Last Monday night the subject of my second book, my stepson Michael, was in a motorcycle accident. The book I have been writing involves the story of Michael finding his 17 year old brother hung at the age of 15. His life spiraled out of control and through the grace of God and the love of his Mom and Dad and his large family he was brought back. In August he will be celebrating 5 years of sobriety. He is a skilled carpenter, a title holding kick boxer and a home owner. His story, to me was miraculous. This young man battled back from the darkness of hell. As I find myself spending nights in the ICU just praying and waiting for his recovery..I can not help being brought back to the story of David and my many nights in the ICU praying for his survival.
Michael will survive. It has been a week of steps forward and three steps back. He is still in critical condition and has not woken up. He is facing his 7th surgery in ten days tomorrow. Watching the man I love, my husband John, and Michael's mother's devastation is breaking my heart. I know what they are feeling. But I know in my heart God will not take another child from them.
FROM "BRISTOL STOMP"
Where would she be going this time of night? It was after midnight and Birna was backing out of her driveway. I got one of those horrible feelings. Was something wrong with the baby? I convinced myself it was something as simple as a late night snack. I pulled up beside her and rolled down my window. “David got into a fight and I have to go to the hospital and pick him up”, she said. This really confused me. David involved in a fight? David does not fight. David hates fighting. I told her I would drive her. She got into my car and I headed to Lower Bucks Hospital. Birna told me she had no idea what had happened, other than David went to band practice. I told her about my night out with the girls and she told me about a special dinner she had cooked for Dave. She told me she was getting irritated with him because he was not home yet.
When we were close to the hospital she asked me where I was going. Lower Bucks, I answered. I assumed David’s band practice was in Bristol and the hospital is in Bristol. “They took him to Frankford/Torresdale”, she told me. My stomach dropped. I felt like I could not breathe. Frankford is a trauma center; it is in Northeast Philadelphia. They only take you there, from Bristol, if you are seriously hurt and you usually go in an ambulance. I was panicking and at the same time trying to appear calm. I did not want Birna to panic. The ride to the hospital was long. I do not know how I knew where it was, I just drove. I tried to come up with conversation to keep my mind from imagining the worst. I asked her if she was sure it had been a fight. Could they have said it was an accident? Yes a car accident would make more sense. They would take him to the trauma center as a precaution. No, she said, they said it was a fight and it happened in Bristol. That was what she knew.
I walked up to the desk and told the receptionist I was there to pick up David Albert. She told me there was no patient there by that name. A wave of relief came over me. I asked Birna who had called her. I was tired, it was late and I just wanted to pick Dave up and get home. “The police”, she answered and she was quite sure they said Frankford/Torresdale. I explained this to the receptionist and asked her to please check again. The news was not good. A nurse came out and told us Dave was unresponsive; he had been beaten very badly and needed surgery immediately to relieve pressure on his brain because of a head injury. No, we could not see him. She told us to have a seat in the waiting room. I could not think in full sentences.
The word brain surgery kept rolling around in my head. This is scary, I kept thinking. It was getting really difficult to remain rational. Nothing was making sense. I needed to call somebody. Birna did not want me to call the family until we knew more. I called my daughter, Jill. I told her where we were and asked her if she would try to call the guy’s from Dave’s band and find out what happened. I also asked her to call my mother and my brothers, Frank and Nick and my sister. Brain surgery just sounded so serious and I was not sure how much longer I could keep it together. Even if it did turn out to be not so serious; I just thought they should know.
A nurse took Birna and me into another waiting room on the second floor. It was a large room and there was no one else in there. It was so quiet. Birna and I just sat there. I was afraid to speak and absolutely terrified to think. I just kept imagining the nurse coming in and saying we have stitched him up and you can take him home.
Family members started to arrive at 3:00 in the morning. We still had no idea what had happened. There were just voices and then silence and voices. I have no idea what we were talking about. It was like one of those crazy dreams where you are straining to hear what is being said but you really do not care. The surgery went on all through the night. Dave had been with Joey and Anthony, band mates, and there was a fight. That was all we knew and it made no sense what so ever.
Why is David always the one who scares me? Early in the morning, Dave was wheeled out of surgery. We were able to see him for a minute. It was awful. He was so bruised I did not recognize him. The doctor explained he had suffered several very serious head injuries. A shunt was placed in his brain to relieve pressure. He was placed in a medically induced coma. She also explained that there where many other injuries, a shattered kidney, broken bones and deep cuts. These would have to wait, she said, because the head injuries were critical. She was not optimistic. In her opinion, David would not make it. I could not believe she came right out and said that. She was old. That’s what I thought. Maybe around 64, she was totally grey and her hair was a mess. Straggly I thought. A woman brain doctor, strange I was thinking. Was she in medical school forty years ago? She must have been smart. I did not like her, not one bit. Her words echoed in my head. I was going numb. He is still alive, I just kept saying that.
I needed to know how this happened. Who did this to my baby brother and why? I knew whatever happened it had happened in Bristol. I knew Randy Morris the police detective there. When I managed the Pizza Hut Delivery I used to give him and the other cops pizzas. I called him. He had no idea Dave was in critical condition. He said there had been a fight and he
was still trying to sort out the facts. He told me he was at an arraignment and would come to the hospital when he was through. I needed to talk to Anthony and Joey. They were nowhere to be found. There was no way they did this to Dave. Or did they? They were the best of friends, they were all fathers and they always got along. They were grown-ups. I could not think of one reason they would want to beat Dave up. I did not really think that was the answer but they were the ones that were with him. And where were they now? What was I supposed to think?
I went into David’s room. We had to take turns. A machine breathed for him. Wires hanging and that awful beep, beep sound of monitors. I told him I loved him and that I would never leave him. He was covered in dry crusty blood. I wanted to wash him. The nurse said that was not a good idea right then. It was important for his brain to rest. He had pieces of glass stuck in his face and on his hands. I found that strange. Why had they not removed that glass from him? It must hurt. How did he get glass all over him? Was he in a car accident? A car accident most certainly made more sense. There had to be some confusion here.
I wanted my son. He was away, in Army boot camp. David was his best friend. My heart sank. I did not want to give him this news but I needed him. I called the Red Cross. The woman told me she would have to speak to David’s doctor. I thought, damn does she really think I would make something like this up?
I gave her the phone number for the hospital. It felt good to be thinking of something else, to be working on something. After speaking with the doctor the woman from the Red Cross told me they would indeed arrange to have Jimmy sent home. This is really bad, I thought. If they were sending Jimmy home from the Army, it is bad. I did not know what else to do. I was so tired. I thought of my job. It was still early but I thought I better call my boss. I worked in Advertising at the Bucks County Courier Times. The news paper, I thought, one of the reporters may know what happened. I would have my boss check with the news room to see if they knew what had happened. Then I remembered it was Saturday. I went back into the waiting room, sat down and closed my eyes. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up from this horrendous nightmare.
Scroll all the way down to see pictures Michael, my stepson,who is fighting for his life.
They say every face in a crowd has a story to tell, this is my story..
The news shows and newspapers all called it 'Road Rage'. To me that sounded like a disease, an affliction that can make you kill. A sorry excuse to take the claw end of a hammer and slam it repeatedly into the skull of a human being. In April of 1999 my little brother passed away. Doesn't passed away sound so gentle, even normal? David's death was neither. It was murder. He was found lying in a strangers driveway in a pool of blood. He had been punched, stomped and beaten over his entire body. I still have so many questions. I wrote this book at first for therapy and then for answers. I have found a few. I mainly realized l lost a brother tragically and senselessly. Like every other face in the crowd I have a story..and I want to share my story with you! PUBLICATION DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED LATE SUMMER/EARLY FALL :)