The day war was declared- your Nana, a survivor of living history,remembers that Sunday well like it was yesterday.
It was one of those defining moments in life. A war, that saw your grandfather have his youth , innocence and joie de vivre ripped from his being , not to ever fully come back to him.
Their young lives changed forever by a few words spoken on that September 3rd .
Your life was changed forever and ended by words – you have cancer
I know that I have changed but I hadn’t realized how much. Last month a gift- a VHS tape – found on the floor of the garage-
Your dad brought in the bag of VHS tapes and started to play them. There you were, once again, your childhood played out in the pool, on the soccer field , rowing boats , Christmas morning, skiing laughing and loving with us
I still can’t watch most of the tapes , it is like trying to breathe underwater. Looking at the dance tape of Nikki with Braedyn and Gavin – little Braedyn glued to the screen as his mummy danced, Gavin telling his mummy – you are beautiful
I saw myself , the MC of the event taking center stage – I was so confident, knowledgable , open to the audience , carefree, laughing, smiling and welcoming. I saw myself in a swimming pool with our family, your sister and friends racing the lengths of the pool , the music of laughter rang once more in this house as the tape played and those voices of summer came back from the past. .
And then a Christmas morning , the living room which held so many Christmases, your Nana and I sitting on the couch surrounded by presents , the noise, everyone talking at once, the puppy – that was Sheena , the paper wrapping making a pile in the center for Sheena to attack. What struck home with me was the laughter and conversation in which Nana and I were engaged. We didn’t stop talking and laughing – I was confident enough to make a complete fool of myself with the most horrendous pair of earrings. I still have those damned earrings , but I no longer have you or the me that I was.
I knew I lost ME when you got cancer and died- but I hadn’t realized how much of me I had lost . I was looking at another person, not recognizing her at all anymore. She died too and I grieve for the faces of life caught in a web of video. I grieved for the loss of laughter, happiness and confidence. I am so different , no longer the daughter, wife, mother , friend and neighbor of before.
I am reminded by the collage that will play such an integral part of the book I am writing “of you”
Confidence Gone- I opened up to you and my lack thereof – in Texas on another September day as you wrestled with cancer and untruths- set in a holiday setting of palm trees and sparkling waters – I spoke to you that day – unsure…
You see when a son marries he brings into his life another woman- it is very difficult in the best of circumstances for a mother to sit back and watch decisions being made that in some cases I did not agree with in a normal situation- this terrible situation we find ourselves all thrust into makes it doubly hard. But I have deferred to you both and to her “medical expertise” with this obscenity of Hodgkin’s that has engulfed us. It has been one of the hardest things in the world for me not to interfere or to put in my two cents. There have been times Chris, when I have doubted my own abilities and lost confidence in myself – I have gone against my own gut feelings and yet there is a voice that tells me to still be protective of you .
and so I continue – no longer me – no longer with hope, no longer belief in a greater all knowing supreme being, no longer happy, welcoming and confident just a transparent shell of before…. whose smile only surfaces when two little boys break through the endless night of losing you…….. the other self
This anniversary week , of what used to be love and celebration, has arrived and with it gulping pain. Gulping, because I hold my breath to stop the tears from burning my eyes, blinding me , trying to breathe and all that happens is I gulp for air as the tears flow unabated.
Chris, the day of your birth , as you left me to start a life of your own also found tears , tears of happiness , I gulped and tried to breathe as the contractions became intense , waves of pain then too, but at the end of the pain insurmountable joy. My son, you my beautiful baby boy, put into my arms for the first time.
There were wonderful birthdays that followed but I hadn’t been able to remember them because of your last birthday . Your first and then your last birthday and remembered pain
Once again in a hospital , but I was not surrounded by those that loved me, just clinical cold and vacuous clowns.
My whole being was fraught with worry that morning , my insides were shaking and sick with fear, what would they find? My son going under a surgeon’s knife – cutting into your neck to see if the obscenity of the curable cancer had once again beaten the ” treatment”.. I just wanted to go somewhere quiet away from chatter with my thoughts. I didn’t want to be polite. I just wanted peace.
They coffee clutched the time away with their frivolous discussions of fashions, cake , birthdays and celebrations seemingly without thought of how this would affect those that did truly love you ). If there ever was a time where I heard my own grandmother’s voice it was then ” Remember Loraine, breeding will out”
I wanted to scream and shake them as the grandmother decided it would be a good time for a betting game- we were all supposed to pick a time from the time your name came on the big board informing us you were now in the operating room as to how long it would take for you to be under the knife and the time of the surgery .
“Angela, (Ritchey now Murphy http://my.clevelandclinic.org/staff_directory/staff_display.aspx?DoctorID=16147 ) it isn’t fair though you can’t be part of this as being a doctor you would know the answer – giggle, giggle, giggle” Lisa what do you say? Frank? 45 minutes, 55? an hour?
and so it went.
Nikki had excused herself and I was left alone with them. I ignored the game as best I could and tried to ignore them, all the while wishing they were somewhere else – anywhere but there, but the puerile woman would not shut up –
Come on Loraine you must have a guess, join in – otherwise you won’t win! Angela , do we have time to go to the cafeteria – Loraine isn’t it your birthday too in a couple of days – it is Chris’ today isn’t it – will you have a party, what kind of cake, will your mother be baking one or two?
Shut Up! are you all so damned insensitive you can’t see your imbecilic diatribe is ripping me apart, I don’t care about your nonsensical games , I am in torment that my son will die- can’t you see our pain you stupid,selfish people?
So I haven’t even been given the gift of remembering HAPPY birthday, as the gift I received that last birthday was the gift of death.
Surrounded by the clowns of control who carried on their narcissistic thinking and behaviors until the day you died and beyond.
And yet, this week I did receive a gift of you. I don’t know why , then again maybe I do ,but a video tape ( yes a VHS tape) fell out of a bag in the garage, your father, curious, picked it up. None of us can remember how or why the tapes were in the garage of all places – the basement- I could see but why they were in the garage that sits at the end of the garden separate , full of tools and junk is beyond me.
The tape, was of your sister dancing at an event when she was 21. Your dad brought in the bag of VHS tapes and started to play them. There you were, once again, your childhood played out in the pool, on the soccer field , rowing boats , Christmas morning, skiing laughing and loving with us .
I could only watch a little bit at a time as it too caused pain that is indescribable but it affirmed to me the gift of ” her thoughts”- that Nikki and I wouldn’t like) I received from your bride Angela Marie Lombardi Ritchey Murphy ( now remarried )
you know the “healer” – the words -
“I think your intense love for Chris shielded you from getting to know who he completely was.
and not forgetting how Dr. Angela ( Ritchey) Murphy wrote 4 months after Chris’s death writing to tell me
my son although he would defend me even when I didn’t deserve it – would put me in my place-
Angela’s gift of compassion??? so thoughtfully given…..
Yes, as painful as it was to look at my son enjoying his life with his family before those cretans of control and the insidious crew of cruelty and self entered our lives- watching what I could bear to watch of those tapes only reminded me that
I knew my son and he loved us and his place was with us and still should be .
My gift to you , Chris is my heart, the truth, and your story, the book I promised to write for you !
and the hope that one day I will be able to look upon your face ……
ED NOTE: Charleston Village Society
received the notification a few days ago , Eric Barnes’ Heroes Walk, received a nomination for the 2014 Award. Since we were required to send in information about the project and since our “defense” of the property caused such “blathering” recently,
I thought it would be a good time to share our response to the Awards Committee. We may not win but the people who have given so much are most certainly winners already!
ERIC BARNES’ HEROES WALK – Lorain County Beautiful 2014
A small pathway was originally planned as a way to connect the area known as Settlers’ Watch, 2nd Street and Oberlin Ave. to the area where Charleston Village Society Inc. had recently completed The Admiral King Tribute Site, 1st Street and Hamilton Ave. . The area of brush and trees in between the two sites had become a dumping ground for all manner of trash, garbage and undesirable activities within this Lorain’s oldest neighborhood. It took 25 loads of 5 ton dump trucks to clear what is now the area known as Eric Barnes’ Heroes Walk.
At the same moment in time as this clearance was happening, Lorain City Council was looking to honor Eric Barnes, who had been killed in action in Iraq. Councilman Dan Given asked if Charleston Village Society (CVSI) could do something in his honor. Since we already had the Eric Barnes Eagle tree carving at Settler’s Watch
What started off as a simple walkway then grew as more information on Lorain’s lost heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan was researched. The walk became a huge project and is being done in three phases. The initial phase laid out the gardens of tribute for all the young men (to date) who were killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, who were also born in Lorain.
As you walk along the pathway, you will see signage depicting the personal information for each hero- a bench where one can sit and enjoy the views of Lake Erie, their own garden space and piece of individualized art work. Each of the heroes’ families were contacted as to what they would like to see the signage , which was designed by volunteers and paid for with donations from the community , as to the verbiage and which spot along the walk they would like for their sons or brothers as well as any favorite plants .
CVSI raised the money for the signs, plants, art work and expenses encountered through donations to our 501C3 s. The community also donated plants, trees and labor. Two of the benches, are from the now demolished Lorain Admiral King High School. The benches donated by class member were repurposed and were placed in the tribute spaces of the two Lorain City Schools graduates, Marine Lance Corporal David Hall and Army 1st Sgt. Bruce Horner. The other benches for Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Giese and Army Sgt. Louis Torres are also made of recycled material.
CVSI, as with the Settlers’ Watch site which is 95% repurposed and recycled material, including the trees and the mulch and the Admiral King Tribute Site which is also 100% repurposed and recycled ( apart from the flags which fly on the ship’s mast flag pole), has focused on recycling and repurposing for Eric Barnes’ Heroes Walk .
All the lighting is “solar” and the pathway itself is being covered with recycled concrete, when we can acquire it, this also fits the requirement for the Americans with Disabilities recommendations. Phase Two was completed this past spring.
As we continue with Phase Three of the project, the community will find the United States Marine Corps. Monument being placed and a flag pole. The site has been prepared for that aspect of the walk thanks to the City of Lorain who actually own the property. The tree carvings from the tree lawn on 2nd Street will also be re-positioned along the walkway as they are being refurbished and the wood stabilized.
We have received in kind donations of lighted bollards, (yet to be placed) more trees and plants as the site grows. 100% of every monetary donation goes toward the site. However it is the labor and in kind donations from the community, as a whole, which make this honor for our heroes even possible.
Eric Barnes’ Heroes Walk which started as a simple “pathway” has now become a place of tranquility , reflection and beauty , a place honoring Lorain’s young men who gave their all in this most recent of wars. The gardens along the winding path, once a place for dumping trash, are now places of pride within the neighborhood. Every summer evening will find people walking, children playing on the green spaces neighbors enjoying the cooling breezes. There is once again a sense of community, as noted on the 4th of July , as families gathered respectfully to watch the 4th of July fireworks and the freedom they represent- earned at the ultimate price to pay by the young men honored along the walk of heroes . This special place is reminder to all who now enjoy the sights , sounds , the fragrance of blossoms of our freedom every day and a pride has returned in this Lorain’s oldest and much abused over the decades , neighborhood.
You shared everything, as you grew beneath her heart and became part of her heart. The wrenching trauma of birth as her body is loathe to let you go from her protection, as the child of love finally is ready to face life.
The mother, she will remember those hours for the rest of her life and the mother, that outlives her child will never forget , no matter the months, years and decades that pass the day her child leaves this life . The pain of childbirth will pale beside the pain of loss.
August 17th such a sweet baby boy was born – his whole life consisting of but few months. His mother, especially, will face the morning of August 17th ,as it dawns once again, remembering love , remembering the child of her heart – her child of undying love – her baby’s birthday- a birthday remembered and never forgotten as long as she lives.