in person for all those hours you were at work, but you were still giving them something by virtue of you providing for them. That was your role.

    I have lots of anger and resentment, and I’m ashamed to say at times that while I’m happy that others are surviving with their brain tumors it really pisses me off that Joey wasn’t (and that Gabby wasn’t either) one of those who seemed to be able to beat the odds. Why not our kids, why were they taken so quickly? It’s not fair. I feel anger and resentment when I see posts about other situations where they’ve had many good years and are just now having recurrances, and I think at least they got those extra years, why not our kids. It’s hard for me to be excited when I read about someone else’s kid having a clean MRI, or someone else’s kid surviving long enough to be going to college etc. I feel bad at the same time for having those feelings and I know I shouldn’t feel bad for having them, it’s okay, it’s normal. We were robbed of the most precious thing of all, our beautiful children.

    I hear you about getting angry about your other two crying over what seems like trivial things.. I go through the same thing with my other two, I want to say something but I don’t, but I must admit I wasn’t exactly the most loving wife a few weeks ago when my husband was having some physical problems. I did tell him to buck up and stop complaining because compared to our son who went through a lot more and never complained, what he had was nothing. Not exactly nice, eh? Part of me feels bad for saying it, but the other part of me really feels that way.

    Anyways, just wanted to share some experiences of another newly bereaved parent (we lost Joey 8/27 so we just passed the 1 month mark). This weekend was the first time since Joey died that someone asked me how many children I have. I said 3 (which includes Joey) and left it at that, didn’t want to go into any explanation and be a downer. I will always have 3 just not sure how to explain without making others feel bad that the youngest is no longer with us. You will always have 3 as well. I am, however, avoiding places that we would go to as a family or that Joey would go to because I really don’t think I can handle answering any questions that might involve Joey.

    You are not alone, unfortunately there seem to be a lot of new angels who once had brain tumors, there really seem to have been a lot of losses this summer. There are many other fathers and mothers who are going through this and it really sucks. I’m sorry that you and Carolyn have to be amongst them.

  29. John
    You will always have 3 daughters!!!!
    I losed my little one 25 years ago in a house fire
    She was 11 years old then….
    Once in a while when the phone rings I think maybe it
    could be her….. There was nothing to say good bye to….
    BUT you will feel peace and smile one day when you think of Gabby
    without any tear Until then you are where you need to be…
    Go throu all steps You and your family will get throu this together
    Tons of love coming your way
    You and your wife ever needs to chat I am always around !!!

  30. you have the answer already in the last few lines of your comment john or at least as much as any of us do