December 11th- The beginning of the beginning
ED NOTE: I don’t know how I am going to write this today- I have been told due to the surgery earlier in the week not to blow my nose – ( I won’t go into detail)- that is hard not to do when tears are streaming down cheeks and all that goes with that. Writing about the events of the past year has been tremendously difficult – there are times I am crying so hard I can’t see- but our story has to be told- the truth must see the light of day because Chris is worth every tear , every word- He was taken from this family- by Cancer and by self-serving cruelty – this is the story as it effected and still effects this family and it will be written – it is the only closure given to me………….
December 11th 2009- was a Friday – for 8 days we had walked zombie like through life- the shock of losing Chris still not allowing reality of the situation to sink in. In hindsight the signs of what was to come were there but unnoticed –
1. Moving our son from one ICU to another by the “committee of control” without even discussing it with his parents or sister.This act caused such a trauma to his poor body – heart rate up to 169- shock to his already compromised system- But of course this is the same decision-making bunch that decided it would be perfectly fine to send him on a 18 hour journey via trains and cars when he couldn’t cross the room on his own. I have said it before
Remember that night Angela you and your parents were making arrangements to put him on a damned train to Texas. You felt ( even with your medical background) this young man who couldn’t make it to the bathroom would be able to leave at three in the morning on a train to Chicago, change trains, to Austin and it was only a three-hour drive to Houston from there…..
Personally I am not sure what you people use for brains at times.
2. Neglecting purposely(imho) to tell us of our son’s deteriorating condition after moving him to that ICU which caused us all angst and Chris to fail further.
3. Allowing total strangers to us to crowd into his room and sitting holding a death vigil- I still to this day don’t know who they all were- and that was something that would have caused my son such anguish- after he could no longer speak (because of the vent) you allowed the ” death clutterers to oggle and text around his dying body” disgraceful behaviour and totally lacking respect. And there was nothing I could do- because I still had hope and every thought was for Chris and I didn’t want to cause him further distress when he did come off that vent- (you see I always thought he would.)
Oh! the list of ‘control incidences” continued unchecked in our time of losing. Two more incidences I just found out about this past week.
Maybe had my mind not been full of disbelief at losing Chris I would have seen the pattern starting to emerge.
Maybe I would have realized my son , had become to them a commodity- a possession not a son , child, brother but something to be owned by the Lombardi and Company .
Maybe I would have not been taken by such surprise when a call came from the Boyer and Cool Funeral Home (8 days after my son’s death and ONE week after Angela (Lombardi) ritchey had agreed to cremation and the decision of Chris’s ashes) stating that I need to meet with Mr. Cool. These “people” didn’t have the common decency or courage to face us personally with one of the most personal decisions one can make .
That morning of December 11th my mother was here staying trying to deal with her own pain- worried about me and the state I was in and my husband when the phone rang. I knew something was wrong- apparently my mum hadn’t even been acknowledged at the memorial service – no concern for her by the dry-eyed controllers –
I threw on something to wear and ran over to the funeral home. What a sight I must have presented wild-eyed with grief and confusion. I was met by Bob Cool- he said ( and I paraphrase- I was at the time having trouble processing his words)
Angela has decided not to honor the request for the division of Chris’s ashes.
I was perplexed-
How ? Why? She agreed a week ago- we have made arrangements for my mum to fly home with Tony – to release Chris’s ashes in England- we have made arrangements for our own service of closure here in Lorain- things have been put in place so that we can say goodbye in our way – Does she understand what this means to this family? Does she have any idea what this will do to my husband, Chris’s sister, all of us ? THIS IS A WICKED, WICKED THING THEY ARE DOING..
Bob Cool handed me an envelope and written on the lined notebook paper was the explanation
“After much thought and consideration on what Chris would want, I have decided not to separate his ashes. This decision was not made as a reaction to recent events. It was not influenced by family or friends. Religion did not play a role. I reflected on what Chris would want me to do….
Then came the diatribe of Chris not being an organ donor and wanting to leave this world with what he came with………
I knew up until Chris’s last drivers licences ( he had cancer by then) that he always had been an organ donor. I have his previous license.
None of this was making sense -
Recent events – I hadn’t spoken to her or seen her since the morning of Chris’s death.
What was she talking about???- getting her busy body mother out of my son’s ICU room when we were all told to leave… Not religion Religious beliefs I could have understood -but she clearly states that wasn’t the case. I didn’t understand
“leaving this world with what he came with”
My mind was racing I said out loud to Bob Cool
” Does she even know what cremation is – what happens in the process? She a damned Dr. (supposedly) does she not know what happens to organs in the cremation process- this reasoning ( if wasn’t so wicked and callous) would be laughable..not an organ donor this decision is wicked wicked wicked and totally wrong. To base all the pain and turmoil this will cause to my family on such reasoning- it is unbelievable……….
How can she change her mind? You all witnessed the agreement- she stated her decision and agreed in front of witnesses
Yes, she has legal rights but there must be someway to stop this to appeal through her church – to initiate a legal process as to binding verbal contracts under Ohio law – and then the thought struck me:
Chris was not cremated yet- they- I know that family are all about “embalming- Cadillac casket and burial something that is abhorrent to me and I knew my son’s thoughts on their ceremonies only too well- but this way was preferable to them and they obviously were not considering anyone else but THEM.
I knew from Nikki that Angela had signed the papers for cremation after my son-in-law stated Chris had talked to him about it on their way back from Texas.
I said –
Chris hasn’t been cremated yet has he? She can’t change her mind on that can she? She signed papers she can’t go back on that?
came the answer
Angela could very well change her mind up until the very last minute-
I remember the breath leaving my body- I was stunned- my mind and emotions exploding thoughts, running rampant, pictures in my mind of decomposition, his smile , his laugh , his dying all rushing through a brain still reeling from losing him . The faces as the funeral home staff watched me disintergrate
Oh God I thought no – I can’t let them do that to him- not Chris-
So I too had to make a decision -one nearly as hard as taking him off the vent – I had to say and do nothing – I couldn’t go to attorneys about verbal contracts- witnesses – appealing through her church- the only thing I could do was “NOTHING” -nothing until my son’s poor body was cremated.
I couldn’t risk stirring the “keepers of cruelty and wickedness” from their self-righteous slumber in case they changed their minds again. I had to let them think they had signed a contract and hope to hell ( not heaven) that they didn’t realize they could have changed their minds for the sake of my son knowing the consequences would be they would take his poor body and put it through their rituals of death as they are want to do and have done since they interred him.
I came back home across the alleyway that separates the funeral home from our house, knowing that Chris’s body was just a few yards away that December 11th morning to my gentle mother broken even more as she heard what was happening- to a husband who was destroyed by the news they had denied his own goodbye ( now as I learned lately twice) by these people.
Nikki who was full of anger,grief and questions ( more on that in another post)
Chris’s cremation was tentatively scheduled for the 13th of December- so for 72 hours we waited- holding our breath – dreading the phone to ring- waiting – knowing that once again we were being collectively culled from anything to do with our son, brother grandson and nephew- the child , boy and man we so loved.
I watched through my own pain the pain, the desolation caused by Angela and her collective cohorts – what this did to the rest of my family. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Chris would NOT have wanted this emotional torture visited upon us.
On the 14th we were told Chris had been cremated- As I got off the phone that morning my mother was coming down the stairs- she looked at me- her lovely little gentle face afraid , eyes full of tears and said
“Oh no! what has happened now has she changed her mind? They aren’t going to bury him after all are they – Loraine you can’t let that happen- why are they doing this
No! Chris has been cremated
and a 91-year-old sank to her knees on my living room floor in relief , sobs wracking her little body- this same little wonderful Nana Chris had so loved – hurt in such a way – No! this is not what Chris would have wanted and Angela certainly did not honour him by causing his much-loved Nana such torment.
I cannot adequately describe those 72 hours, words fail me.
How Angela could have a few days earlier received a hug from that Nana who thanked her for her decisions for cremation and sharing the ashes, allowing closure in our way too- how Angela could then dismiss that face and that love from her mind as she wrote those words that would just add to the pain and suffering of his Nana is beyond my comprehension?
So on the 11th Day came the beginning of the beginning as I started to take back ownership of my grief and who my son was and the consequences of what happens when a mother and family are denied closure – then closure does not happen and a wound festers and bleeds still…………………“first do no harm”- the harm has been done
to be continued – unfortunately….
Note: all posts are from my perspective and how the documented situations effected this family upon the loss of our son and our closure. It is our story to tell from our perspective- All documents and witnesses available to all the events.
Artwork by Chris Ritchey