Archive for December, 2009
Complexities of a Heart ( artwork) Christopher D. RITCHEY
This New Year’s Eve will mark the 4th Thursday of the death of my son. As with Christmas Eve a week ago, there will be no celebrations in this house, no noise makers, just emptiness and longing for what “should have been”.
We continue to walk the nights , waking from an exhaustive need for sleep , realizing that you aren’t alone in the pre dawn hours, a father and a grandmother silently acknowledging the presence of their fellow “walkers of night” fully knowing that across the town a young mother is also joining them as she cradles her child and weeps silent tears for her brother.
I can’t wish you Happy New Year and new beginnings this year, as like Christmas, it has become just another day to get through – our hearts pierced and held hostage from joy. Loraine
There is so much suffering going on in my world and I AM (partly ) TO BLAME because I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to confront an issue.
I have by MY OWN cowardice enabled those who have harmed my family and taken Chris from us .
As readers are aware Chris was given the terrible news on August 29th 2009 after his tandem stem cell transplant that the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma “survived” and “his only chance of survival” was a clinical trial of SGN 35.
He was accepted on to this trial in Houston ,Texas at the beginning of September. Whilst his wife felt that Chris should be able to manage on his own in Texas, I felt the need for someone to be with him . I didn’t feel comfortable not knowing how this treatment would affect him , what the side effects would be , would he feel up to shopping for groceries, cooking meals ,eating or even driving to and from tests and infusions especially, as quite frankly, he was also dealing with the return of the cancer on top of this.
Chris’ family felt he should have someone with him for the months that he would need to be in Houston, so it was decided that I would travel to Texas and be with him and do the things mums do.
I know it was difficult for Chris, after all he was a grown man and the only reason his “mum” was with him was that he was desperately ill. I know that as much as he loved me I reminded him, by my presence alone, that he was fighting for his life and the cancer.
I won’t go into the pain of his journey in Houston due to the cancer and side-effect of the drugs or even the contracting of H1N1 that eventually took his life.
What I will say to you , all of you , is that I could have stopped the pain inflicted after his death caused by those that supposedly loved and cared for my son.
I could have stopped all that has happened since his death IF I HADN’T BEEN SO GUTLESS!
Chris and I had an honest relationship. Oh! sometimes a heated, and very vocal relationship- he was after all “my” son. Sometimes we needed those “bouts of heat” to get to the real issue, to draw out what was really the problem. However, no matter how heated our points of view became, we always came back to laughter and understanding of each other. He was part of me and his heritage in more ways than one.
Now to my dilemma – In my heart of hearts I knew that Chris should be making some decisions- I had a bad feeling about what the next weeks would bring.
One night I lay awake all night trying to decide what to do , I decided to find a time in the day where I would talk to Chris but I couldn’t.
How do you approach your son who had just turned 29 , who was fighting for survival and living on the thin thread of hope of a clinical trial drug and say
What do you want , what would be your wishes should you die?
How could I? how could I see his face as his “mum” asked such a question? Me, who was trying her damnedest to give him hope after the news he had very little unless the SGN 35 worked and he could tolerate its side effects, and for how long?
Try as I might I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ,for once in his life, be open and forthright with him. I thought there might be time, time after the results that I knew would be good- you see I watched the tumors on his neck shrink. I knew that when that cough stopped after the 21st of September that the SGN 35 was working. I watched my son with the eyes of a mother.
And because I couldn’t bring myself to have the “death discussion” with Chris a person who had the “legal right” ( enabled by her family) has exercised that right which has caused my family such a world of hurt .
I didn’t have Chris wishes in writing, NO ONE DID!!!!
I gave her her due and her way (that is not mine ) of saying “goodbye” only a week later to be denied ours.
I am sure Chris trusted his bride and his family to use the love they had for him in a way that would help healing.
That didn’t happen because I was a “gutless wonder”
If there is a lesson to be learned here, please don’t trust that your final wishes would be what you wanted.
MAKE YOUR DECISIONS, MAKE THEM IN WRITING, AND MAKE THEM KNOWN, SIGN YOUR NAME!
I will in days to come give you some “options” and what they really entail-
The ghosts of Christmas past came to visit – happier times caught forever in the all-seeing eye of the camera:
A Christmas of a promise of love and sharing, that started the road of union.
Years passed , Christmases came and went – friends and laughter- no tragedy’s befell our Christmas time but then another special Christmas – a beautiful baby girl had her first Christmas – I can still remember the overwhelming happiness I felt as she was posed for her first Christmas tree picture . I remember thinking as clearly as if it was today
” I don’t think I have ever felt so happy and fulfilled- or experienced such a feeling”
Nikki’s first Christmas
Then there came another Christmas, just two days before Christmas I found out that Santa would be bringing Nikki a gift of baby brother or sister. It was a lovely Christmas that year. My mum, flying in for the holidays from England , not quite understanding why she was given a pair of baby booties in her Christmas stocking was over joyed finally when she realized she would be a Nana once again.
Christmas Traditions old and new as our little family and our children grew. Oh ! there was the yearly Christmas tree fight and the needing of hot buttered rum to get my husband in the mood to “test” the lights.
But a brother and a sister shared, ran to malls and purchased gifts, giggled at some of the “old people’s sweaters” they received and Christmas money clutched tight would head off on shopping sprees on the 26th .
And now we are in Christmas present.
It is a Christmas never to be forgotten – a baby’s first Christmas
combined with a the wrenching sadness and “missing” of another son and child .
Our traditions will change again. The ones shared by Chris’ family have to change – the familiar and old not giving comfort but underlining the terrible loss in our lives.
to remember his face as the years go by. Absent from the tree photos to come, absent from our table but not from our hearts.
Christmas Yet to Come
A “Chris Miss “ present will become part of Gavin’s traditions and we will smile at a baby’s antics as he discovers Christmas through the years.
However, no matter the laughter, presents and lights that surround us Christmas time will continue to remind us of Chris .
This Christmas Chris is probably part of another tradition, one of an extended family who have taken my son’s remains like thieves in the night and placed them in a graveyard ( not of his faith or inclination) -to be visited in pajamas by those of the extended family bearing goodness knows what on a Christmas morning.
It was not a tradition Chris held with – his anger at being asked to participate at last years ritual was met with annoyance by his bride.
“Things are going to change next year Chris , you will participate”
I guess a more prophetic statement would be hard to find.
His wishes and his voice was silenced by death and by selfishness.
This year as Christmas morning dawned I wondered
“are they dancing the pajama dance of death like some sort of macabre elves over the remains of my son….is he part of their “new tradition”?
My anger and disgust continues unabated by “good will and forgiveness”- as I watch what their “gift of lies and treachery” have done to those that are living through this “Chris Miss – Time “
Christopher David RITCHEY
* NOT LOMBARDI ,VYKA, GONZALES, GOTT, or ZAWORSKI
The name is and was RITCHEY some seem to have forgotten that fact.
This Christmas and Chris-Miss time I have learned lessons not found in any textbook , bible or retelling of the Dickens Classics.
1. I have found there is a parallel universe- and those that walk in my universe see the twinkling holiday lights and decoration- they are peripheral to our sight and touch – they, along with the new fallen snow- bring no joy as we continue on our journey. We walk unseen through throngs of people smiling with packages and laughter- they are seen but not recognized.
2. Forgiveness- What is forgiveness? Is it just another way of enabling those that have wronged us? – Letting them go to their church held unaccountable by an act of forgiveness to pray on their knees , pillars of a congregation- acts of “christian charity ” recompense for a terrible and cruel wrongful wickedness– Forgiveness to start anew and continue in their way?
By forgiving does the wrong and pain lessen and for whom? Is forgiveness supposed to make me feel better?
I have learned that to truly forgive you have to understand the reasoning for cruelty and of the act perpetrated – My understanding , like my forgiveness also must live in a parallel universe- the one of Dickens and Christmas spirits where Good Will Toward Men ( and women) is the cry of the day is not the place I walk. The cry that is heard in my universe is a gutteral scream of despair and loss at cruelty in the name of love and honour.
Banshee ( Source)
3. The darkness I also walk in the alternative universe , the one that comes with the night . For weeks I woke from nightmares, heart pounding, drenched in sweat and tears, shaking with an inner cold and fear only to realize the nightmare was actually a better place to be than the nightmare that became my reality upon waking .
I no longer try and wake from my nightmares they are less frightening and painful than my reality . The space between sleep and waking finds me fighting to stay in a nightmare world of my own rather than the one where I have lost MY SON, my closure and to have to see what the decisions of others have done to those I love. The dreadful toll taken showing on the faces of those I love most is worse than any Banshee of the night
4. Kindness I have learned that the wonderfully kind and caring thoughts and acts of literally thousands of people who have read this blog, sent cards, called , emailed from all over the world cannot erase from hurt or memory the dreadful acts perpetrated and enabled by “The Committee of 19”
5. Truth and Transparency I have learned that most people really want a sugar-coated truth . The truth of raw emotion makes them uncomfortable . There are certain aspects when it comes to death that people want left in the place between myth and reality , not wanting to see the light of day angered when the niceties are replaced by the realities. I am unable, any longer, to sugar -coat.
6. Heritage I have learned that I am more complex than I thought I was and that the ancient culture from which I came is still within me. We truly are products of our heritage and ancestry. Whilst the community of my “home” struggles with my attitude it is fully understood by those of my ilk.
We may all walk the same path , go through the motions of living in a collective universe but it seems all it takes is the losing of ” one of your reasons for being “ compounded by acts of selfishness of culture and perceived faith to remove you to another reality and parallel path .
Someone said that you were interred today – I wasn’t told when – your family wasn’t told– I couldn’t say goodbye to what was left of you on this earth as you went back to the earth-surrounded by whom? Another culture – “apart” – from those that have loved you for so long and since the day were born. A goodbye denied to me ! I could not shed a tear at your side or throw you one last kiss – we have been denied but my thoughts of goodbye are for you my “luvleyful boy” are not to be denied
My grandson has died, he slipped out of his flesh and bones into a new frame.
His spirit has passed from here to where? Leaving us full of despair and loneliness.
I look up to the sky , he is there in the twinkling of the stars, he is in every floating cloud in every ray of sunlight.
He is there in the whispering stir of the leaves, the grass under our feet, in the birds dawn chorus and every flower that buds in the spring.
He is there in Misty’s joyful bark and in every breath of air we breathe.
We mourn and long for you Chris – you left us too soon but we thank you for every memory you gave us – locked safely in our shattered hearts – so that none can take them away –
I love you Chris and I am so glad and proud you were my grandson, if just for just awhile.
It is my belief that the rituals surrounding death are not for those passed from our lives but for the living. We all in our own way and beliefs NEED to have closure
There are many ways, traditions and beliefs that come into play as any of us of the human race say goodbye to those we loved, honour and grieve over.
Your way may not be my way and my way may find us as odds in our beliefs. But I would hope that any of you would respect the right to say goodbye and for closure.
A wicked, wicked cruelty delivered by the face of love on a piece of lined notebook paper, a simple paragraph , laughable in the stated “reasonings” had it not caused such inconsolable sadness . A piece of paper that had to be delivered by a Funeral Director 8 days after the death of my son.
This face of love who hadn’t the guts to face the terrible emotions that wracked the very core of Chris’ family when receiving the news of a promise broken.
I will never ever lose the picture in my mind of Chris’ Nana- the gentlest of people who loved and cared for him – her little body curled into and imploding upon herself with utter grief and confusion .
“I have lived through terrible tragedies, seen and heard things in my 90 years- but this is wickedness and a terrible cruelty that comes with a coldness that I have never ever experienced and it comes in the name of love.”
A promise made to that same Nana , his sister, his family in a “funeral conference” the week before. A promise to respect our way as well and grateful thanks from a grandmother and sister to be allowed to say goodbye in our way was rescinded in a cowardly note.
What couldn’t be taken from Chris’ family in his life – his family – his beliefs -his culture- our last goodbye shared- has been ripped from us in death.
I am angry and perplexed at what has happened. The need for closure of his flesh and blood circumvented by those who were part of his extended family for such a little while. I have to question is this the charity of true Christians?
Their closure complete in having taken him to ground removing all vestige of him from his flesh and blood, our beliefs and our traditions that were his too . I respected their need for closure in their belief and in their way only to be denied our own goodbye and closure.
I will not fight ( for once) over the poor broken body of my wonderful caring son . I find it abhorrent, reprehensible and unforgivable what an extended family has done to his Nana , father,sister, uncle, brother-in-law and friends and YES! to me – who cherished the feel of his first fluttering heart beat with in my own body – who was there as that same heart stopped and the washing over me of a loss that is indescribable -a horror of emotion only known to other mothers who have borne the pain of birth and death of their child
As time goes by the box that contains the earthly remnants of my son, trapped for years to come by the cold grey clay of Ohio and Ohio laws, will be forgotten. A young woman ( wife) will find another love, another life- the extended family (in- laws) will move on – my son no more than a shadowy memory – the intense pain caused not addressed as they continue to pray .
A decision made on the grounds of “not being an organ donor so there would be no division of the ashes _ to remain whole (based on ignorance of the cremation process) as that is what Chris would have wanted-“
WHAT CHRIS WOULD HAVE WANTED????
What I do know beyond all doubt that my son, my flesh and blood , the child I bore, the boy I raised to manhood would never have sanctioned or agreed with the causing any one of us such great pain and sorrow, a dividing of those he loved. No ! That was not the way of my son .
Richard Earl Thompson (1914-1991)
There is a special place in a woodland glade where sits a weeping Norwegian Pine, a peculiar tree that represents his love of real Christmas trees and his quirky sense of humor , hundreds of spring bulbs and wildflowers planted for the colours so loved by the artist he was – a small stone with words of meaning sent by another mother , who shared the bleacher seats with me as our sons played soccer and grew into men.
A ceremony filled with love, the music of wild horses, passion for the things he loved , the child, boy and man that he became celebrating his love of life , humour , fire, freedom. the wild , love of nature and family.
As the years take their toll on the writing on a cold granite headstone, a tree will grow in strength , a field of colour at its roots – an open sky where the currents of air will play in the branches- the same air that Chris so desperately needed to save his life.
The words of my son who after coming out of the weeks of hospitalization after the 2nd stem cell transplant in a text to his cousin in England.
We are waiting for the car – Tony I had no idea how great fresh air tastes and feels – I never want to be locked in again……………
My son , I am sorry that your passing along with great grief has also produced a cold callousness and perhaps spitefulness I hadn’t thought possible in remembrance of you .
We will remember you with every blue sky, with every wag of Misty’s tail , with every splash of the waterfall and in every croak of the 8 frogs and flash of silver of the koi you gave me last Mother’s Day …. We love you beyond words ,beyond life and death………
“Til death us do part” , as Nikki stated in her letter,is not part of any promise or commitment made between a parent and son, a sister and brother, a grandmother and grandchild , and uncle and nephew .
Songwriters: Richards, K;Jagger, M
Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted
I bought them for you
You know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hand
Couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
No sweeping exits
Or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter
Or treat you unkind
Couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
I know I’ve dreamed you
A sin and a lie
I have my freedom
But I dont have much time
Faith has been broken
Tears must be cried
Let’s do some living
After we die
And Wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses
Couldn’t drag me away