Loss, Change and a whole lot of Crying


“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.

 The girls


 “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.

 What now?

 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:

 A: Adorable

B: Brave

C: Courageous

D: Daring

E: Elegant

F: Fantastic

G: Generous

H: Heroic

I:  Imaginative

J: Jokester       

K: Kind

L: Loving

M: Merry

N: Needed

O: Outstanding

P: Princess

Q: Queen

R: Remarkable

S: Sister

T: Tender

U: Unique

V:  Virtuous

W: Wonderful

X: X-tra Lovable

Y: Youthful

Z: Zany


 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.


Believe in yourself

Believe in Gabby

Believe in a Cure


49 thoughts on “Loss, Change and a whole lot of Crying

  1. John, Carolyn, Madison and Katie-

    “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 am appalled at the crassness of some people. I hope that you know there are thousands of us who would NEVER utter any of the above phrases. You have all been thrown for the worst loop possible. I think of you all daily, and the pink ribbon tied to my lunch kit reminds me to be more like Gabby each day.

    Thinking of you all here in CA.

    • Wow, it’s hard to believe the things that people say, even with such a natural process (living and dying). Although, with the death of a child we don’t think of it as natural. It’s not what is supposed to happen in life. There is absolutely nothing we can say to make it better. I just hope and pray that the pain eases a bit, and your new “normal” is a bit brighter. Your family is making a difference. Please don’t forget that. Your daughter may not be physically present on earth…but she will leave a lasting legacy. I don’t know your family, but I just want to say thank you for sharing your feelings. We support your family, and we believe in your daughter, Gabby. What a precious gift she was (and is) to this earth. Her foundation may save a life. And your family will make others feel as though they are not alone.

  2. Oh John, it’s unbelievable what people will say, isn’t it? I dont even know what to say to some of them. But you can face those comments head on and tell them you hope that no one has to go through the pain of losing a child….next to that, what are some ill chosen words? I think it is a good idea to move to a new house, with new memories to build and honor. From hundreds of miles away, I support you with heart and spirit. Peace. – Rachel

  3. Thank you for writing this. I have never met you in person, but your family has deeply touched my soul. I am a better person, thanks to Gabby. I hope that writing is therapeutic for you. Please keep doing it. I look forward to reading your words because I feel like I can, in a miniscule way, feel your family’s pain. It’s a reminder to hug my kids a little bit tighter, take those little moments to answer my son(s) when they want to tell me something, and be thankful for each precious second. I imagine what I would do in your situation, and the thought is unbearable. I break down at the mere thought. My heart aches for you and your family. Just know that Gabby is making a difference in many lives. Much love.

    • Through tears and sobs, I agree wholeheartedly. i love you guys, i don’t even know you, but I truly love you all. You have made such a difference in my life. I sometimes find myself being tired and frustrated at life in general, and have shortness with my four wonderful kids. Every time, I see your daughter’s beautiful face, hear your words from the bottom of your soul, see the pain and even the sacrifice you go through to share your pain with the world. You insipre me to be a better person, if i can become half the parent you and your wife are… God bless you for sharing. Gabby lives on every day, she lives on in my daughter’s smile when I take an extra minute to hear her, or in my son’s hug when I take an extra minute to play with him. Thank you all so much for the gift you have chosen to find in this tragedy. She would be and is so proud. God bless you all in your new home, may you feel the warmth of the support you have in my home and in so many you have touched.

  4. As a pediatrician who has worked with many families who have lost a child, I want to tell you that your words are inspirational. Thank you.

  5. Hi John and Caroline
    My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Your idea to make Gabby’s name a household name is wonderful. Helping other families going through this is so important. We have been at Chop a lot lately and have met so many families in need. Many children fighting cancer were on the bone marrow transplant floor with Kyle. When we are at the beach there is a wonderful grass roots foundation call the Brendan Borek foundation. They raise money to help families with children fighting cancer. They have helped our new friends whose boys are fighting Aplastic Anemia like my son Kyle. You can visit them at Brendan ‘s Fund. They have done a wonderful job for the past 20 yrs helping people in Cape May County NJ. They would be a Great resource for your foundation. Know you are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Kim Malmstrom

  6. As a mom who lost 3 of her children (ages were 5 week old son , 7 month old daughter & a 15 yr old daughter, all at separate times) I often thought I just could not go on. But like you now know, we can and we do, mainly and in part of as those children that are still here as well as to bring our own angel (s) honor and a memory.
    The life you all live now is what I call my “new normal”. It now has fear in it. I now KNOW that the worst can happen. I now have to learn to live not just with my losses but with my fears of losing even more of my children.
    BUT I share this with you to say that while this new normal is not something I would have ever chose. There are also laughs, smiles, joys and many many other good, wonderful new memories that keep me moving forward.
    Move forward you all shall do, be it a tiny step at a time.
    I wish I were a lier to give you false hope and say the pain will leave. It won’t. It just does not stay a punch in the gut, heart aching as it is now. It in time does become a quiet dull ache. Not sure one is better then the other – truthfully. As pain is pain.
    However like I said, you all will move forward – actually you already are. Your making decisions on which is the best way to have a future.
    Notice I don’t so “move on” or “move past” – no you will move forward 🙂

    I wish I could say something, anything to help your pain, but I know first hand nothing helps.
    So please know and take as much comfort as possible that many of us BELIEVE in your family and all your plans to get Gabby’s message out and we will move forward with you. (((hug))).

  7. Hi love. I think of you and Gabby, daily. Like you say above, there are no words to express what you are feeling. Only throwing the visible glass items within arms reach will help, yet that is only a temporary fix. I can’t imagine what you are going through and having to stand up, daily. I am very proud of you, you’ve been inspiring me, not even knowing it. We lost our daughter, a little over a year ago, rare pregnancy. She was very, very little. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by, where I don’t see her little face, body, in my hands. When I do, the rush of emotions is, almost immediately unbearable. It’s even harder when I am holding her identical sister. Some mornings I wake up and before I know it, it’s night time and I remember the day but it’s all like a huge flash or a blur. A piece of me is forever gone and there is no getting it back. Yet I don’t know where to start, let a lone how to start to pick up the pieces, she was just a little baby. Not a big girl with a life full of memories. To the people who doubt or are inconsiderate, they simply don’t know what they are saying, Karma will pay those a visit who deserve it. Take a little comfort in that 🙂 They’ve clearly never lost a child, it’s very different from a relative, I personally think, it’s apart of your soul, especially for a mommy. I know our stories are extremely different, personally I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, so I commend you tremendously for being as strong as you are for your girls. You are an AMAZING mommy, take a look at Madison. SO proud of her, she is such a big girl, Katie, like you said, she is hurt, angry and scared, give her time, she will probably only come to accept it, but will always remember how great her mama was. I am still not at a point where I can smile about Kiera and not LOSE it. She was my child, it doesn’t matter how little or long I knew her, she grew inside me. There is a piece of my heart missing and each time the wind blows I feel it. Nothing will ever change that. Something my husband’s Aunt told me a long time ago, write it down, all of it. If it turns out to be a book, even BETTER, but…what you are supposed to do is start to read it out loud, over and over again until you don’t cry anymore. Haven’t gotten there yet, maybe one day, probably not. I am so sorry. Wish there was more I could do then just say or write words. If you ever need a shoulder or an ear mine are always available, even if you just need to scream at someone for a while.

  8. Praying for you guys everyday….. There are k
    No words!!!! I just keep believing in Gabby and you!!!!!

  9. I think a move is probably a really good idea. Just mentally to be in a space without so many memories will be helpful, I think. Your writing is so honest and beautiful. Please keep it up.

  10. I have followed Gabby’s story almost from day one…I myself was going through cancer treatment…and have written many times..I would not want to watch my child endure what I have..my mother watched me…she was 85 years old and you would have thought I was still five..I was still her child…I went into remission…but my mama passed away two weeks before Christmas last year..the cancer returned in May 2011.So needless to say.I am sad as well today..A first Thanksgiving for me without my mom and a first for you without Gabby..we are supposed to have those first with our parents.Not our children…My pain for you all is so deep,,knowing cancer as it has taken one of my brothers and my dad,grandparents and friends….and living it myself..Yes it is a monster..I will pray for some measure of peace that God will cover you with each passing day..I am sure you have questions about God.We all do.but He has carried me through terminal cancer…twice…just hasn’t been my time yet I suppose but I carry alot of chemo and radiation pain and lung issues…lung cancer is my enemy..Love and prayers as you struggle to get through the Holidays and the moments and months,years ahead…<3 I Believe ….. love, jill

  11. I have missed hearing from you. I am at a loss for words. I hope that your changes will help your hearts mend, and enable you to find some joy. Love to you all………

  12. beautiful, and so hard to write I am sure. You are doing whats right for you and your family and thats all that matters. Peace be with you and know in your hearts that Gabby’s memory will live on through your work and donations and the foundation.

  13. Your “update”…simply put…brought me to tears. I followed Gabby through your posts and updates and my heart broke for you and your family along with the other thousands of hearts following sweet Gabby. Your words were so honest and also inspirational…I have no idea how it feels to be in your shoes, just as no one else does. It is terrible some of the things people have written or said to you and I am so sorry for that…but as many before me have written…there are many of us that fully support you with our hearts and virtual support over the computer waves. I hope with time, your days will become easier to get through, and your family will find more sunshine and laughter surrounding you. Many prayers to you all…you were, are and will continue to be a good dad and husband to your family…to use a term my family has learned from another courageous young friend battling brain cancer right now (Jessie Rees)…NEGU (Never Ever Give Up). This is her motto for her battle and for others…but it also applies to you… So John…NEGU… <3 (((HUGS)))

  14. Your words are inspirational….your writing truly grasps the feelings/emotions any parent that had to go through what both of you have would feel. As a mother of 4 children, I cannot imagine the pain you are going through. You mentioned some of the horrible comments people have made and it is truly disgusting that there are people out there that are that shallow, hateful, and insensitive. I have been following your page since the summer, and it has really impacted me…since september, I have quite a few nights of pink skys and I truly believe it is your daughter…..
    I have always agreed 100% with everything you have written and there was a never a need for you or carolynn to explain your comments to the idiotic people out there who want to post opposition or opinions….
    Supporting you in Gilbertsville, Pa

  15. Know that so many people continue to pray for you and your family so that strength and comfort may begin to ease your pain.

  16. I am incredibly moved, touched and inspired by your honest words and your description of Gabby. I am in awe at the true strength that you and Carolyn and the girls have, whether you realize that yet or not. You ARE doing such good and amazing things in Gabby’s name and memory. With the continuation of all the GWG events and the forming of your amazing foundation, I have no doubt that you will reach people all over this country, if not the world. Your family is going to do amazing things as advocates for childhood cancer research and awareness. And, I have no doubt that you are going to reach out to thousands of families who face the same pain that you are going through. I KNOW that Gabby is always with you, she loves you forever and ever and she is SO proud of all that you are doing. I am AMAZED at all that you have done in the last two months. I think you are doing everything that you need to do for your family and that the town, your friends and family and the followers of GWG all understand and support you in your decisions. I wish you all nothing but the best and years of rewarding work and accomplishments, in Gabby’s name. What an amazing example you are setting for Katie and Madison. They are children and seeing all this through children’s eyes…someday they will be seeing this through adult eyes and I know that when they talk to their own children, someday, they will say…”Be like Aunt Gabby…and be like your Grandma and Granda, too.” Keep going, one day at a time. Keep the faith. Keep looking for those pink skies and butterflies! Keep Believing! Love, Ann

  17. The hardest thing in my life was losing my first born baby.He had trisomy 13.The pain will ease up I promise.The one thing that got me thur the death of my baby was our pastor telling me it was not good bye but see you later. The life my son had on this earth was brief, but I truly believe he’s more alive then me and you are now.My life here on earth will be short compare to what my life will be eternity in heaven.2 months after I lose my son I became pregnant with my second son.My husband was stressed thru the entire pregnancy , but God put peace in my heart to where I knew he would be alright.God has blessed me three more times since then.I still feel the pain of losing Cody , but I know he is alright and waiting for me. Put your trust in God to carry you thru he knows what you need .Even though I have been saved ,life is not always easy , but I know there is always someone there to get me thru , no matter how difficult the situation is.

    • Dana – I have never “met” another mom whose child had trisomy 13. My daughter had it as well. She lived to be 15 yrs old. She had brain shunts, G tubes, took about 100+ seizures a day and the list goes on and on. If you ever want to contact me, please feel free ((HUGS))!

  18. John, I followed Gabby’s story around the end of July and was deeply affected by this sweet little girl who was battling a horrible illness. I have never lost a child, but have lost someone very close to me, my Mother, and I was completely devestated. My life changed the moment I heard she was terminally ill with cancer and when she passed, I had a very hard time even getting out of bed to take care of my 3 yr. old. Every day I drove to the cemetary which is 15 miles away and I did it for one solid year. So even though our circumstances are different, the significant loss is so hard to bear. It took me a few years when I was missing her voice that I decided to watch some videos and when I did, I cried and cried and cried. The hole in my heart will never go away. I miss her everyday and still find myself wanting to pick up the phone and call her, but now I have the good memories of her and what we shared, not what the cancer did to her and how I watched her suffer and die. In time you will get to where the pain will be less. You will go on. You will never forget her and with the foundation she will live on to help others.

  19. John:

    What you and your family are going through sucks.

    Everyone grieves differently and if it takes you 2 months or 2 lifetimes to move on to a different phase, then so be it. You owe no one any apologies.


  20. Nothing but love being sent your way. I don’t understand why some need to be so hateful. Still believing, still hoping that some small sense of healing will come your way very soon.

  21. During Calli’s battle, We too have experienced the callous, rude, judgemental and careless thoughts and words of people…strangers, our “friends” even our family. I truly think that people just don’t know how to deal themselves, and then diarreah comes out their mouth and they mean well and think they are helping….but sometimes silence is a blessed thing.

    It is hard, try and forgive them…and move on past them, past the words…Believe the best about yourself.

    People try to take control of a situation, and they give you a limit of time to grieve and tell you what stage you should be at….hogwash- you will NEVER EVER stop grieving the loss of your baby girl.

    One of Calli’s favorite songs goes like this: “we live, we love, we forgive and never give up, for the days we are given are gifts from above, so today we remember to live and to love.”

    Each night as. We pray with Calli and Aidan, we pray for your family.

  22. Thank you is all I can say…..You are definately an insipration to those of us who complain about stupid stuff like a missing/stolen cell phone which was me yesterday and i could not believe how upset I got and then my son Blake said to me Mom its ok no one got hurt, and I sat there and just cried and said you know your right and I should be thankful. We do take things for granite so thank you for grounding me again. I do not know your family or did not know Gabby but you have touched many lives and for that I thank you.

  23. I have no words. Just tears, love, and gratitude for the awesome gift of Gabby. You are all in my thoughts and in my heart. XOXO


  24. My husband and I know all too well what you are going through. We lost our only little girl one week after her third birthday to cancer. You wake up hoping it isn’t real. There is an emptiness inside of you that can only be understood by someone who has lost a child. My heart goes out to you and your family. You will be in my prayers, for you and your children will need them and so much more to help you. Know that you are not alone in your grief.

  25. I have no words to ease your pain , I pray for healing for your family . I have no words I just give the tears to God .

  26. I just wanted to thank you for sharing Gabby and her story with all of us and for continuing to share with us how you are all doing and the changes going on in your lives. You are a fantastic writer and I hope it helps you when you do write. I can’t believe the nerve of people to ask such questions of a grieving family. I guess I will never understand some people. I hope that you and your family find happiness in your new home, Gabby will always be with you all. You all remain in my thoughts and prayers.

  27. Why don’t you believe? I had two family losses that devasted me and my family but I never had the feeling I had to wipe out of my life everything they touched…car, house, job and a community full of emotional and physical support. I couldn’t take all that away from the surviving children because I couldn’t cope. I’m sad for Katie and Madison.

    • I believe that they are doing what they feel is best for their family and the girls. You have no right to tell them how to grieve and how to deal with THEIR loss. Everyone is different.

    • Linda, did you read the same thing i just did? You are insensitive. Bravo to you that you think you could just carry on with life as normal after your BABY is ripped out of your life. keep your comments to yourself.
      Always praying for the vogels <3

    • Linda, my aunt lost her only daughter and for a year she was deeply depressed living in her house. One day my mom went to her home and packed everything that her daughter left, that was the start for my aunt healing and she was able to move forward. It was the only way she was able to get out of bed and live her life again. You may not understand why this family needs to move and leave things behind but I do understand them, and I think the best you can do is to support whatever decision they make for the good of the family. Did you read that one of the girls do not want to sleep in her room? well so you do what you need to.

    • Linda,
      I think your confused, we are not wiping anything out. We have everything gabby ever touched and she will have a room in the new house. I have a sock I found last week of hers that wasn’t,t washed. I kept it, won’t wash it. We are not leaving the community, we love this community. That why gabbys foundation will be based here. We always believe in gabby, that will never change. I believe in my family, we aren’t running away, we are moving forward with gabby and all our memories. Gabby loved the beach we went yearly. My wife said the other day she feels gabby there, feels closer to her. You can doubt us, and i’m sorry for your families loss. Was it your children? But to be perfectly frank. I have always been truthful and honest. I feel it’s people who don’t truly understand that make statements like yours. Take care and I hope your family is doing better
      John. Gabbys dad

      • I wish there were a way to prevent stupid, insensitive comments from being posted. You are taking care of your family, John and I think you guys are wonderful parents and doing everything right. <3

    • Linda: I must commend you on being a superhero I have never met one in real life, someone like you who can just take death of loved ones in stride and keep it moving like nothing every happened. How rude of you to even question this family on their healing. Every person/family deals with death and loss differently and I do not blame this family for wanting to get away I know I would want to if I lost my little girl. I believe this family is coping the best way they know how and doing what they think is right for THEIR family. You are not in any position to judge anyone about anything and in doing so that makes you a coward.
      John: you do not know me although I live only blocks from your old house but your story has touched my heart and soul. You have shown me what it is to believe in something and to cherish each day as it comes and to not take any moments with your kids for granted. I couldn’t imagine going through the pain you and your family are going through and I think you are doing an amazing job helping your family through this grief process. It doesn’t matter if you moved one state away or across the planet Gabby is in your heart and no matter where you go she will always be right here with you. Take care of yourself and know that there are people out there who are rooting for you and your family.

  28. All I can say is that you and your family are amazing. I have been following Gabby’s story for some time now. I am so very sorry for your loss and will pray for your family in hopes that you all find peace. And, John? I will always BELIEVE! Bless sweet Gabby!

  29. I have followed Gabby’s story since almost day one, and i keep up with your post on facebook. Its really sad that all this happened, and i wish i could help stop these terrible things. I could never imagine losing one of my sisters, or anything. I just want to say i hope things get better in the future. I hope that once you guys move ya’ll can start fresh and be happy, as well as Gabby. Just remember she is always gonna be with you and watching over. When i found out that her time had come i started crying, i cried so much. I may have never met her but i always think of younger kids and kids my age & even older kids as my sibilings and it made me so sad. But hopefully she is happy, & i pray for you ya’ll all the time that stuff will get better. Forever in my heart & prayers.

    Krystal Bishop
    14 years old.
    Swartz Creek Michigan

  30. I see you post that you don’t know where you will land as far as a job. I have followed your story, mostly through your eloquent writings, since I first heard of Gabby. Just a thought, but have you ever considered becoming a writer? Your words are always so true, raw, heartfelt & appropriate for your journey. I know I would purchase anything you wrote. And while most of your writing is about your journey, your pain, your helplessness and such, another thought occurs to me. You would be an excellent patient advocate, family support leader or public or motivational speaker. You have a way of enabling others to see not only read but see and feel what you are feeling. I think there is a true future in your helping others, just based on all I have seen you do and write about.

  31. I know how you feel. We lost our daughter on September 4th. A daddy is supposed to protect his baby girl. Mine was 40 when she left. The pain is still getting worse every single day. She left behind 5 amazing daughters, a husband and parents who are devastated. We all go through this awful time in our lives our own way. We have to find what’s right for us and do that.

    I don’t think people are intentionally mean when they say things. Sometimes they just don’t know what to say. They don’t understand that they don’t HAVE to say more than I’m sorry or just give a hug. They are uncomfortable too.

    Only people who have membership in this awful club can understand. I didnt know Gabby but I DO know your pain and I’m sorry. We are still trying to find counseling, it’s amazing how difficult that is.

    Daddies are supposed to “protect” their little girls from things pain and suffering, but I couldn’t and that will jaunt me for the remainder of mf my life. The last words I heard her speak as they took her to ICU, “I’m OK dad” as I was crying hysterically. She was trying to take care of me. She was so amazing.

    Sorry but I can’t see to type any more

  32. Hi John and Carolyn
    I have followed Your journey for some time now, finding you through Miettes journey.
    You have amazing strength and courage, you have made me stop, think and appreciate everything I have in my life.
    Your posts are real, raw and emotional, thankyou for sharing Gabby with us.
    I wish you all the best in your new home and continue to update us on how you are doing.
    Sending big hugs all the way from Brisbane, Australia. xxxx

  33. I find you to be so courageous and feel this move will be a good one for your family. Gabby will always be with you. She showed you that by the X marks the spot over the new house, which I said was her giving you all a kiss.

    I have followed you since my friend Diana told me about you. I pray for comfort and strength. I haven’t lost a child but did lose a sibling, so I know loss. I think you are doing all you can your your family.

  34. Dear John (and family)
    You are brave and loving despite the ‘intolerable’ loss you have suffered. I, (like thousands of others) have been following your journey, visiting the Facebook page and the website every day.
    THANK YOU for writing, and thank you for the update – I surely think we all appreciate how challenging it has been for you. You continue to inspire me in my own troubles, as an example of dignity, honesty and courage.

    Love and Wishes from London, UK,


  35. I am a complete stranger to your family. I saw Gabby’s story on the news and started following ‘updates’ on facebook. Without any futile attempts at trying to ease your pain, she HAS made a difference. Silly as it may seem to everyone, she has impacted me in a way I can not understand.
    I am the mother of 3 healthy children. It is not lost on me how LUCKY I am. Truly. But, as most parents will attest, somedays are difficult. They argue. They disobey. They make unnecessary messes. Ever since I saw that sea of pink balloons heading toward heaven, Gabby has been an angelic little voice in the back of my mind. With every whiney ‘MOM!!!!’ during the day, I cringe, but then think ‘…what the Vogels would do for one more 5-year old shriek. I’ll take it!’ I have changed my whole school of thought. I take them to the park, despite the mud; I start pudding fights; I put them in the bathtub with their clothes on. We all have the spirit of Gabby to thank for the giggles and you to thank for sharing her with the world. God forbid I ever know your pain. Your honesty is refreshing. And, I pray for you daily.