The last four and half days have been an utter nightmare. My sister-in-law, Kim was killed in an automobile accident on Saturday, September 13, 2003. That night, I had to see my baby niece in a hospital hooked up to so many tubes that she looks like she should be in a Borg incubation chamber. Then, I learned that she was brain dead. After my remaining niece and nephew had their chance to say good-bye to their baby sister, my sister, her husband and I took them home to our house. Later that same Saturday night, my older brother faced with the grim reality that his little baby girl was not coming back to him, decided to have Madison taken off life support. He held her in his arms one last time as she left this life.
I kept my other niece and nephew for most of the day on Sunday. I went to the local Wal-Mart Super Center to get some groceries. A close friend, Bob called me on my cell-phone. We had planned to go to Las Vegas this week to hang out with some mutual friends. As you can guess, I had to bow out. It was surreal talking to Bob about what had happened while standing in the coffee aisle with tens of people walking by. It is hard to console a child about the loss of their mother and their baby sister, especially when you are on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
I saw Kim and Madison for the first time together on Monday night at the funeral home. Neither Kim nor Madison looked real. Madison looked like a life-size baby doll. Kim looked like a mannequin from a department store. I cried like a child. No, I wept. I did not cry that hard even when my own grandmother died on Christmas last year. The only rational explanation I can give is following: My grandmother had been ill for many years, and she had been in a nursing home since 1996; I had an opportunity to make my peace with her passing. A piece of human debris violently took Kim and Maddie from my family. There was no rhyme to reason for their deaths.
If that was not enough, on Tuesday, I had to help my dad retrieve any personal effects from my sister-in-law’s car. I had seen the damage to the car on the local television news, but seeing in reality was far worse. The accident crushed the motor like a tin can that is to be recycled. Either the emergency crews or the accident ripped the roof of the car off. There was glass through out the car. I found shredded pieces of clothing that belonged to my baby niece in the car. The sight of my sister-in-law’s car moved my Dad, a US Marine, a Vietnam Veteran almost to tears; I had not seen my Dad cry since my Grandfather’s death in 1988. Looking at that car, I felt like someone had ripped out my heart from my chest. There was a pronounced void in my being.
When we got back to the funeral home, my brother wanted to know if he should go see the car. I told him “No.” Although it was a one-word answer, when our eyes met, my brother could see how the sight of Kim’s car had emotionally devastated me. He started to weep, and so did I. Finally, today was the funeral. I do not want to tell what happened today right now because it is too personal to my family and me. Kim and Madison enriched my life. Words cannot describe how much I loved them and how much I will miss them. I believe that I will see them again. Therefore, the question is not if I will see them again, but when. That gives me hope, and some measure of peace.