Tag Archives: blood

molly loves rachel.

I have started and stopped this blog off and on for weeks; mostly because it’s fairly personal, and secondly, it doesn’t have a humorous angle to it really… unless I find something at the end that can take it there.

It was a warm, and pleasantly so, Friday evening in October 1997 in suburban West Grove, when I was sitting on the sofa waiting for a pizza to be delivered that I had ordered for the kids and I. Geri (my ex-wife) was working late and would be home shortly as our older kids, Ashley and Drew were upstairs in their rooms reading and computer gaming respectively. The doorbell startled me slightly as I stood figuring it was the pizza being delivered and opened the door. It was my neighbor from across the street, Jeff, looking a little pale as he said “Ed, there has been an accident with Terri (his wife) and the kids. Molly is with them as well.”

The odd thing I remember about this moment was my uneasy sense of calmness. I thought that perhaps they were sideswiped, or had a tire blow out, or a mild fender bender of some kind and I thought they possibly needed us to come pick them up and bring them all home. My image could not have been further from the truth.

As Jeff drove us to the site of the accident, we were both silent… my mind still playing this cruel trick of denial at the possible severity of the situation. I was naive. As we rounded the bend after a very long 10 minute ride, we were halted by a police officer who had the road closed. After we identified who we were, he avoided eye contact and directed us to park so we could walk up a small hill to where the accident was.

I can remember like it was yesterday as Jeff and I walked, and then sprinted up this hill together yet quite separate. The entire situation was now playing in slow motion as if I were watching a movie and playing a role that I was unfamiliar with and did not want to play. The smoke, the stench of gasoline and the sound of sirens were beginning to take over, and it was getting dark…

The first image truly BURNED into my mind was father (Jeff) and mother (Terri) seeing each other face to face for the first time in the surreal flashing lights and fuel smoked darkness as I noticed briefly that Terri’s arm was wrapped and in a sling of some sort. Their faces screamed anguish like none I ever seen, the words I could not hear as they embraced and I continued further into this nightmare of lights, crying, shouting, the chatter of walkie talkies, orange and blue uniforms, an over-turned smoking black SUV in the middle of the road and the ever present smell of burning gasoline as I continued crunching on broken glass for a few more yards… I could literally hear my heart pounding in slow motion as I came upon the minivan alongside of the road split in two like a broken candy bar but still held together somehow in the back. Inside the van was my daughter’s 7 year old best friend, Rachel, and she was just lying on the seat surrounded by broken glass that shimmered like ice as my mind continued to falsify reality by telling me that she was just sleeping with the only physical damage being a slight trickle of blood from her scalp that flowed delicately onto the seat of the van below her. My first thought was, WHY is she alone. Why were the EMT’s not near her? I could see them in a huddle on the street over something or someone (which I later surmised was Terri and Jeff’s youngest 5 year old son Georgie) that I could not register. I startled myself when my own voice that I did not recognize screamed, “Where is MOLLY WILLIAMS?!”

Someone answered in an echo, “She is up the bank in the cornfield!”

I scrambled through some slight brush to where there were 3 or 4 EMT’s surrounding my Molly on one of those stretchers that is used to secure a patient. In the dark, my mind continued to play tricks as I came upon my 6 year old child strapped securely as I bent down as I said, almost TOO softly, “Molly?” The way I was situated was sort of looking at her upside down, her entire face covered in blood as I leaned in to look closer. Her eyes were closed as if dead or as if she were shutting out the horrendous visual images thrust before her. She opened her eyes, and I remember with the deep red blood as a background over her entire face, that her eyes were the bluest eyes I had ever, and will ever, see in my life… she spoke to me in a tiny, quivering voice, “I’m gonna be okay Daddy,” almost as if it were a question to me and as if she was trying desperately to force away this nightmare. She had a deep gash in her forehead that was so deep, I could see her skull. If you’ve ever been a parent or anyone really, who has seen someone close in dire peril and you have to FORCE yourself to LOOK calm in your eyes and face, it is the hardest yet most crucial thing you can do. I managed a weak grin and helped the EMT’s load her into the waiting ambulance.

Molly, the EMTs and I shared a long, Friday night traffic filled, siren blared ride to Christiana Hospital while the EMT’s gave me her initial rundown of leg fractures, severe head trauma and possible internal injuries yet to be determined. Molly and I held hands as I was on the phone trying to calm my wife at the time. It seemed like it took HOURS to get to the hospital…

Unaware that all three children were taken to the same hospital and floor, I ran into Jeff in a small side hallway while I was waiting for the doctor to “hand-set” Molly’s broken leg as well as check for additional injuries. We were alone together surrounded by a sea of stark white echoes as we hugged and he whispered weakly in my ear that “Rachel will not make it. George is in a medically induced coma and under observation.” In my mind, I am thinking that this is not true and that God will fix all of this and we’ll all just go home tomorrow and eat the cold pizza while watching a Disney video. He did not fix this.

Rachel did not make it. We surrounded her “brain-dead” body 24 hours later to pray for her as the life support was about to be removed. Her organs were donated and her spirit continues to live deep within us all. Georgie had eventually come out of the coma and recuperated nicely after having plastic surgery to fix a deep “X-shaped” over 100 stitched gash in his face.

Molly has developed into an amazing daughter to me. She had plastic surgery on her forehead, and wore a leg cast while having to be in a wheelchair for several weeks. We’ve talked about that night. She once told me that she remembered feeling like the van was going to blow up with her in it due to the heavy smell of gasoline, and she thought all her teeth were broken (it was shattered glass in her mouth) and she remembers how her friend Rachel’s body was lying on her lap after the accident and she wouldn’t wake up.

The experience forced Molly and I to have a relationship like no other. A relationship where we KNOW that life is precious and that LOVE is the most important thing in the world. Rachel’s favorite thing was turtles. Molly had a first tattoo illustrated on the inside of her wrist last year of a turtle.

I’m struggling with trying to find something funny about this post; perhaps the fact that when I hug people today, I hug them a little harder and longer than most, almost inappropriately so. Life is not a guarantee. Revel in it EVERY day.

Love,

ed.

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My Heart Will Go On…

Ugh… remember THAT song? Actually this story is NOT about THAT song that I initially liked, then loved, then I just wanted to punch Celine Dion in the face. I digress. THIS story is about MY heart.

Don’t panic. It’s not broken, injured or even bleeding (although some of my conservative friends would beg to differ); it was just a follow-up visit to my cardiologist this morning.

I had what I refer to as heart palpitations last year that culminated this past summer while Daryl and I were on a mini-excursion to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. We cut the trip short on the second day, taking the train home because my heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest, and NOT in a GOOD way (like when I saw Barbra Streisand LIVE in concert for the first time in 1992).

As soon as we returned to West Chester, I asked Daryl if he would take me to the Emergency Room. One thing led to another, and eventually I ended up being admitted and eating the rest of my vacation days on the Chester County Hospital cardio floor (well not actually ON THE FLOOR, but the bed WAS hard as a frickin’ rock). After a slew of tests, probes (again, NOT in a good way) and enough blood drawn to start my own “Twilight,” it was diagnosed (by doctors, Hui, Louis and Dewey – DEAD serious) that I was suffering from atria fibulation which is apparently quite common and certainly somewhat treatable in my case. I was prescribed Metoprolol which slows down my heart rate and makes my blood pressure stay low.

I’ve been doing fine since then and I had a scheduled follow up visit early this morning with my cardiologist, Dr. Hui at 8:45 am. WHY do I schedule these things so early on my day off? It sounds SO smart and practical when you set appointments up weeks in advance… I think that I’ll get it done early and have the rest of the day to get other things done, but what happens is it’s usually so early that when I get done the scheduled appointment, I just want go home and take a nap!

Anyway, I got to the “Medical Complex” a few minutes early but had to locate a parking space. Okay… they don’t call these places a “complex” for nothing. By the time I FOUND a parking space (in the 500 car capacity lot) that was 3 miles from the front entrance, I was actually 5 minutes LATE for my appointment! At frickin’ 8:45! I can’t figure that one out.

As I bounced (yes, with the average age in the office, my regular gait WAS a bounce) into the reception area, the song playing on the office music system was “To Sir with Love” from the Sidney Poitier movie of the same name. I smiled and greeted the receptionist with, “Do you remember THIS movie?” to which she raised her eyes from her bifocals, stared blankly at me without cracking a smile and said, “Who are you here to see?” I thought to myself, HOW can people be so miserable in the morning, then I realized that in this profession, they probably KNEW the bad effects of caffeine and weren’t allowed to have any.

After the obligatory scanning of insurance cards, signing a few disclaimer forms with more asterisks than I could count (which I NEVER read because they’re just plain scary when your health is involved) and being TOLD to have a seat, I pulled out my iphone to play a quick game of Bejeweled Blitz so I didn’t have to notice that I was the only patient with hair that wasn’t totally gray.

“Mr. Edwin Williams?”a nurse startled me, and I popped my head up and said, “Let me finish my game first” jokingly, to which she dryly retorted, “NOW. The doctor is VERY busy. Follow me this way please.” I got up and followed her through a labyrinth of clinical hallways, shut doors, and a few open doors… I saw one where a man was “floating” horizontally on some sort of machine that looked like something from the Starship Enterprise. He looked a little frightened.

I joked to the nurse who was escorting me deeper into this medical maze that I should have dropped some breadcrumbs so I could eventually find my way out after my visit. She did not smile. AGAIN I considered the lack of caffeine and silently forgave her.

We finally entered “my” exam room and it was about 300 degrees in there. The nurse immediately said that “it was much colder in here earlier” and that I should be thankful as she ordered me to “Remove your shirt please.” I complied and saw her pulling all the cables out of the EKG machine. While she was getting it set up she told me to lie down. I looked around this steam bath and noticed the primitive and unattractive pictures of flowers that usually line office walls and of course there were posters of close up shots of ghastly diseases and a plastic model of a heart and two boxes of surgical gloves. Why can’t I have posters of the Chippendales, some cute kittens or warm beach shots of the Caribbean? And let me romanticize about heartache, heartless and heartfelt… I DON’T need to actually SEE one with veins and in color!

I ALMOST expressed my thoughts verbally to the nurse then quickly realized that she was in charge of REMOVING those sticky tape things from my hairy body and immediately vetoed any additional humor attempts. If you’ve ever had an EKG, you know that there are about ten “cables” that they hook you up to and they conduct the EKG for about 30 seconds. It costs the insurance company about $500 to do this.

Anyway, as she’s hooking me up, I slipped horribly, smiled and asked “What happens if you have an extra cable left over?” to which she did not look up and typed HARDER on the keyboard of the machine as she continued the EKG.

One thing you DON’T want to hear while you’re having your heart rate monitored is, “Hmmm…THAT’S not right.” Mind you, it wasn’t in a panic-like tone, but still, it’s like the time I was on my FIRST commercial airline flight in the 70’s by myself and the “stewardess” looks at a seam in the ceiling of the aircraft that’s covered in ice and says, “Hmmm, I’ve NEVER seen THAT happen before.” You just don’t need to HEAR this, right? After a few “tape” adjustments to correct the problem (I SWEAR she was ripping it off out of jealousy that I was allowed caffeine) and 3 tries later the EKG was complete.

“Nurse Rached” left as my doctor entered and stated, “You look a little sweaty there Mr. Williams. Are you feeling okay?” “Yeah Doc, it’s from the temperature in here” I said.  After the typical taking my blood pressure and listening to my heart, he asked me if I had any questions about the medication he’d prescribed last summer. I instantly chimed up about possible side effects like “always being sleepy” and “putting on extra weight” to which he shook his head and answered NO ,with a grin, to BOTH questions. At least the DOCTOR had a sense of humor.

As I was leaving the “Heart” building after making an appointment for a “Stress Test,” I noted that every other patient was sporting a walker and the music playing was (no lie) “I left my heart in San Francisco.”

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