Posts filed under ‘death’

August 3rd- NO LIMITS- Chapter 19- Chris Ritchey

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Thirteen : NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fourteen: March 3rd, NO LIMITS, Chapter 14- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fifteen: April 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 15- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Sixteen: May 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 16- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Seventeen: June 3rd-No Limits-Chris Ritchey-Chapter 17 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eighteen: July 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapter 18-Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Back to  Houston:

The family  all gathered back  at Nikki’s on October 3rd. Jim and Chris were leaving early in the morning on the 4th. Misty, Chris’s dog who  now lived with  us, due to  the situation we all found ourselves dealing with , came along to  Nikki’s to  see her master. She was a loopy  dog  and reminded me of Dino  of the Flintstones . However,  with  Chris she was all business, a totally  different animal , obeyed him and loved him. To  see her reaction when she saw Chris that day brought tears- I dare not shed -to  my  eyes . Chris and his dad and Misty  , who wouldn’t leave his side,  walked into  the woods behind Nikki’s. I didn’t follow,  my  husband hadn’t had many  alone times with  Chris in the preceding months , I  instinctively  felt  I should not follow.

We were loathe to  leave that day. Somehow my  gut told me this was the last time we would all be together . Photos were taken, laughter  was tried. Gavin, his nephew, was now  nearly  8 months old , Chris had missed those early   months and I so hoped he would be there as Gavin grew. He wanted to  be a great uncle to  Gavin  take him four wheeling and after  riding the horses in Texas decided he would buy  some land and get Gavin a horse, or at least a pony. I  wanted that to  happen with  everything that was in me.  Chris , bought Gavin a Texas  belt buckle, it was almost as big as him.

Jim and Chris  were on the road from Cleveland to  Houston  stopping every  so  often to  take in those sights that Chris wanted to  see. They  also  arranged to  go  wild boar hunting on the way  and stop off at a couple of shooting ranges.

 

Although  they  tried to  have a normal “man-cation” Jim told me when they  arrived back in Houston how worried he was.  Chris, was in a lot of pain and was popping pills the whole journey. Jim wasn’t sure what they  were but that I  should try  and see if I could take a look at the medication bottles.

I had arrived back in  Houston on the Saturday  morning. I had just arrived when the phone rang and it was JD’s secretary. JD had once again  been there for this family. His secretary  made arrangements with  me to  pick me up, go  to lunch  and pick up  staples I  would need until Jim and Chris arrived back on the Monday.  Bless her heart , we went to  an English  pub-like restaurant. The Black Labrador Pub.

The food was delicious and I was at my  ease . We then went to  a British  shop also  in Houston where I  carted off “English sausages, tea bags, favorite  biscuits, ( cookies) and snacks  a quick stop  to  a convenient store for bread and milk etc. I  was set for the next couple of days until Jim and Chris arrived. Thinking about it I am not sure what I  would have done for temporary  supplies over that weekend…. called for Pizza  I suppose.

I had just put the groceries away  when Jim called they  would be arriving at the apartment in a couple of hours. They  decided to  cut the “man-cation”  short.  After they  arrived and Chris was showering , Jim told me Chris was not doing well the drive had really  taken it out of him, the pills, and he could see Chris , although  he didn’t say  anything, was in pain.   They  had a supper of omelets and English sausages that evening , I know Jim “suffered” the sausages, as they  are somewhat bland  compared to  American sausages.  Chris, I  don’t think cared what he was eating. He just wanted to  sleep  so Jim and I went to  do  a grocery  shop. Chris looked awful , dark circles under his eyes, the trip  and driving certainly  had taken its toll on his  health and any  energy he had.

Later that night I  was able to  look in Chris’s shaving bag for his medication . There it was a number of bottles of Oxycodone 30 mg. I know he didn’t get it in Houston as the Doctors treating him wouldn’t prescribe it , especially  when he was filling out the forms weekly  stating his pain was at level 3.

I couldn’t ask him why  he had them without letting him know I had spied on him.  I looked at the label and recognized the name of the Dr. at South Pointe  Hospital where Angela was doing her residency.  I  was in a bad position  and didn’t know what to  do. I would just keep  a closer eye on him and hope to  hell these “medical marvels knew what they  were doing”

This medication is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics. It works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain.

Since they  were two  days adrift Jim changed his flight back to  be with  Nikki  and the baby. It was agreed I  would keep a close eye on Chris , as much  as I  could.

Once again, we were on the treadmill of  tests, infusions  check ups . His heart rate had been high a steady  114   and he had had a procedure done but they  thought his heart was alright considering what it had been through in the previous months.  I was scared they  would show the drug  ( oxycodone) was in his system when they  did the tests. No  one said anything but he was  taking quite a few in a 24 hour period. He would keep tablets in his pocket and surreptitiously take a couple. As the days went on I notice the hand going into  that pocket more and more. I knew categorically  by  taking those drugs it was tantamount to  being taken off the trial. The trial that was his last chance of a “cure” . I had to  keep quiet and watch……

To  be continued …

 

August 3, 2021 at 12:40 am 3 comments

June 3rd-No Limits-Chris Ritchey-Chapter 17

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Twelve: NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Thirteen : NO LIMITS- FEB 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 13 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fourteen: March 3rd, NO LIMITS, Chapter 14- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Fifteen: April 3rd- No Limits- Chapter 15- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Sixteen: May 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 16- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Houston Days and Nights- continued

I can’t begin to  put into  words how stressful it was for both of us , those days and nights. Chris and myself  “pretending everything was normal “ skirting around issues we both  knew were uppermost on our minds.  Wanting to  talk but not wanting to say  out loud our fears, maybe that way  we could hope a little longer.

Not everything was rosy , mother and son facing a terrible unknown locked together in a small apartment.  .Chris tired and in pain. I  knew it wasn’t me he wanted with  him. I  found a note that Angela had left behind in a desk drawer, Chris  was hurt and disappointed she was leaving Texas and it was me that would be with  him.

I knew my presence in Texas only confirmed that he was dying of Cancer, I was a constant reminder that he needed a care giver ( although you felt he could manage on his own to deal with side effects of a trial drug and Cancer) he would’ve preferred that it would have been his wife, not his mother to be with him.

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

As a wife, I couldn’t have left my husband knowing that he was living under a death sentence and had been since August 29th -but that was Angela’s choice.

I could never understand Angela’s way  of thinking, but tried to  make allowances  , she too  was dealing with  a terrible situation in her young married life. I couldn’t believe that even during this awful, hopeful , chaotic time  she would still try  to  manipulate a situation and lie as she had done  with Nikki  and Chris  and the engagement ring episode.

Chapter  Three :

March 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapt 2 – Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

October 8th:  One month  in and the façade came crashing down, we were due to  come back  to  Cleveland for a few days . I made arrangements to  still keep  the apartment  as they  were so  difficult to  find. To  me, it was worth  paying for it to  be empty  rather than going through  the hassle of  moving and or finding something else.

This one particular day  we did have that heart to  heart that horrible “truth  revealing ” argument  that shouldn’t have happened!

In  the hours before that argument came to a head Chris and I had gone to get his prescriptions- he was tired and in a lot of pain- I said maybe I could pop into Borders ( which was across the way)

I would like to buy the new Dan Brown novel-

I could see he was impatient to get back so I didn’t push it. His mood was dour and his eyes narrowed and lips ( always a sign of anger) were tight. He had been on his cell phone to his wife, Angela, as we waited for his prescriptions. He drove back to the apartment in utter silence . He immediately went out by the pool in the apartment – I could see him sitting not moving. I decided he needed space  -then Nikki called and said that Chris had hung up on her and was very angry.

“but leave him alone mum” he doesn’t want to talk.

I knew my son. I knew whatever it was would fester until he exploded – he was so much like me.

I went to the pool- he said

“I don’t want to talk”

“You don’t have to -you can listen- I need to talk to you”

I was never a crier before Hodgkin’s I was a fighter, a do-er – this blubbering fool that I have become is down to the helplessness and hopelessness that took away happiness. Chris never knew me as a “crier” before his illness – so as the tears fell he sat silently as I told him

Chris, being a mother of a son is so much harder than you can imagine – I have tried so hard to give you and Angela the space you both need in this terrible time. I KNOW Chris, that you are feeling that you have no control over what is happening to your body and your life- I know you need some control , another reason why I have tried so hard to stand aside- you didn’t need me in the mix as well -But I am going to honestly tell you now -if this had been Nikki and not you I would have handled things so much differently – just as Nikki is my child I would not have sat back and taken a back seat to decisions as I have with you and Angela.

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 .

I have tried to give you both your space – to be there when needed and to shut up for your sake when I was totally against some decisions. I have tried for your sake because I love you so much I would do anything and sacrifice anything for your health and happiness.

I don’t know the reason why you are so angry with Nikki and I but you have to know neither of us would intentionally do anything to hurt you . We have tried to put you first in all our thinking – We love you always have and always will. “


With that I left the poolside and went back into the apartment. Chris followed a few minutes later and then it all came out ( as I knew it would) an argument and accusations the finding out of lies that were told

“we had excluded Angela in decision-making as to driving the truck back to Texas.”

He wanted to drive his truck back . I told Angela  in an email ( which I have ) that it wasn’t a good idea him driving, he was having difficulty due to the side effects of SGN35 and I thought she should know since obviously you had been in Ohio since Sept 10th and hadn’t see the problems he was having even driving to Target let alone 1,700 miles.

I never received any  response from Angela to  my  emails ( which  I  still have)

Chris was furious with  me and  Nikki

“You didn’t include Angela”

Me:

“What are you talking about – I included Angela”

CHRIS No you didn’t !

Me.

Would you like to see the emails?

CHRIS: “

Yes! I would”

Me.

So you are calling me a liar ?

CHRIS:

” Don’t give me that F…. shit if I want to see the email then I must be calling you a liar. There aren’t any emails Angela doesn’t lie!

I then pulled up the emails…. all of them sent to Angela

ME:

Look at the dates and times Chris … now tell me I’M the one that lied…… she says here she wants to talk to you about it did she?

CHRIS:

Well she has been busy

ME:

she talks to you 4 or 5 times a day she couldn’t mention it but she could let you believe that Nikki and I didn’t include her?

He broke down  cried….. my  wonderful strong brave son reduced to  tears not by  cancer that night but by  lies and manipulation

She, the loving wife and bride  did that to him by trying to lie by omission … not me ….I held him and he said:

“did you ever think that I want to see something of the country if I am going to be dead in two years.”

My heart broke for him – I cried and we held on tight to each other and I said

Chris none of us know when we will die, the way you are driving lately we could end up dead on the way to hospital tomorrow ….

he laughed a little and I said:

Chris, I know the SGN35 is working, the lump on your neck isn’t visible and you haven’t coughed since Sept 21st.

That  night he went and checked the lumps on his neck for the first time in weeks.  Chris called Nikki back, she and Jim had talked and Jim would take time off work and drive back to  Houston with  Chris in his truck . He told Nikki  he wasn’t really  angry  with  her, just at the hopelessness and helplessness he was feeling. Once again Chris and sister reached out beyond the miles to  each other.

After talking to Nikki he said he wanted to take a drive, we still had the hire car. He left-  I wasn’t sure where and I was worried- he was in so much pain and on so many pills –

A little while later he came back ….. he walked in patted me on the head as a I sat in the chair and handed me a book as he walked to the bedroom – The Lost Symbol by  Dan Brown…………

June 3, 2021 at 1:06 pm 6 comments

NO LIMITS-Jan 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 12

ED NOTE: It has been one year since I  started this journey  of serialization of my   book/posts on my  son’s, Christopher Ritchey, journey.  I had thought, initially,  to  intersperse  the posts as usual with  other posts, pertaining to  life, Lorain, crime and politics. I  have found I  just do not have the energy  and the apathy is all consuming . I have come to  the sad realization what I  think  and my  passions on those subjects just don’t matter and don’t make a bit of difference in the real world.  However, my  journey  with  NO LIMITS continues, as hard as these chapters are to  write  and reliving the journey  of hope and no  hope there is a light at the end of this journey . I  will continue to  tell of our journey with  transparency  and truths.

 

No  Limits – The Book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

Chapter Eleven: NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11 | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

 Chapter 12 : The Trial and Tribulations

The days following  the biopsy  found me sitting by  the phone. I  knew in my  heart of hearts the news was awful but I  clung to  the hope they  could be wrong, it had been known. I  knew it was a foolish  hope but you  grab anything you  can to  hold onto.

Chris came to  stay  with  Nikki that last weekend in August . He was so  pale and quiet. I went over bearing his favourite food . Nikki  told me he had been out in the woods for hours on his four wheeler , alone and not wanting to   talk to  anyone.

We waited, and when he came in I saw my  son trying to  put on a brave face. We all tried to  act normally  I  sat with  him at the kitchen counter , trying to   eat . He was , for my  sake, trying to  force the food down. A friend of my  son-in-law, oblivious to  the situation, came in  talking about the hunting season to  come  and new equipment he was planning to  purchase. It was so  normal and so  damned surreal. Chris left the kitchen , I  knew he was thinking

I  probably  won’t be here for that  season.

I  waited, trying to  swallow my  scream. Nikki  came into  the kitchen  and said ”

Mum, Chris is not good, you  had better come upstairs   

I followed her up  to  the guest room, also  now known as Chris’ room. He was laying on top  of the bed and had broken down, the fear, the hope, the fact he would die crashing down on him and he could no  longer  put on a brave face that day .

I didn’t know what to  say  or do . I felt totally  helpless.  I sat on the bed next to  him and Nikki  was on the other side and we  huddled and cried together. After a while I said , not knowing really  what I  was saying

“The three of us like this, Chris , is probably  Angela’s worst nightmare”

Finally  a weak smile and I said  to  my  son , almost believing it myself

Chris , I  will move heaven and earth  to  find another way  another treatment, even if it means going  to  Germany  or Europe

( I  had heard they  were making strides in Germany with  Refractory Hodgkin’s)

Chris went back out into  the woods riding and I  went home to   get on the computer and research.

I went home worried beyond reason for my  beautiful son. The phone rang it was Angela’s mother Sue Lombardi  wanting to know something inconsequential.

I said Sue:

I can’t even think about that know ( I  can’t even remember what it was ) I have just left Chris and he is in a terrible state.

WELL! she said NOW YOU  KNOW WHAT ANGELA HAS BEEN PUTTING UP WITH . 

I couldn’t believe the sanctimonious,  cold hearted cow!

PUTTING UP WITH , he is dying and scared and turning to  his wife.. don’t talk to  me .. putting up  with ????

she said :

maybe putting up  with  wasn’t the right choice of words .

No!  it wasn’t  I am going now. I  have things to  of more importance to  deal with  

Finally Tuesday   came  when we once again sat in the offices of Dr. Pohlman. Chris sat alone on the side of the room, he had on his aviator glasses and cap was pulled down, as I  looked at my  son , knowing these glasses were his defense  against the emotions he was feeling  being  shown  to us. Nikki  and I  sat together and Angela  drew up  a chair on the opposite wall.

No-one said a word, and Dr. Pohlman of the diamond earing , white framed glasses , starched white coat and Italian leather  shoes entered the room.

I was never keen on him , his bed side manner was decidedly  lacking  , but Chris liked him, why? I  don’t know .  As he sat down he looked at us , looked at the report and said coldly:

“This is bad, very  bad. Your immune system, ( looking at Chris who had not moved but sat like stone) does not recognize the cancer. As your body deals with the good cells it is also  helping the cancer cells .  Another stem cell transplant  , this would be a donor  transplant in the hopes that their immune system  would take over (allogeneic) is a remote possibility , but the insurance probably  would not   OK  it.

Nikki , spoke  ” well  why  can’t we try? “

Pohlman  looked as if he had noticed her for the first time,

“and  you  are  his sister? Well we could test you  as a donor, are you  willing “

“Of course I  am willing I  will do  anything “

Polhman  then continued.

Chris your only  hope for a “cure” ( and yes he said the word “cure” )is to  get on a trial for the drug SGN35 .

I finally  found my  voice,

how  do  we do  that?

Unfortunately, 

he said ( and this was the Tuesday  morning after waiting for days for the results of the biopsy)

We.at the Clinic closed down the admittance to  the trial of SGN 35  we have here on Friday  and there are no  more spaces available. I am not sure there are any  openings  around the country.

I was incredulous , this young man had been treated by  them from the very  beginning they  KNEW the cancer had returned , they  knew he would need options , they  held out the hope again to  only  withdraw it coldly  and clinically. I was so  angry  I  couldn’t  speak. Angela sat there ,

 

For god’s sake I  thought Angela say  something, you  are a resident going to  be a Dr.  a member of the Cleveland Clinic yourself  say  something!!!!!This is your husband  fight for him.

Angela said nothing,  it was Nikki  who  spoke :

You  are the Cleveland Clinic  , the best in the nation, and you  are telling me that Chris has been your patient all this time and you  come in here offering nothing,  just that a trial has closed, why  didn’t you  reserve him a space. You  KNEW what those results were . and all you  can say  is “this is bad , very  bad ” and there is a hope for a cure but not here . Then Where????? Don’t kick him to  the curb, he is not a lab rat……

Chris’ face book page

I am not sure Polhman  was expecting that , I know Angela  looked shocked.  Polhman was the big shot specialist, I  am sure she wasn’t happy  with  Nikki  questioning him.  Polhman turned his hands  outward in a gesture  of  “oh well” said that he would send his assistant to  set up a test for Nikki  and he would have them see if there were any  openings for SGN 35 in other states , but the trials had all closed on the Friday . He had other patients he had to  see.

As they  all walked out I asked what about Europe, Germany , he looked perplexed. He didn’t know  and was that an option. I  said:

anything is an option to  save my  son’s life and walked out.

The rest of the day  found Angela looking into  options, contacting people she had been  in medical school with. Nikki  on the computer  and I called family  in the medical community , who  dealt with  Cancer research . They  put me in touch  with  Chicago  and Columbus trials, talking to  Doctors,   setting up  appointments.

Angela had the best options with  MD  Anderson   Houston Texas . She sent Chris records through   to  a friend who  said they  would get them to  Dr. Younes who  was doing the trial.

Wednesday  morning , Nikki  and I  picked up  Chris from his apartment and we went to  the Clinic for them to  be matched for a allogeneic  transplant. This done we went back to  his apartment, not really  speaking . We stayed for a little while, I  was so  worried about Chris , he had lost hope. I left Nikki  and Chris in the living room and went to  busy  myself making the bed incase he needed to  rest. Nikki  came flying into  the room. Dr. Younes’ PA from MD Anderson  was on the phone and they  had an opening for an appointment  the next day  in Houston.

The next afternoon at two o’clock . OMG!!! the thoughts tumbled and whirled through  my  mind. Take the appointment , call the airlines, Chris call Angela , where is my  credit card , get them on a flight, book a hotel near the hospital , get some money . By  eight o’clock they  were boarding a flight to  Houston….

 

the roller coaster  ride was starting up  again

 

to  be continued……..

 

January 3, 2021 at 2:27 pm 5 comments

NO LIMITS-Dec. 3rd- Chris Ritchey- Chapter 11

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Eight: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/sept-3rd-no-limits-chapter-8-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Nine: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/oct-3rd-no-limits-chapter-9-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Ten: NO LIMITS- Nov 3rd- Chapter 10- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

 THE HOPING TIME- CHAPTER 11

I was never one for organized religion. My brain always questioning as to the logic of faith. The stories written by men with agendas put in the form of a bible, or a book, tablets, writings, of whatever faith was in vogue, translations based on the politics of the day.  But I prayed to an all-powerful, all knowing being commonly known in my society as God!  I prayed every waking minute silently, and every night alone I prayed out loud. Please God take me not him, let him have his life and happiness. I did the deals parents do when they believe someone magical being   can overturn a fate. I would have sacrificed myself on any alter “He” deemed needed to save my son.

 Almost every church in Lorain had him on their prayer chain. Churches both Catholic and Protestant in England, Scotland, New Zealand Australia and Canada reached out to the heavens in my son’s name. Synagogues, Buddhists and Native Americans joined in with their prayers . I was sent so  many  little bottles of Holy  Water  from Lourdes,   from pilgrimages made on behalf of Chris that I could have opened a market stall.

The thoughts kept going through my  head.

“If there is a God as most seem to  believe and he has no  use for me  and no  reason to  answer my  prayers surely  He can’t ignore the hundreds of people who  are praying for Chris, and especially  his wife  and family  a pillar of the Catholic Church. What about their prayers does my  lack of faith tip  the scale against hundreds of believers?

What about Chris what did he ever do in his young life to  deserve this ? His sister what had she ever done, his father his Nana?  The believers told me God has a plan? Well I don’t like his plan  when the drug dealer who  has raped and caused hell to  his parents  is walking around  procreating  and causing such turmoil why  not him I asked  why  Chris? I did not get an answer and ten years on nothing has changed for the drug dealer except his vehicles.

June turned into  July , I watched as my  son started to  look better from his chemical death. He grew stronger  and I started to  breathe a little  better.  Late July  found him going on a 4 wheeler trip  with the guys.

 

Normalcy  and fun , so  I  thought. Dr. Pohlman  had told him in June he wasn’t  going to  have to  see him until November and he had no  restrictions  as such,  just to  stay  away from people who may be ill  etc.  When Chris came back from that trip  he was obviously  tired  but there was something else going on . I prayed it wasn’t the cancer coming back again.

Chris opened up  to  Nikki  that he thought the lump was coming  back on his neck a compromised lymph node . My  understanding is the cancer cells in the blood are larger than normal cells and so can’t get through and block the system causing the lumps ( tumors) . That of course is the very simplest of explanations , there is so  much  more .

Chris finally having   shared his fears with  Nikki and they  called the staff member in Pohlman’s office  he had been given as a contact. They  basically  said to  keep an eye on it  and he had an appointment moved up until August.

The Doctors decided to  do  a biopsy on August 21st , Chris’ birthday.  I will never be able to  think of his birthday  in the same way  again.

I drove to  the downtown Cleveland Clinic  wanting to  throw up  all the way. I was so  scared I  couldn’t even  think straight.  Chris and Angela were already  there. Nikki  having fed the baby,( she was breast feeding)  was on her way. We sat in silence in the waiting room , Chris, Angela and I  , I  had no  words. Nikki  arrived  looked at her brother and said “Birthday” he smiled . He was taken back to  pre-op  Nikki  and Angela went with  him . I  sat along in a corridor trying not to  fall apart, everything within me  was screaming.

Chris was taken down and we went to  the waiting room only  to  find Angela’s support team. One of them her  grandmother , they  wanted to  get something to  eat so I duly  followed on.  The grandmother who  was nice enough  in her way but in my  opinion  sadly  lacking in forethought  said:

“What a shame, on his birthday  too. Oh isn’t it your birthday  in a couple of days, are you  having a party to  celebrate”

and on she “clacked”. I thought has this woman any idea of what Nikki  and I  are going through. I  sat quietly  through the “meal”, whilst they  ate and  rattled on about this and that, we then went back to  the waiting room.

The big board with  all the operations and who was in surgery and who  was in recovery kept changing. The grandmother true to  form had not finished. Nikki had left me to  go  and express  her milk. As I  sat there visualizing what was happening to  my  son  Grandmother pipes up:

Let’s have a contest , everyone pick a time as to  when Chris goes to  recovery, how much  longer do  you  think  it will be. Angela you  are the Dr. so   you  start.

and they  did . I was by  this time  bringing up  bile in my  mouth, I  could no  longer sit there , was not one of Angela’s support team going to  shut this stupid woman up. Did they  not see how inappropriate this was and how painful?

I got up  and left and went outside crying. Nikki found me  as they  had no  idea where I  had gone. Chris had come through  the surgery  and was in recovery. The  surgeon came out and said it went well and they  were sending the sample for tests. Angela left to  share the news. Nikki  looked at the surgeon and said:

is the cancer back?

He was very  nice and said

 we have to  wait for the results.

Nikki looked at him and said :

You  have done hundreds of these and you  can tell, I know , is the cancer back

He looked at her and just nodded.

Mum, you  can’t go back into  the recovery  room . Chris will take one look at you  and know . You  have to  leave.

and so  I  did . I don’t remember driving home . I was numb , perplexed desperate.

Chris missed my  birthday  but came two  days after with  my  “candles” he always bought me candles since he was a little boy.

April 3rd- The Candle Connection- Chris Ritchey | That Woman’s Weblog (wordpress.com)

 

As soon as Chris was  old enough and earning money, he would  buy me special candles – the trouble was they were always artistic and expensive and I couldn’t bring myself to light them. After one more such gift of candles I couldn’t bear to burn , I told you:

“Chris, these are far too nice to burn – just buy me ones I can feel OK with lighting” .

The next birthday came the “Daisy Candles” and once again I didn’t have the heart to burn them I supposed you had forgotten the request .

I noticed the cellophane around the “Daisy Candles” was definitely yellowing and becoming brittle. My thought was to bring them into the living room where my mum, who loves daisies might get some cheer from them as a symbol of “spring will eventually arrive and with it daisies”

I brought the candles downstairs , took off the wrapper and then saw the instructions-

I realized as I read those words you had listened to me– because the candles were special- the wick would burn for 29-30 hours and when it was done the outside of the candle would still be intact and I could insert tea light candle that would illuminate the outer shell.

 

the thought struck me the candle was yet another symbol- how your life burned with beauty and strength for as many years as those candles had hours (29) and what was left was a mere glimmer of memories that would only burn as long as I lighted the “memory of you” . The “tea light” of the 3rd of every month where once again your life is lived!

The candles , the last he bought me, are still waiting  to  give a light that has been lost to  us.

To be continued………

December 3, 2020 at 3:48 pm 2 comments

Sept. 3rd – No Limits- Chapter 8- Chris Ritchey

 

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Seven: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/08/03/august-3rd-no-limits-chapter7-chris-ritchey/

After the Wedding- Chapter 8

All during the trip  to  Europe  I  was in a state of panic . I  tried not to  show my  fear, after all Nikki  was pregnant it was a time of celebration, of being with   family  and supposedly   moving forward with   hope  and happiness.  No  matter how I  tried I could not quell the terror that would  shake me awake at night or in unguarded moments transport me to  a dark place.

I wasn’t alone in this thing called premonition, Chris as a little boy had dreams and premonitions too. They faded as he grew or maybe he just didn’t pay attention to them. The day  I brought my  son home from the hospital, I sat gazing at his little flushed faced and those  eyes , new to  the wonder of a world  experienced for the first time and my  mother admiring her new grandson , I  heard myself saying as I  looked at my  miracle and said out-loud as my  mum sat with  me – he will have a sad life! I don’t know what made me say it, I put it down to post-partum nonsense but I was always, in hindsight,  since that utterance tried  to make sure Chris’ life would not be sad. I spoiled him and loved him, laughed with him, enabled him and tried everything I could to protect him.

After Chris had completed his radiation treatments and  we were finally  over our “European Flu” , my  husband and I  were invited to  the newlyweds  apartment  for dinner.  I  hadn’t seen Chris in a couple of weeks he had been travelling out of state for Wyse  Advertising in his position as an Art Director. He had the Meineke Account and they  were shooting a new ad based on Chris’ ideas  which  would be aired on CNN and on the Meineke Bowl December 27th 2008.

 

As I walked into their apartment that evening in November 2008 my  arms full of wine and flowers , my son was sitting in “his” chair – one he had purchased after the wedding- men always have to have “their chair”. I  stopped short  as I  looked at my  son – something was wrong, his eyes, dark circles , pallor I  knew it was not good, but he had been through a lot and was back at work; logical reasoning’s  flooded into my  thought process but I knew   all the while knowing  this wasn’t good. I smiled and said:

I will just give these things to Angela, talk to your dad, I will be back in a second.

I joined Angela in the small kitchen , I  had hoped that my  wariness of her , which I  had felt from the first day  I  was introduced to  her, would have dissipated now they  were married. But no! it hadn’t, there was something that made me uncomfortable around her, something that made me try too hard with her, not be me. I remember thinking:

she is like her mother in so many ways but there has to be something I am not seeing in her that Chris does.

I knew from Chris’s  own lips, Sue Lombardi, the mother in law, was an irritant to him and didn’t gladly suffer her.  There were times my son used the cancer and fatigue as an excuse NOT to go to the Lombardi gatherings, and yet was well enough to join Jim and others at the Irish pub.

Angela, Chris does not look well to me is he OK…. is this the after effects of the treatment?

 

Oh No! she said

he caught cold on the trip  for Wyse – flying you tend to pick up stuff and his immune system is down because of the chemo and radiation. He is on antibiotics from the Dr. at South Pointe. 

I felt somewhat relieved, after all she was now a resident, the hospital staff knew Chris and his situation and so we sat down to dinner. I couldn’t take my eyes off my son, even though I was careful not to let him see I was looking and the quiet fear became a deafening roar.

Thanksgiving 2008 came, Angela was working (supposedly), I  am not sure to  this day  that I  believed that .. I  felt that she wanted to  spend  Thanksgiving with  her family  and Chris with  his, so  they  decided  to  each  go  their  own way and Chris would go  to  Lombardi’s for dessert.

Chris sat as his usual place at the dining room table. I realized I hadn’t really seen Angela but a couple of times, and then only briefly, since they had been married. Chris would come to Nikki’s every weekend but never did Angela stay, she was usually with her family.

 

I had cooked Chris all his favorite dishes that Thanksgiving Day but they largely went untouched. After he left to join Angela at her mother’s, Nikki was worried:

We have to do something, Mum, something is not right with Chris, I don’t care what Angela says he is ill.  .

 

Chris had been scheduled for a PET Scan  but he didn’t want Christmas to  be a blow out  so  he scheduled the scan after Christmas. We had a Christmas , Nikki  and I  treading on  eggshells and swallowing our fears like they  were broken glass.

Angela stayed at her parents and Chris as usual stayed with  Nikki, he had his own room. I went over Christmas morning and Nikki  was very  worried Chris looked dreadful .

Angela  duly  arrived that morning in her pajamas and coat , she called up  to  Chris to

get up  and come on she was waiting  ,

they, the Lombardi  Clan   were all going to  the cemetery  where the little cousin who  had been killed by  the falling tree branch  that September was buried in their  pajamas with  gifts for the grave , opening Christmas stockings  and decorate  a tree.

I heard my  son say

“No  that is  sick I  am not going to  be part of that ,you  go  but I am NOT! 

Angela Ritchey- In red – by Chris Ritchey

Angela’s  face darkened , you  could tell she was angry  and that Chris  had disagreed with  her in front of me and his Nana . I heard her say  as she left the  room

” things will be different next year”

I remember my  mum looking at me and saying:

you  know that girl has a coldness in her I hadn’t realized….

prophetic words indeed.

 

 

 

Dec 27th,  Chris was still at Nikki’s  where  we all tried to  help  him, Angela pretty  much  stayed away sulking   somewhat after the Christmas morning incident, Chris explained . We duly  sat around the  flat screen to  watch the Meineke Bowl  for his ad.

I was sitting on the couch and Chris slowly  started to  slump over his head  on my  lap , like he did when he was a little boy and I  knew…… time was not going to  be kind…..

 

Chris, had the PET Scan January  3rd  went back to Dr. Abraksia , the oncologist, who  originally  over saw the chemo   treatments and eventually the worst fears materialized. Less than 3 months after being pronounced cured of the curable cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma morphed into Refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Nikki was around 6 months pregnant when Chris called me that January evening with the news the cancer was back. I knew  I had to  tell Nikki  in person – her being pregnant was something unexpected and we were treating her like crystal, as just 4 months before her pregnancy Drs. and specialists told her she would not be able to  have children. But I knew she was pregnant before she did , I  told Chris , he got angry  with  me

Mum, stop  it you  know how much  Nikki wants a baby  that is wrong of you.  

I said ,

well I  just know she is....

and when she came over with  the scan I said

Oh Nikki  I  have to  tell Chris……

there was such  excitement

I knew that Nikki  had to  be told carefully   so  got into  my  car and drove to  her home. It was snowing and icy  and I  nearly  took out a mail box .  Jim answered the door, one look at me and he knew things were bad- I told Nikki what I  knew and she crumpled  in two, just sort of folded up.

her baby  brother

she wanted to  go  to  him right away  but we convinced her otherwise- tomorrow we said .

Nikki and I  went to  Best Buy  on the way   and purchased a small flat screen for Chris’s  bedroom- knowing  he would be shut in that room whilst new treatments were tried. Chris was waiting for us, I started to  unpack the TV  whilst Nikki  and Chris went to  the bedroom- I  heard him say-

Nik- I  did everything they  told me to  do, why is it back it is supposed to  be curable?

Other self by Chris Ritchey

 

My heart was in my mouth- I stayed out in the living room giving Nikki and Chris space” to be”.  It was always the two of them against the world.

And so another medical chapter in the journey of the obscenity of Cancer began. I will write of that journey of stem cell transplants, trials the hope and the horror , the circus that is cancer . However,  this book is not about the journey of medical treatment but that of life and connection.

The Touch- Chris Ritchey

 

September 3, 2020 at 12:31 pm 1 comment

August 3rd- No Limits- Chapter7- Chris Ritchey

 

No Limits- The book

Forward: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

Chapter One :https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Two:https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-

Chapter Three: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/04/03/april-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Four: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/no-limits-chapter-4-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Five: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/june-3rd-no-limits-chapter-5-chris-ritchey/

Chapter Six: https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/07/03/july-3rd-no-limits-chapter-6-chris-ritchey/

 

After the Wedding:

I got through the wedding with a pretense of happiness, and the chemo and radiation treatments continued. We actually  didn’t see Angela for weeks , she and Chris would  come back  to  Lorain from Cleveland on weekends, Angela would stay  with  her parents but Chris  would spend the weekend at his sisters, where I  would see him. It was a bit strange but since I  got to  see him I  wasn’t bothered.

Before Chris’s diagnosis his father and I, my  mum and Nikki booked a trip  to  Europe. Mainly  to  attend a family  event in September and for Nikki  and her dad to  go  to  Scotland and Germany, a cruise up  the Rhine. It was supposed to  be celebration of retirement  and a break for us.

Unfortunately , it turned out to  be the trip  from hell. Apart from the fact none of us , after Chris diagnosis wanted to  go   and surprise, surprise   Nikki  found out she was 8 weeks pregnant, Nana was going to  be a great grandmother  at least this news was wonderful!

 

 

We still  dithered about going   but Chris insisted he was on his last treatment and only  had some radiation to  get through  and we should go  an enjoy.  Enjoy  was not the word we would ever use with  that trip.

There were some good times whilst in England and Chris was only  a phone call away  from his worrying family . We checked on him daily, he probably  got  fed up  but was patient with  us.

It was when we left England the trouble started, we were the last train out of the Euro Tunnel to  France when  the tunnel caught fire  caught fire. We weren’t aware of that until we reached Strasbourg and our hotel. We had only  planned to  stay  in Strasbourg the one night  Sept 11th  . We had  called home to  tell them we would be out of phone contact  for a week on the boat up  the Rhine,  only  to  be greeted with  the news that the rail crossing  and tunnel would be closed  due to  the fire and no-one was sure when it would open.

The boat on the Rhine was not good, Nikki  was feeling queasy , no  one spoke English   and my  French was poor , although  I  managed, we still  couldn’t get any  news and I  hated every  minute.  Even the weather matched my  mood

After 4 days I  could stand it no  longer  and we left the boat early  and  travelled back to  Strasbourg  to  the little hotel by  the cathedral. Nikki  put in a call to  England whilst her dad  and I  went to  look for food. Upon our return to  the room we were greeted with  the news Angela’s  young cousin  had been riding his bike home when a storm  hit  and he was killed by  a falling tree limb.

Nikki was sitting cross legged on the bed  the open Pizza box in front of her  and no -one ate. The time difference meant we had to  wait to  try  and get hold of Chris and Angela, and we had no  idea what to  do or say.

There is nothing worse than being away from your loved ones when something like this happens, you feel totally inadequate and helpless. The next morning , although I am not a Catholic, I walked across the square to Strasbourg Cathedral to light a candle of remembrance for this child who  was of that faith.

 

My mind was not on the beautiful windows, architecture, statues and carvings

 

I watched the tourists as they quietly took in all the beauty that surrounded them, the sound of the Cathedral’s bells reverberating through the stillness.

My heart heavy, I leaned against a pillar whilst my husband took photos and noticed the stone pillar was scarred and what looked ( to me) like bullet holes, it hadn’t been fixed. Had there been a battle of some sort that had scarred the stone? Then I noticed

 

Life has a way of making you realize what is truly important “life itself”, I lit a candle for a little boy  lost in Lorain, another for those  brave men, boys really, whose mothers also wept whose young lives  were lost all the time wondering what the future would bring , would prayers be answered…. and fighting down the tears  I hoped I would not have to  shed for my  own son.

I knew Angela and her aunts were religious and fervent Catholics, but not sharing those same beliefs I wasn’t sure what we could do  to  ease or give comfort. Nikki  and I  purchased  two  rosaries from the Cathedral and had them blessed by  the priest, one for Angela and one for her aunt whose sorrow I know was crippling.

Nikki flew back earlier and my  husband and I  stayed,  he came down with  some sort of horrible flu and by  the time we traveled back  10  days later , we all had it, my mum, me and him.  Mum ended up  in hospital and I  was out for the count for 11 days. It meant that I didn’t get to  see Chris, none of us did  because we daren’t with  his compromised immune system . I didn’t get to  see him until a month  later.  He had changed in the months I  hadn’t seen him, his blonde hair had come back in dark, he had a goatee sort of beard that was tinged with red, he looked older in fact his nose had changed , I  am  not sure if the Chemo did something to  the cartilage   but  his nose was thinner, a bit more beaky . I stared at him quietly  seeing the changes in the lines of his face , his eyes , his smile was still the same though. Chris didn’t often smile  but when he did he could light up  a room  and when I saw that smile as we walked into  Nikki’s great room  he lit up  my  heart once more and I  remembered the years of smiles and love he had given to  us  always…….

To  be Continued >>>

 

 

August 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm 2 comments

April 3rd- NO LIMITS -Chapt 3- Chris Ritchey

No Limits- The book 

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/feb-3rd-no-limits-chapter-1-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/03/03/march-3rd-no-limits-chapt-3-chris-ritchey/

After the engagement announcement and the resulting kerfuffle with  the in laws to  be, I decided I would only  do  what I  was asked , no  suggestions or real involvement with  this wedding. I  could tell it would be walking on egg shells time.

A few days after the ring fiasco  Chris called and said Angela wanted us to  go  to  Beechwood where she had made an appointment to try  on wedding gowns.  It was rather short notice but Nikki  and I,  for the sake of fence mending, agreed to  share in  what should have been a delightful afternoon. In fact it was  except the mother of the bride was not there, aunts and grandmother etc but no  Sue Lombardi.  Angela duly  tried on various gowns and she did look lovely. I suggested that I would purchase the  wedding veil  of her choice.

 

Since I  had to  get back to  a meeting – already planned- Nikki  and I  left. I found out later Sue eventually showed up  as she didn’t want to  take the time off work. Chris called and said Sue was  very upset and

“What would I  have done- would I  have taken the time off? “ 

” Chris you  aren’t pulling me into  that  situation”.. and I  kept quiet. 

 

Chris had  still not recovered his usual good humour , although  he was speaking to  his sister once again. I couldn’t figure out what we had done wrong now. Finally , Nikki told me : Apparently  Chris was beside himself  worrying as to  how he was going to  pay  for the wedding items that Sue and Angela had said  were his obligation. The rehearsal dinner, cars, flowers , liquor for the reception, gifts, photographer, honeymoon  etc. He had spent his savings on that ring and had just been offered a position with Wyse Advertising. Since  his family  had paid for all his college – 5 years at Cleveland Institute of Art he did not have any  student loans and he was trying to  get a loan for this wedding.

I thought to  myself some of those  of those expenses should have been covered by  the Lombardi  family and they  should have realized what a wedding list of over 200 would cost this young man.  but as I  said

I  was going to  keep  my  mouth  shut .

Chris came home from work and I asked him what exactly  was worrying him  and he told me. I told him his father and I  would pay  for all he needed to  pay  for and not to  worry. He balked at the idea  and I  said:

OK let us pay  for it , rather than you  taking out a loan  and you  can pay  it  back to  us over time.

It was decided and life pretty  much  went on, people being young and planning. Although   it wasn’t  all plain sailing as  the bridesmaids and groomsmen were picked and Nikki , Chris’s sister was left out of the plans.  Chris asked her why  she wasn’t going to  look at the bridesmaids dresses  and she informed him

” I  wasn’t asked , I  don’t believe I  am part of the wedding party” ( although  her husband was)

Chris immediately  got on the phone to  Angela

“Nikki  is one of the wedding party  right? ( the reply  of yes if she wants to  be) rather a backhanded invitation ….

Looking back these things faded into  the realm of  really  didn’t matter they  were inconsequential  in the grand scheme of life. Summer passed , autumn and Christmas and then in February  a trip  to  the Doctors for Chris, whom we thought  was not getting over bronchitus and swollen glands .

Our world was suddenly  turned  upside down inside out and  the silent screaming started : I wrote about the phone call   10  days  later:

All it takes is a phone call to  start you screaming

Hello!
It was a phone call that sent an icy cold that permeated through my very core and has not left me yet, my brain not wanting to “compute” what my ears were hearing, mouth dry, eyes welling with tears , the incredulousness, the denial , the confusion, the sheer terror that runs through your frame, your mind screaming, a few seconds that changes your life forever- nothing will ever be the same.

A phone call that leaves you weeping with fear, that terror, whose tentacles reach through your very being, tearing at your insides, ripping to shreds happiness and laughter. One of the people you love more than life itself, one that you gave birth to, cuddled, bathed, fed and protected is on Route 2 and has answered another (cell) phone to be told that test results (for possible bronchitis) have come back with a life threatening disease.

face of a cancer cell

Someone please wake me from this nightmare……..what am I supposed to do, what do I say, how can I do anything- someone , anyone why????????????????
The look on your husband’s face as he tries to understand the picture of what is happening with this conversation………

The dread disease that sends a mother into the world of deal making ,

No please – not my child , let it be me, take me ,God how can I bear this?
How can I be brave and make it better when my heart is exploding with pain, every part of me screaming from the gauntlet of emotions that are coursing through my very essence?

You are removed from the world around you –

Nothing matters, not the politics, not the crime, not the state of the roads, not the weddings, the weather, blogs, the pettiness, media , CRA’s, pontificators, principles , presidents, arguments ….. .nothing…. your world has shrunk, your planet consists of no more than 8 people and the all consuming fire of fear that your child is going to be in a world of hurt and you are helpless.


You want to curl up in a dark place – trying not to feel, to escape but the pain and confusion drags you back to the surface of desperation, despair and the reality that is now your world.

Eventually the body decides, through sheer exhaustion, to sleep but the nightmare doesn’t stop, you wake, a pillow wet with tears, a coldness that remains in your very core reminding you there is no escape- you truly do

“wake from sleep exhausted”(Susette Kelo)

Family , friends try to be encouraging and for that you are grateful but in a mother’s heart there is really nothing that they can do or say , you want to wake up from the nightmare, make it go away.

Make it stop

You look for anything that will give you hope -that there is a mistake but somehow inside you know the truth – it will not go away – it is going to have to be dealt with.

No matter how old your child becomes they will always be your child. You see not the young man or daughter – you see the chubby 2 year old with soft plump arms, the eyes that never change

only mummy can’t- no soft butterfly kisses or a cookie is going to fix this – there is no magic bandaid with happy faces.

Your life and that of your loved ones is contingent upon a surgeon’s knife and upon a lab in California – a stranger making a decision that will decide whether there is happiness , hope or pain to come in your life and that of your child. You are just another lab report , a number with an insurance billing code- a job of work.

This nightmare of speculation and waiting for the next body blow , like some sort of insidious torture technique, rips at you and the very fabric of your family . Life goes on around you but you are removed you go through the motions but you aren’t really there and you only care about the turmoil that one phone call caused.

The tests, the scans, the trips to the hospital, the waiting rooms with color co-ordinated furnishings, a laugh echoing through a hallway, people talking about the weather, a child crying as life goes on -biopsies, more waiting – hoping- praying pleading with a greater power

“please let them have this wrong ” “please let it be a mistake”

Watching every movement,

“are they eating , are they paler today , the cough – is it better, worse,?”

Trying to smile, to put on the brave face and make life normal until the results are in, cooking food no one really wants to eat , but the strength has to be kept up.

Laying awake watching the clock tick away the hours of life and darkness, waiting for morning……things always look better in the daylight,
but that isn’t true- the mornings come and there is no sanctuary in the watery, wintery sun. Days run into one another, hours, the calendar and the marked events deemed important enough to make note of are no longer significant in their passing.

The darkness envelopes and you think of other mothers, how do they cope with news that threatens their babies, their teenagers, the mothers whose sons and daughters return from war missing limbs and with horrific injuries, how do they cope even having them in harms way- day after day ?

How does a mother bear the news that her child is gone- no longer to hold them, to feel a heartbeat , to gaze with love upon their face, the hear their laugh , to see their eyes no more ….the gut wrenching sadness the rises up. unasked, unwanted, and overflows with the releasing of tears without warning.

Then the results and you know, even before the Doctor opens his mouth – you see his eyes- what they are…. you hear the bad news tempered with good news and hope and another journey begins…………and you know that somewhere another mother shares your pain and fear and is trying to make a deal

take me, not my child………………..

To  be continued

April 3, 2020 at 2:03 pm 3 comments

Feb 3rd – NO LIMITS- Chapter 1. Chris Ritchey

NOTE: At one point in their relationship  Angela told me she had said to  Chris, ” Your  mother  ( Me) will write our love story and you  ( Chris) will do  the illustrations. Well not exactly  the story  anyone envisioned.. but the truth!

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/jan-3rd-no-limits-the-forward-chris-ritchey/

CHAPTER ONE…. 

I was married for 8 years before I felt the quickening of a baby beneath my heart, a baby girl whom I cherished and cherish. 3 years and 10 months later a little boy completed our small family. Like countless mothers before me, I would talk to my children as they grew within my body. The day they were born, the moment mother and child were left to one another after all the turmoil of birth, I too, promised them to always love them, protect them and never let anything happen to them. I wish I could put into words the feeling that grabs at your very innards as your child is put into your arms.

Some say that exquisite joy must be compensation for the pain of birth, others will tell you the bond is strengthened by the fact the child’s DNA having passed through the walls of the womb stays with the mother. Therefore, you are always part of your mother’s body. Months of sharing a body, heart and breath of life, there is nothing closer, the sound of a mother’s heartbeat- the lullaby of life. The very life essence that makes each one of individuals shared and a love that knows no limits. All I can tell you is that from that first fluttering of life I was consumed with a love for them that was greater than anything I had previously known.

The bond I shared with my son was different to the one I shared with my daughter. Nikki was so like her father, laid back, non-confrontational and even tempered. Chris, on the other hand, was volatile, passionate, definitely did not suffer fools and loved a good fight. He was more my child. I always knew what would set him off and we had the proverbial test of wills as he was growing up but underneath the clashes of wills he knew I would walk through fire for him and I knew he would do the same for us. The love shared was not on show, it was there and deep rooted.

My little girl and her baby brother soon left childhood days behind, life was normal, school, holidays, hobbies new friends , new loves and yet my daughter Nikki and her brother Chris retained a bond between them that was unbreakable. Nikki was always there for Chris and Chris was always there for Nikki. It wasn’t contrived or for show, they were each other’s sounding board, life line – it was them against the world, if need be.

I would watch them and knew whatever happened to me or their father they would always take care of each other no matter what.

 

 

 

 

Nikki married, moved out, life went on.

 

Chris was a student at Cleveland Institute of Art.

Other self by Chris Ritchey

Every weekend he came home and when I say home – he had two, this house where he was born and his sister’s. Nikki’s husband, Jim, became the brother Chris never had.

There was a lot of love and laughter in those years. I knew Nikki would always have Chris in time of need and Nikki would fly to his side no matter what. I relaxed in the notion they would always have each other.

He had been dating a young woman in his last year of High School- Angela Lombardi. She seemed a quiet little thing, I tried to make her welcome when she came for holiday dinners. I always got the feeling we were getting what my mother called the white glove test and that we didn’t measure up to her standards.

photo Angela by Chris Ritchey

Although my son broke up with her for a few weeks in the latter part of 2005 “as she was too clingy and didn’t give him room” they did get back together thanks in part to a conversation I had with him at 4 o’clock in the morning!

He had asked me:

mum what is love ? 

We explored, love, the flush of new love and sexual attraction, the role of family and caring. The conversation lasted many hours, a few weeks later Chris renewed the relationship with Angela.

I was happy at the time although the day in June when  he came through the door with his sister with “news” – I wasn’t so sure .

I saw the look on Chris and Nikki’s faces that June day- they sat guilty together , after asking their dad to join us in the living room my mind racing, something was up? Finally Nikki said to Chris-

you’d better tell them!

My first thought was Oh God Angela is pregnant- it was that sort of vibe – not such good news coming- I held my breath.

Then Chris said quietly-

Angela wants to get married –

I was stunned, not what I was expecting!  Not knowing what to say ‘relief I guess she wasn’t pregnant”

“ Well congratulations, I guess – how about YOU do you want to get married ?

Chris gave a little shrug :

I suppose so –

Worrying to me what he said and didn’t say – this was not the reaction of a young man who was getting engaged.

Chris had just been hired by Wyse Advertising, he had very little money to speak of and was just starting his career.

I said “well you’d better plan on living here to save up for married life.

My thoughts of this is not good timing – my  thoughts  to the “other mother in the equation” A person I  had barely  met more that a half a dozen times , and never really  had any  conversation with  her at all.  – I asked:

when was the date?

Chris didn’t know and I found myself thinking Sue Lombardi, the mother of Angela, I knew from mutual acquaintances  was a controlling individual when it came to Angela – she  would surely make it a long engagement .

How many times had Chris ordered flowers on my credit card  account to cheer Angela up when the mother, whom they called Mama Sue and Psycho Sue, had upset her for NOT living up to Sue’s standards of achievement? I thought, Sue will not be happy at this and therefore I needn’t worry………..

The engagement – to  be continued 

 

February 3, 2020 at 2:04 pm 6 comments

Jan 3rd- No Limits- the foreword- Chris Ritchey

I  start another decade, recent months have been very  hard, some of the situations I  have blogged about some may  not ever come to  light on this blog. I am waiting … I have spent most of December deciding on how to  proceed . I am definitely  going to  “try  and finish” the book NO LIMITS as it pertains to  my  son. Although 10 ish chapters have already  been written I have had to  decide how to  proceed. I have made the decision to not only  publish in paperback form  eventually  but I may start serializing  each month on this blog. Here for your edification ( readers who still bear with me ) is the foreword  of NO LIMITS!!!!!!

NO LIMITS

By Loraine Ritchey

“Nothing should be hidden or untouchable, if it is your truth and you stand behind it – no one should be able to silence you “

Foreword- NO LIMITS

Brave words from my son, Christopher, on a fall day, his 4th year at Cleveland Institute of Art. I had met him for a meal in Tremont, Ohio. He was so very angry, one of his projects had met with resistance and indeed censorship. His anger and frustration spilled out:

Why were his thoughts not being accepted in a very community that accepts so much more than the general population? Why would he be censored in the very open environment of an art college where nothing it seemed was untouchable?

After all, his fellow students went outside so many politically incorrect boundaries. Had he gone past where even those of his peers were feared to go? Had he come up against the self-imposed limits of a society of his peers?

I never did find out what the project was that caused the censorship and his anger that day. In true Christopher fashion, he changed his project to another, an “Anti-Political Correctness Campaign– complete with displays and posters He used the situation to “speak out” and “show” those who believed themselves to be followers of the out of the box thinking, they were still inside a box, even if the box they had made was larger than most, their walls maybe be transparent yet there were and are walls.

 

freedom of speech by Chris Ritchey

As I ponder the wisdom of writing the events of life as we know it and death as we believe it to be, I know there will be questions I cannot answer, events I cannot prove.

I am opening myself, my family and my son to a world of naysayers, negativity and ridicule. I will reach the walls with this book. I will push aside and through the walls my peers in this “community”  and others have erected for themselves and for me.

Ironically although  I have always written the truth whenever I have sat at this keyboard and its predecessors I probably   won’t be believed , explanations will abound, logic ( as we perceive things to happen)will come into play .

I have hesitated for months, even years, to tell the story from my self-imposed box. I have written millions of words on my personal blog in the 10 years since my son died. https://www.thatwoman.wordpress.com . I have written his story, I have opened myself and my innermost thoughts and feelings. I have told the tale of cruelty, searing pain and thoughts of suicide. I have exposed myself in ways not many would without fear. So then, why is it I hesitate to share all of our story, a story of continuing love, strength and astonishment?

What could be so dangerous in opening up a world of hurt to my loved ones? Why would a love that continues cause such angst and trepidation in those of my society?

Society? Oh they can’t hurt me, I am beyond their pain, their laughter The sound of laughter to one who rarely laughs is just pleasant echo of what once was. There should be laughter in the world, I do not begrudge laughter or being the source of humor. The disbelief , I don’t care whether they believe or what they believe, so many believe so many different things, worship so many gods, those slings and arrows will not penetrate my being there is an armor in “knowing” The insults and negativity that will come as the story unfolds will bring the comments-

Why not my loved one? Why them? It is the grief, she wants money, she wants her five minutes of fame, and she always was strange. , needs medication, exploiting her son. They are just consumed with grief, hallucinating.

Yes! I can hear those raucous voices, tinged with the cynicism, of organized religion or lack of religious beliefs. So why martyr my family on the pyre of society? Why open this family to those who would wound?

I HAVE to document what happened to this family and my son, for the sake of my daughter, grandsons and future generations. I have to be brave, as my son was brave. I need to tell this story of a mother’s nightmare, of a love that reaches through the barriers of disbelief, of hope. I have the need to document and yet there is a fear my son will once again be negated in death as he was in life by those of “beliefs”.

Every night I see one of my son’s “projects’ from his graphic design course as it hangs framed upon the bedroom wall. It was a small project

Take three words and make the visual connection. Timid- Confidence, Aggressive- coupled with Past, Present and Future to tell a story.

 

It is the “future” graphic which nags at me, his future was not to be. The cartoon character of a snow boarder explaining his future and the word “aggressive”. I looked at the artwork through tears for weeks as it hung, along with other projects, on the wall. It wasn’t until I looked very carefully one day whilst dusting; I noticed written faintly on the bottom of the snowboard “No limits” and yet I too, have limited the truth by omitting a truth from my writings on my blog..

It is time to  tell the story  so long in waiting no matter the consequences….

To be continued … Chapter  One 

January 2, 2020 at 11:32 pm 8 comments

Dec 3rd – TIME of our Life- Chris Ritchey

Artwork Chris Ritchey

Every  3rd of the month I write a tribute to you   my  son , I  have  written , apart from the other memories of your passing  over 120 posts. I write to  release the pain that builds, to  take the thoughts out of my  mind and put them on paper, or in this case on this blog. If I didn’t they  would consume me more than they  do  and I  would not get any  relief. The tears I  shed as I  write drop  onto the desk  and over these many  months the varnish  has all but gone  – a surface worn away  by  my  tears.

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/category/chris-ritchey/

Other self by Chris Ritchey

How can that be possible? How have 10  years passed? How can that be?  You  see for most of my  nights and days I am back in time , to  a time where life and death  and selfishness have trapped me, and not only  me  your father is on this same journey. I dream of you  but you  always have cancer and I  am always searching for a cure or help, then I  wake  there is a moment of relief that it was just a dream and then I  realize  I  have woken to  my  nightmare, there was no  cure no  help… I  am in reality……………..

The diagnostic box- self- portrait Chris Ritchey

I am reminded of H.G. Wells and The Time Machine , I feel like the lead character sitting in that machine , only the lever is not controlled by  me but by  a profound grief, that is stronger than any  will of mine.   I  sit in place in my  own device  as I  watch the world around me go from the future to  the present.

photo -self -Chris Ritchey

Every now and then I leave the machine of grief and experience the world of the present, happiness comes , anger comes, passion – very  rarely, duty to  others is limited and they  are the ones I  hold most dear. That is why  although  it is now 10 years this December 3rd. since I last saw  your face, kissed your cheek,  held your hand and lost ME. No  longer Loraine, but a facsimile   who left this place when you  did . The unbearable is borne  tempered by  love of your family , sisters, nephews  brother in law and father. Deep breaths  and the conscious and sub-conscience  effort by  the brain to  hold back the excruciating  emotions that wrack the physical body.

Anger at those that through  hypocrisy  and selfishness ( Tim Sue Lombardi, Angela (Lombardi – Ritchey) and now Murphy – and their family  and church ( Father Daniel  Divas  whose wickedness ( in my  opinion)  perpetuated  and took whatever compassion with  them in their  act of callousness. not to  be forgiven- then or now  

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/something-wicked-our-way-came/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/december-11th-the-beginning-of-the-beginning/

 

 

but that same anger also  has kept me upright.

 

The 10th  anniversary marked by   the yearly  posts of December 3rd  and as the new year dawns once again to  finally  finish  the book- NO LIMITS.

Starting a new chapter both  literally  and figuratively  -not the regurgitating of posts- but of your life and presence in the present………..

The Touch- Chris Ritchey

Your words ring through  my  mind  and indeed is part of the forward in the book

“Nothing should be hidden or untouchable, if it is your truth and you stand behind it – no one should be able to silence you “

freedom of speech by Chris Ritchey

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/dec-4th-how-cold-is-cold-lombardi/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/december-3rd-chris-ritchey-yesterday/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/december-3rd-the-trilogy-of-tears-christopher-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/december-3rd-memorial-chris-ritchey/

 

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/december-3rd-there-is-no-peace-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/december-3rd-end-of-days-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/dec-3rd-the-loop-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/dec-3rd-the-waiting-chris-ritchey/

https://thatwoman.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/dec-3rd-crumbling-walls-chris-ritchey/

My  time here in this world  grows shorter as the days continue – I have to  finish this book and publish – as “truth  is definitely  the daughter of time” and time is running out…… I  love you  and miss you  every  moment of these days  and oh so long nights  no matter the  year I find myself existing……

 

December 2, 2019 at 11:01 pm Leave a comment

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