Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Traumatic Event? Oh my, yes!!!

Has anything traumatic ever happened to you?

This is an incident that I don't think I've ever written about before, and I have a feeling it might be tough to get through. It's not something I even TALK about that often, even with the people closest to me. So bear with me if this isn't the most coherent post I've ever written. (Added after completion: I had to do one paragraph at a time, then take a break, in order to get through it...and I still cried!!!)

It was Thanksgiving Day, 1991. I had just gotten home from a day with family, along with my husband and my two children. Our downstairs neighbor, who was also a friend of my husband's since their school days, had not been feeling well for several days, so I went to check in with him, his wife and their children.

RP was feeling very down, and I suggested that they all come upstairs and join us, as we were planning to watch ET that evening. He declined, but did eventually agree that he would come up and have a talk with my husband during the evening. As I left, I hugged him, and his wife, and said "See ya later!"

We were in the midst of watching ET a little later in the evening when the traumatic part of the evening began in earnest. RP's oldest stepdaughter came up to our apartment through the inner stairway (we lived in a converted home, so there was a stairway from their living room to ours, with locking doors on either side). The stepdaughter was pounding on the door, screaming that her mother wanted my husband to come down right away, as RP had locked himself in the bathroom with his pistol.

The next few minutes were a blur...lots of yelling, all of the other children from downstairs coming to our apartment, all of us huddled around the door to the interior stairs. The next clear memory I have is of my husband yelling up the stairs for me to call 9-1-1, adding "Tell them gunshot wound to the head!"

I punched in the numbers, and listened to it ring...and ring...and ring. Hung up, called again....and got put on HOLD! When I finally got to speak to someone I was screaming at them...gunshot wound to the head, self-inflicted...HURRY!!

Shortly thereafter there was a flurry of activity...police and EMTs arrived rather quickly. For some reason, the police felt it was necessary for them to come in first, guns drawn, to make sure it was safe for the EMTs to enter the house. After the ambulance rushed RP to the hospital, followed by his wife and oldest stepdaughter, there were still police around for quite a while, taking statements from me and my husband.

We had to get our two children, and four children from downstairs, including a small baby, calmed down and settled down for the night, but my husband and I didn't get much sleep at all. RP was taken to the local hospital, and then flown to another hospital more equipped to deal with his injuries. He was on life support for a little over 24 hours before being declared brain dead.

Before his wife and stepdaughter came home, another neighbor and I took on the horrific job of cleaning up the bathroom, which included ripping up all the carpet and padding, and then scrubbing the floor, the cabinets, etc. That was, for me, the most traumatic part of the entire week, and something that I will never forget.


  1. That indeed would have been traumatic and life changing for many of those involved. It is clearly one more example of your strength and stamina .... I am glad you chose to write about it, The tears must have been so cleansing!

  2. Thanks Dorothy! This time of year is always rough for me, and always involves a great deal of crying, unfortunately.


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