Friday, April 20, 2007

Glorifying Virginia Tech killer

Ya know the reason Cho sent a media package to NBC is because he wanted air time, infamy, in death. I’m as curious as the next person, but I don’t think we should be glorifying him. What we should be glorifying are the kids he gunned down in cold blood. If he knew his actions would have the media spotlighting the very people he despised would he have done this?? I don’t think so, he knew his face would be the one plastered everywhere, he knew his message would get out. We are rewarding these actions and encouraging this type of behavior as a sure fire way to get your point across. The focus should be on the students he so cowardly murdered. He is becoming a martyr to every kid out there who has been bullied. Whether their fantasies are this extreme or not, they dream of a way to ‘make them pay.’ He wanted to be portrayed as a sacrificial victim, a hero to the underdog. As much as I do not understand this mentality, I do know that he is getting exactly what he wanted. Everyone knows his name, everyone knows his message, everyone has seen his face numerous times, everyone can read his play, his actions are being justified by our society. The satisfaction he must have gotten the 6 days prior, as he was filming and writing what would inevitably over shadow the wonderful lives he cut short, is infuriating. The smile on his face during that week was a pompous smirk; he walked the halls feeling empowered, stronger then ever before. He got what he wanted. If that video was never shown, his atrocities would have been in vain. Instead we rewarded him.
How many of us even know one name of the 33 killed? What they were like? If they had a message for the world? Here are just a few names I found online, along with a little about them…Here’s a great site I found that has all the victims …

.Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20, of Saugus, Mass., according to his mother, Lynnette Alameddine…. Alameddine’s Facebook page shows he wished a friend a happy birthday before heading off to class yesterday. He lists musical interests from Jim Morrison to the Beastie Boys as well as several movies and books.

• Christopher James Bishop, 35, according to Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany, where he helped run an exchange program…… According to his Web site, Bishop spent four years living in Germany, where he "spent most of his time learning the language, teaching English, drinking large quantities of wheat beer, and wooing a certain fraulein."
The "fraulein" was Bishop's wife, Stephanie Hofer, who also teaches in Virginia Tech's German program.
• Ryan Clark, 22, of Martinez, Ga., biology and English major, according to Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins…., Bryan Clark on Tuesday described his twin as someone who could do "anything he put his mind to doing." He said their mother raised them to "not discount or say you can't do something until you've tried it."
That's why it wasn't surprising that Ryan had three majors, played in the band and planned on going into neurosurgery when he graduated, Bryan Clark said.
• Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, A French instructor from Truro, Nova Scotia, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak moved 8 years ago to Virginia Tech, where her husband, Jerzy Nowak, teaches horticulture. She had worked passionately to spread the French language, and was described as vibrant, enthusiastic and dynamic by the vice president of administration, Bernie MacDonald, at Nova Scotia Agricultural College, where she taught French.

• Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, killed in his French class, according to his mother, Betty Cueva, of Peru…. (JP-wb) — The mother of 21-year-old Daniel Pérez Cueva, a Peruvian student killed in yesterday’s shooting massacre at Virginia Tech, was an outstanding sportsman who excelled in swimming, his mother Betty Cueva said. He was a member of Peru’s National Swimming Federation.

• Kevin Granata, age unknown, engineering science and mechanics professor, according to Ishwar K. Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department…He leaves behind his parents, a brother, two sisters, his wife and three children, Alex, 13, Eric, 12, and Ellen, 11. Kevin Granata earned his master's degree in physics from Purdue in 1986 and built a resume that made him a nationally known name in biomechanical engineering, working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy. His school Web site says he published 67 works through 2005 and worked at Johns Hopkins University, Ohio State, the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University.

• Caitlin Hammaren, 19, of Westtown, N.Y., a sophomore majoring in international studies and French, according to Minisink Valley, N.Y., school officials who spoke with Hammaren's family. Caitlin Hammaren rode a horse named Poet and once dreamed of being an equestrian chiropractor.She was president of her high school chorus, one of the top students at Minisink Valley High School, “a beautiful, sparkling” girl with an infectious smile, according to some of the people who knew her best.At Virginia Tech, she became a resident assistant and “mother hen” to her dorm mates.
• Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, of Bellefonte, Pa., according to Penn State University, his alma mater and his father's employer…. Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, of Bellefonte, Pa., received several academic scholarships and earned two undergraduate degrees from Pennsylvania State University before enrolling at Virginia Tech last fall as a graduate student, according to a Penn State spokesman. Family friends said the tall, lanky young man was a devout Catholic, a cross-country runner and a civil engineering student who wanted to pursue an environmental career.
• Emily Jane Hilscher, a 19-year-old freshman from Woodville, according to Rappahannock County Administrator John W. McCarthy, a family friend…. She came to Virginia Tech from rural Rappahannock County and was majoring in animal and poultry sciences.

• Jarrett L. Lane, according to Riffe's Funeral Service Inc. in Narrows, Va… The University of Florida wanted Jarrett Lane in its graduate school of coastal engineering and had even thrown in financial aid.
The relieved senior sent an instant message to his friend Amanda Bishop, and they made plans to drive down to Gainesville after he graduated in May so he could look for an apartment.
• Mary Karen Read, 19, of Annandale, Va. according to her aunt, Karen Kuppinger, of Rochester, N.Y. Ms. Berrios said Ms. Read played clarinet and wanted to become an elementary school teacher. She also loved baking. "I loved it when she baked cookies because they were heavenly," Ms. Berrios said.
Caitlin Hammaren, 19, of Westtown, N.Y., was a sophomore majoring in international studies and French, according to officials at her former school district. "She was just one of the most outstanding young individuals that I've had the privilege of working with in my 31 years as an educator," said John P. Latini, principal of Minisink Valley High School, where she graduated in 2005. "Caitlin was a leader among our students."
Daniel Perez Cueva, 21,.. "Anything he put his mind to, he accomplished it," said Hugo Quintero, a close friend and former classmate at C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Va. "He's a guy who not only dreams, but makes dreams come true."

…..I am not saying I didn’t watch every bit that I could about this deranged kid, I read his play, I looked at the pictures…I want to know what kind of monster could do this too. I want to understand his warped mind, for no other reason then to shake my head in disbelief at. I’m not proud of my morbid curiosity; I’m part of the problem as well. So, I decided to try and get to know the people he murdered, to put the focus where it should be, the killer should not be the center of our attention.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cancer Sucks...the end. #14

Robert (Rughead)
11-20-50 2-2-07
My Dad passed away at 6:26am on 2-2-07. It’s been five months. The doctors were right on from the start. It went like clock work. He was diagnosed on August 21st. Not feeling well, but as a whole, looked like the man I knew all my life, such a difference from the person who lay in this house just two days ago. I came to Colorado on the 19th of January. I planned to spend a couple of weeks, to visit. I thought I’d travel back and forth for awhile…till the time came.
No matter what the doctors said, deep down I didn’t believe this disease would claim him so quick. I said the words, I mulled them over, I drilled them into my head, I cried over them, I thought I had accepted them, but his passing has shown me that I didn’t believe them. I’m in shock. I’m numb. He was here just days ago, talking, laughing. Over a forty-eight hour period he visibly weakened. The hospital bed that took up the living room became his everything. He told me to be strong, right after he told me he was scared. I told him I was to. He held my hand; a tear slid down his cheek and with eyes that could see your soul, he asked me to stay by his side till the end. He said our relationship was so much more then father/daughter, I was his closest friend through this. “If you’re here I’ll be o-kay.” I said I would and I did.
The last week of his life was filled with many emotions. My family, his siblings, which were never a constant in our life came to say goodbye. With mixed emotions I kept my mouth shut. Inside I was angry that my daddy was the reason for their sudden devotion, their regrets, and their empty pledge to keep in contact. Resentfully I watched them whisper their last words to my father.
As the end approached I watched as his body turned black and blue, the oxygen abandoning his limbs in a useless attempt to save the vital organs. At night he cried out in pain as his feet slowly died. We added more morphine to his plethora of pain meds, and this seemed to help, unless he was just too high to tell us it wasn’t. He whispered, “I love you, Kee” (from childhood he was Daa and I was Kee) the day before he died. Each of us, my brother, my step mother and myself told him it was o-kay to go. In our own way we did our best to comfort his body, mind and soul. We lied and told him we were alright, to relax and go to sleep, stop struggling and fighting.
I will never see him again. I can’t call him on the phone. That is very strange to me and this fact has not really gotten its grip on me yet. I am going through the motions, and as long as I’m busy I don’t have to feel the reality of his absence. My world is completely different, there’s a hollow feel to it, an emptiness in my heart that makes me so fucking angry. I rock back and forth trying to shake this feeling, this weight that lays on my soul, but it stays. I can’t cry enough; I can’t scream enough, I can’t find anything to ease this pain. I can’t grasp this. It’s all so wrong. My daddy….he’s gone.
And where did he go? Is he ok?Heaven and hell, are they real? I am not a religious person. I do believe that there’s a God or Goddess, a higher power out there, but heaven and hell? A place for the good and the bad? I don’t believe that. Whatever Being created us would not create us so differently, so diverse, and with free will just to punish us for not following one strict path. This Being, all powerful, just, and righteous does not make mistakes right? I could go on, but my point, as simply as possible, is just that if there is a God, in the Christian sense of the word, he/she (or both) knew what she/he was doing. Whether we actually have freewill or we are pre-destined to be who we are, it’s not a mistake, and to be punished when it’s all over is the same as saying that that power made a mistake in our creation…and if that’s the case this power is guilty as well.
Also, I don’t know that I believe our loved ones watch over us after they die. This is a little selfish to me, to think that there is nothing left but to sit and watch someone. It gives people comfort to think they have not really left us. Self serving and not at all realistic in my eyes.
Then there’s the idea that those who pass are reunited with loved ones who have passed before them, this is also hard for me to believe. It’s a nice, comfortable thought, but wouldn’t heaven be pretty crowded by now? And as much as we love the people that have gone before us, would it really be ‘heaven’ to spend eternity with them? What would we do? You can only roam around on soft fluffy clouds for so long.
Reincarnation is another theory, which I can’t fully wrap my head around. I guess it could happen…like a ‘do over’ in the bigger scheme of things. If you don’t learn all you need to ‘go on’ you come back to try again, each time advancing. Like maybe Gandhi was an old soul.
Or maybe we just go to sleep and that’s it. That’s not very comforting, and seems too simple for this complicated existence.
All of these thoughts are abbreviated of course and when I lay down to go to sleep there are plenty more ‘what if’s’. I don’t think I have ever put so much thought into what happens after you die. I’m just worried about him. Not because I think he’s burning, or stuck in-between places, just because it’s the unknown. Dieing is like a trip to an unfamiliar place you’ve never been to, and in this world of choices you have no choice but to go, you don’t know what the ‘ride’ will be like, nobody can come with you, and you can’t call home when you get there. Pretty scary to me.
I have no regrets through this process. I’m happy with the time I spent with him and the talks we had. I was able to say all the things I needed to and to ask the questions I needed the answers to. I know his favorite season was Fall, and his favorite place was Red Rocks. I was able to ease his mind in regards to some things pertaining to how I was raised. He thanked me for that. We talked for hours about everything and nothing; some people never get that chance. I’m grateful for every minute, and I will miss him to no end. Some say, with time my pain will ease….I don’t believe this either…I think with time you grow used to the pain, you grow accustom to it, you build a tolerance and it doesn’t seem as severe, but its still there.
I love you, my Daa, my daddy, my father, my friend.
I'll light a candle for you everynight.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's a brand new year 13

So it’s New Years Eve, 11:54pm. I’m watching some really stupid movie, not even worth mentioning. I’ve been thinking about my dad and the times we spent driving in the mountains. I thought I’d post a few pictures.

I’ve got a plan to go visit. The 19th of January I’m heading out, I’ll be there for 10 to 12 days give or take. I’m so excited to get back. I'd seriously like to blow Kansas off the map, nothing personal; it would just be allot easier to get to Colorado without that pesky state in the way.
It’s really hard for me to be here, especially when he feels like crap. I feel vulnerable in a strange way, like any minute someone is going to pull a plug and everything is going to go spinning uncontrollably. I talk to him every other day or so and on the days when he’s beaten, hacking, and sick I feel at odds with everything, so open, exposed, like my personal space has been invaded. I walk around in a cloud, or rather under one. On those days it’s the end, nothing else, just the end, the decline, and that it.

On the other hand, when he’s feeling good, it’s like everything is pretty normal. I can go about my day for the most part carefree. On days like that it seems as if the sick dreadful days were just a flash in the bigger scheme of things. As if it were silly to even have worried.
Come to think about it, no matter what kind of day it is, yesterday feels so far away. Just a kind of memory that the new day over shadows. Anyway, he’s feeling fairly well lately. I can’t wait to see him and take another drive!

Monday, December 11, 2006

More from the rollercoaster. (12)

It’s been awhile since my last post. It seems I’m more apt to write when things aren’t so great. I’m back in St. Louis now, have been for a little over a month. My dad didn’t need me anymore!! Over the last few weeks I was there, he gained a lot of strength, he wasn’t on the oxygen as much, and he began to do things for himself. Of course neither of us really wanted me to leave, but to stay longer would have been a vacation that I couldn’t afford. Things had gotten as back to normal as they were going to get to. The death that seemed to loom over his head dissipated, seemingly avoided for the moment, and the tragedy, a painful fog of a memory. As he regained his strength he jumped right back into his failing business and mounting bills, stress and frustration filled every room, every hour of every day. No matter how many times he was told to slow down and take it easy, he would only do it if physically he could do no more. Then he’d collapse into his chair, pop a couple pills and sleep till the next days disaster began. I have to admit it got to me. I’m not sure if their life is always chaotic or if the majority of it was a result of what we were going through. I didn’t grow up in an angry, frustrated household, and the home I share with my husband isn’t like that so I was on edge all the time. I found myself waiting, holding my breath, longing for a good day. I was also very confused, I’m not in his shoes, but I would think a person would be damn grateful to be alive. After receiving good news from the doctor about the tumor shrinking and his exceptional reaction to the Chemo, I felt he’d been handed another chance. Even if only for a year or two. So, his attitude was surprisingly ungrateful to me. In a fit of frustration, he let slip, that we’d be better off without him. That felt like a punch. He came to me later and told me how much he regretted the words, that he didn’t feel that way and that until all of this came about he did think we would be better off, he knew better now. It felt good to hear him say that, but his actions didn’t reflect it. It’s like he completely forgot what he’d just gone through. The tears, the begging, the desperation one feels when they’ve been told they are going to die. The fucking dreadful moaning and scary nighttime rush of ICU nurses to his room. All forgotten, drowned in a ‘why me attitude’. As much as I wanted to be there, share in the “good health” he was ‘enjoying’ I was loosing my mind. It made me sad and a part of me wanted to get out before THIS is what I remembered.
As far as he was concerned he HAD to do everything, he had no choice. No more drives to the mountains, no more happy moments to save for when this was all over. Stress prevailed and because he was able to do for himself I came back home. I miss him. I miss him so much it hurts.
I think he’s slowed down though, accepted the fact that he can not be who he was before all of this happened. It hurts his ego and his pride, but he’s rational for the most part. He got pretty sick after I left and had to go back into the hospital, I think that jarred him some.
When I first got home everything seemed abnormal, off kilter. I felt out of place, if not in the wrong place. I was ‘in-between’ for a few weeks. Struggling with guilt for being home and guilt for leaving home in the first place. Then slowly things came full circle, my home was my home again, my job was something I looked forward to again. People stopped asking about my dad as soon as they seen me. They still ask, but I don’t think they really want to know, it’s just polite. Like when someone say’s “Hi, How ya?”, they don’t really expect you to go into detail. It’s o-kay though, I lie and say he’s good and we move on to a less depressing topic.
For the past month I’ve felt pretty good about a lot of things. He seemed to be doing well and I felt my being home was o-kay. I’m planning on driving back in a month or so to visit. I got so close to my brother while I was there it doesn’t seem right that I haven’t seen him in this long. He’s going into the police academy in January; he’ll make a good cop. Not cocky, down to earth, nothing to prove to anyone. Dad and Patty are talking about moving here, which would set my soul at ease and excite me to no end. It seems like we’re all optimistic, planning things, looking forward to the coming days. Dads pretty chipper and motivated. He has something to look forward to and more importantly something to DO! He’s not good at sitting idle and he gets physically over exerted easily, so planning helps him focus on something, it keeps him sane.
All things have to come to and end though. Good or bad, they don’t last forever.
Three days ago I spoke to his doctor. They’ve started Chemo again. He has spots on his liver. He said he was sorry. He actually said sorry to me! I think my heart went numb. I am so tired of this shit. I’m worn out. He’s got six months if he doesn’t respond to treatment, maybe a year if he does. There’s a good chance it could spread to his bone or his brain. I just feel beat up, emotionally undone. Every day there’s this recurring wave of ache that gathers in my stomach, reaches up through my chest and finds it’s way into my head. My face gets hot, my eyes well up, and it pushes hard against the back of my head. Then as quickly as it came, I choke in a gasp of air, and it’s gone. I’m left with a headache and tears that won’t fall. I feel like all the laughter in the world is fake; a cruel joke. I feel guilty laughing sometimes. He was never getting better, it was just a joke. I still can’t imagine what life will be like without him. I say the words, I know he’s dieing, but the truth of it doesn’t exist. Now, I wish I was there. How he must be feeling, I can’t stand the thought. I want to go for a drive with him, take both of our minds off this horribly intimidating, unavoidable journey. What it must feel like, waiting to die? Where do you go? What happens? The utter isolation of it; no matter how many loved ones are around you, you are alone. There’s no changing your mind, no ‘do overs’. In this world of choices, it’s hard to accept.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

crazy but amusing...Cancer #11

Dad has been acting strangely since he came home from the hospital. I’m not sure if it’s the medication or the tumor. Delirious is a better description. He’s been having conversations with’s hard to explain. It used to be isolated to his restless nights or day time naps. He’d toss and turn, mumble something, and occasionally he’d spit out a complete sentence. Lately though he’s taken to weird out bursts while he’s presumably awake. For example; the other day, at about 9am, while on our way to treatment, he did it. He’d been up for about an hour, had breakfast, coffee, etc… He’s tired but not asleep. Sitting in the passenger seat after about ten minutes he suddenly blurts out, “Well, I thought that’s what he said, and why wouldn’t he?” A little startled but, unfazed I wait for more. . This isn’t the first time he’s done this, lately I’ve begun trying to engage him in more conversation...and why not, it’s harmless fun! So I softly ask, “What?”, and cringe slightly expecting him to say “What, what?” and spoil the fun for me. When he first started doing this I was at a loss for what to do. Should I call him on it, wake him up, or just sit and act like it was nothing? Well my bewilderment passed and, I’m curious… plus it is a little amusing in a twisted sort of way. Anyway this time, seemingly surprised by what just came out of his mouth, he glances over at me and matter-of-factly says, “We weren’t just taking were we?” Clearly he thought we were. I told him no, and decided to ask a few questions. “Who were you talking to?”, “I don’t know, it was just a piece of a conversation before I came to.” “So, you were sleeping?” “Sort of, it feels weird. One minute I’m talking to someone and then next thing I know I’m waking myself. Until recently, I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it or if I were actually speaking out loud”. I believe it’s the medication and the fact that he hasn’t gotten into REM sleep in a long while. A body needs that you know. I shouldn’t make fun though; it is pretty unnerving for him sometimes. He seems to be aware of it for the most part, and it only happens when he’s tired or fresh out of sleep. I’m not really worried; we’ll just talk to the doctor about it. It is strange though and can be a little embarrassing. In his first day of chemo he fell asleep quickly and began talking and ‘eating’, grasping at imaginary food. Every once and a while he’d catch himself, wake up all groggy eyed and look around the room to see if any one was looking. Yea, lucky for me, a room full of strangers with not much else to do but watch the crazy bearded guy try to eat the pillow in his lap and converse with himself! At least he’s light hearted about the whole thing; he gave me permission to wake him if he starts to make a fool of himself. Thing is, it only takes a second for him to begin a discussion. His eyes droop, his lips part, and he’s off. So I decided he needed his rest and I needed some fresh air...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

daily trip...Cancer #10

So it’s about 20 miles to the hospital, approximately 30 minutes.
Five days a week. It seems each morning is a different trip.
Yesterday, music was the background distraction.
In the foreground was the truth to the task.
It’s hard to stay ‘here’, not to wander.
The thoughts that weigh heavy on my spirit are better left inside...
for the moment. At least easier. Today, it was silence, and rage at
the people in the rearview mirror going about their day
without a care. Maybe it was jealousy.
Whatever, it was uncomfortable.
So, I quietly laid my hand on his leg and cried, unnoticed.
For the inevitable is unavoidable and punishing to my core.

Monday, October 16, 2006

chemical party...Cancer #9

Dad’s on a different, more aggressive chemo treatment. Apparently the one they’ve replaced was sort of typical. When this all started his condition demanded a fast course of action so, there wasn’t much time to personalize the plan. He has radiation 5 days a week as well as 5 chemo treatments. Then a 3 week break, than back on again. Well he’s had the radiation from the start…he actually glows a little a night.
Anyway, the chemo has been kicked up a few notches. Four of the five sessions last about 2 hours, give or take, and one lasts 6 hours. This chemical, Cisplatin, is pretty abrasive on the kidneys and stomach. They give an insane amount of fluids, including anti-nausea medication, to flush the kidneys and coat the stomach. It’s more abrasive but, they’ve had good results using this plan on his type of cancer. The doc said, “He’s a young, strong, and healthy guy, besides the uninvited beast that’s taken residence in his chest, and so far he’s tolerated the treatments really well” Ok, so he didn’t say EXACTLY that I may have added a little color to it. The idea is the same though. Anyway, we went in for his 1st out-patient chemo treatment yesterday. As new as all of this is, I was not ready for the chemical party room. Ten cream colored recliners wrapped around a small oval room. The farthest points couldn’t have been twenty four feet. I’m really bad at judging distance so if that’s far I’m not giving you the right idea! I could take fifteen to twenty regular steps from one end to the other. There are a few chairs filled with different types of people, in many different stages of this disease. Like the couple at the far end. If I had to guess I’d say they were in their late twenties. He’s the patient, wearing grey plaid jammy’s, slippers, and a grey shirt. Holding his hand is a pretty, dark haired woman, wearing jeans and a sweater. They have earphones on that are connected to a portable DVD player. They look very comfortable and content, smiling every now and then, I assume at the movie they are watching. He doesn’t look any sicker then me. I wonder if they were as taken with this room as I am the first time they stepped in.
Two chairs up is a woman that I had mistaken for a man. She is so tiny and frail looking. She’s wearing a light blue stocking cap, jeans, and a sweat shirt. She has no hair left, no brows and nothing peeking from under the cap. Next to her is a much healthier woman, they haven’t said a word to each other. They are very docile and sullen, so different from the first couple.
Next to them sits a woman in her mid to late twenties. Unlike everyone else she hasn’t made eye contact with me, no nod of hello, or half cocked knowing smile. You can see that the sickness just beginning to dig its claws into her, the color in her cheeks still hanging on. She’s wearing a smart looking head wrap, sweats, cute shoes and a blanket. She’s a very pretty woman. From just looking at her, I imagine she’s a very strong person, resolute in successfully kicking this diseases ass. She gives an air of confidence in the simplest of actions, the way she smiles at the nurse who hooks her up to what I’ve coined the poison dispenser, or the way she maneuvers the machine when she steps out of the room. She makes me wish I knew her, there’s depth to her eyes, a certain intensity that makes me wonder what she’s like outside of this room. If I get the chance maybe I’ll introduce myself as the daughter of the lung cancer guy. If seems the people who strike up conversation do so by asking what kind of cancer your there for. Seems fitting but, no less strange to me, I guess it goes right along with this whole experience. This room and everyone in it seem surreal. The sun filtering in from the sky light, as bright and airy as it is, does little to lift the gloomy character of the atmosphere. As I sit next to my dad in the corner of the room, I realize that we are just as foreign and unique to everyone else, yet we’re all connected. My heart aches for everyone here, and their families at home. We are all going through our own personal chaos.