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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Heartbreak in the most raw sense

So I don't mean to be a buzzkill. I hope everyone's weekend is lovely. We here in our clan have a cold. A runny nosed, scratchy throated, energy draining cold. But we are moving along nonetheless.

Today is the anniversary of possibly the saddest day of my life. I've had some sad ones, but this was emotionally devastating to me and my entire family. Those near to us felt our pain and showed amazing support. Let me start from the beginning.

May 23, 2009: For Mother's Day I bought four tickets to a hula production taking place in Vacaville. We picked up my mom and dad at around 4 and headed down to the show which started at 5:30 pm. The kids were with my mother-in-law; it was a wonderful, stress-free, adult night out. The show was incredible. My hula sisters were amazing. We headed home, chatting happily about the things that we saw and felt while we were watching the show. Jacob and I had plans after the show to go catch a movie with a friend of ours, taking full advantage of the kid-free evening. Little did we know that our plans would change, and our lives would never be the same.

After dropping Mom at home at close to 9 pm, we got home and started looking online for movie times. The house phone rang and to my surprise it was my mom. She proceeded to tell me that when they got home they had a message on the answering machine from a hospital in Tuolumne County. My younger sister had been involved in a head-on collision at 5:30 pm that afternoon. She and her fiancee Nicholas were taking my niece and nephew on a road trip to Yosemite. They would not reach their destination that day. On highway 120, a man crossed a double yellow line to illegally pass and hit their vehicle head on. My sister says that she doesn't remember anything after the initial sight of the other vehicle cresting the hill in their lane. I think it's better that way. I can only imagine the things that her mind is protecting her from.

Nicholas, my sister's 20 year old fiancee was killed instantly upon impact. My niece Christina, who was only two and a half, was also a victim of this terrible accident. It was so difficult to see my younger sister going through so much pain that I could not protect her from. She lost her love and her heart. Her daughter and her fiancee, both such huge parts of her life that cannot ever be returned. She herself suffered from a broken hand, shattered kneecap, and multiple bruises and lacerations. My nephew somehow emerged unscathed.

The weeks following the accident were a whirlwind of activity. Jacob and I made ourselves busy planning a memorial for Christina up here. Thanks to all the generous financial contributions by my co-workers and several other kind souls, we were able to hold a very simple but gorgeous memorial service. I believe that in our darkest hours, we are allowed to see the light in others. The kindness of those near to us and even perfect strangers was amazing and truly reflects the goodness of humanity.

I think of them each day, wondering...Random thoughts. On the 23rd of each month, I stop for pause when I realize that yet another month has passed. Today is the 23rd of May again, a day that to me will be never the same. My life will never be the same. I can't see a White Dodge Intrepid without thinking of the pictures of the car after the accident. I think of Christina and Nicholas all the time. I can only imagine the way my sister feels.

For a long time after the accident I felt guilty that I still had my daughter, and I could tell that it hurt my sister too. I would see her hug Justice and squeeze her just a little bit longer than normal. Now Justice is almost the same age that Christina was when she passed away, and my emotions are a turbulent mess. We will get through this. People trudge through much worse every day. I just wish it wasn't us. I wish my sister had gotten married in March 2010 like they were planning. I wish my niece were still around to play with the rest of her cousins.

So here's my wish to you. Live each day in love with life. Don't live in the past, live in the present. Love hard, laugh loud and often. You never know what could be beyond that crest in the hill.


  1. I can't imagine the pain and sorrow you and your family have had to deal with, I think about this all the time too (even though I don't know them) and it scares me to think how quickly your life can change forever...big hugs to you & your family <3

  2. That is a truly unimaginable tragedy. It takes a very strong and loving family to see each other through that kind of unexpected life changing event. It's times like these that it's important to count your blessings in life.

  3. Wow, what a terrible tragedy. That is the kind of thing that we all have in the back of our minds and something that haunts our most terrible nightmares. I would have a hard going on living my life without my wife and my 7 year old son.
    Live every day like is is going to be the best one ever and you will never have any regrets.

    Take care and thanks for posting.