Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July-In Memory of John

The 4th of July had always been a huge family reunion of sorts. All of us kids would take our vacation at the same time, my family and my sister Stacy's family, would go to Utah to be with our parents, brother's and sisters. We would have so much fun, going to the park for all the festivities (Utah is known for their HUGE celebration), then at night we would all go to The Stadium of Fire (BYU Stadium, Miley Cyrus is performing this year...BIG event). That all changed 16 years ago.

I had just flown in with my son Josh who was 3 years old at the time and I was 6 months pregnant with Jullien. My mom picked us up at the airport. We were laughing and talking about all the plans, and festivities we were going to attend. The airport was about an hour away from my parents house in Provo. Mom told me that my brother John had decided to leave the night before to go visit my dad who was camping in Wyoming (my parents are divorced and both remarried, my dad lives in Reno, NV. and we don't get to see him much).

My mom tried to talk my brother out of going because it was late and she wanted to make sure he was there when we got in. John was a very crazy, full of life, live on the edge kind of kid. He was 21 and loved to go dancing. He planned on going to the club and then continue on from there to camp with my dad. He took one of his friends with him too. Well before he left he came up and hugged my mom and said something really out of character, "Mom, if anything happens, I want you to know that I love you." John never talked like this! He never worried about tomorrow.

John and his friend went dancing, and then headed out for the drive to Wyoming. Somehow, they missed the turn and kept traveling down a long, dark, stretch of highway. John fell asleep at the wheel, headed off the side of the road, woke up and over corrected the truck. Both boys were thrown from the car. His friend died at the scene. My brother was air lifted to the University of Utah Hospital. Had my brother not made the wrong turn, he would have been at my dad's campsite hours before the accident.

As me and my mom pulled into the driveway, laughing and joking, enjoying our time together, my step dad immediately opened the door that led into the garage. I remember he had a very strange look on his face. He told her to come into the house...she knew something was terribly wrong too. I will never forget, as long as I live, my mothers heart wrenching, agonizing scream, and running in to see my mother curled up on the floor in a fetal position crying.

We had only been told that he was in a serious accident and we needed to get to the hospital that was an hour away. My brother was in a coma for a week, it was strange because he looked perfect, even the scratches on his face were healing...but his brain was swelling. We had spent every second at the hospital, my mom wanted us to take a break and go to The Stadium of Fire show that we all had tickets for. None of us wanted to leave, but my mom said, "You know John would want you all to go." So we all sat there unable to enjoy the normal, excitement, thinking, praying and hoping for a miracle.

As the grand finale was lighting up the sky with amazing red, white, blue, gold and silver colors, I felt a heaviness and somehow knew that my brother was gone. We returned to the hospital, it was confirmed, my brother no longer had brain waves.

It was so like my brother...to leave this world with a huge celebration. He was so loud, fun, crazy, caring and loving...he was larger than life, cramming a full life into 21 short years. On July 5th my family made the decision to pull the plug. We donated his corneas, heart and kidneys to other people who needed his life saving gift...John would have wanted that.

Happy 4th of July! We continue to celebrate this holiday in your honor. We love and miss you Johnny and can't wait to see you again!

17 comments:

SoccerMom said...

Although it is not a celebration here in Canada, I wish you and yours an amazing day.

Lisa, what a touching and sad story. It makes me smile thinking of you all watching the fireworks tonight and knowing that the brightest one will be your brother! He'll be letting you know he loves you and that he is in a safe place waiting for the day you are called home to see him again.

~Trish~ said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that story with us. I too lost a brother. I was 10, he was 17. Like you, I remember the whole event vividly and can recall almost the whole 24 hr period. Hope you have a fabulous celebration tonight :)

Rph Mommy said...

So, so sorry for your loss. I hope your family has a wonderful holiday.

Heather said...

OH, I'm so sorry. He sounds like such an amazing guy and I know your whole family misses him so much. I'm sure the Fourth is mixed with the sadness of losing him and the joy of celebrating his life.

Feathering My Nest said...

This is such a sad story. I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. I am glad you shared this with us. I liked what Heather said about it being a sad memory to your family, but yet celebrating your brother's life. Bless you sweetie, and thanks for stopping by. Kathi

Tj and Amy said...

We love and miss you john!!! I hope you guys had a good 4th! love you.

April said...

Thanks for the tribute to John! I love and miss him so much! I think this was an especially hard 4th with none of the family coming up from California. I hope everyone can make it next year. That tradition is the best! Love you!

Lane Boyz Mom said...

I'm soo sorry for the loss of your brother, it sounded it like he lived life to the fullest and got the most out of his short time here on earth!

Thanks for sharing *him* with us!

LisaPetrarcaBlog said...

Thank you all so much for your comments! He was such a crazy, exciting, sometimes annoying little brother...But I LOVE and MISS HIM very much!

Amie Steele said...

Very touching story Lisa! Thanks for sharing~

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

I can't imagine going through that kind of pain. What a sweet story though...

Heather said...

Just popping over from SITS (where you're a fellow Saucy Blog this week) and read this post. What a touching, lovely tribute to your brother. It choked me up to read it.

LisaPetrarcaBlog said...

Thank you SO much Heather...I am honored!

Anonymous said...

I can only say that you made me cry at your recollection of that year.
I was at Chuck E Cheese with Janae & Jason when Jay showed up and told me to go home & pack. We need to be sure we make a point of going to Utah every year~this is the first year we haven't gone, and I know it really took a toll on Mom.

Live.Love.Eat said...

Oh my, I am SO sorry to hear this. I can't imagine losing one of my sisters. I started at the beginning of your blog to "catch up" on all that is you. I am really sorry!!!!!!!!!!!

Lucy said...

My heart aches for you. My son was born on July 18, 1950 and died of complications of Multiple Sclerosis. He died Dec. 21,1992. You never stop missing them but as time passes I accept more and more that he is gone but never forgotten. So my sympathies go out to you.

Leesa said...

Dear Lis--

What a sad story about the loss of your beloved brother. I know how hard it is to lose a loved one, but to lose someone so young and before their time... and also in a very tragic way-- well, I cannot imagine the grief you and your family went through and the loss you are still feeling now, after the years that have passed. I'm so sorry for your loss... I know that time seems to be the only thing that helps to 'ease the pain' of the loss, but that we never forget and never really-- lose that empty feeling, that void we have in our lives without them in it..
I still feel this way after the loss of my mom (as you know) and the only thing that really helps is to think of all the good times and all the memories we have of our loved ones... But, aside from that- missing them and them not being here is the most difficult thing of all... My thoughts are with you... and will be now on every 4th of July, as you think about your brother and celebrate his beautiful life.

Peace and love,
Leesa