Many people say that bad things happen in bunches but what if those bad things never stop. They just keep happening and the snowball effect takes place. The bad get worse and the good is never in sight.
It has been a series of unfortunate events for my family. If you're not ready for a tear jerker than this story is probably not for you. My name is Michael Rivera and the reason I am writing this piece is to get my family some recognition for all that bad that has been thrust upon them.
I am a 21-year old Journalism and Media Studies major at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. I thought to myself what better way to try to get my family the help it needs than to do what I was taught throughout college, write a story that has an impact. Being at Rutgers I haven't been able to get home as much as I would like to so I could help out. Enough about me however, the real reason I'm writing is for my family.
My family consists of my very loving mother Donna, and my siblings from oldest to youngest: Caitlin, 16; Bobby, 15; Timothy, 14; Justin, 11; and last but not least Benjamin, 6. The nightmare began a couple years ago with my stepfather, Robert New going in and out of the hospital with a heart condition called Cardio Myopathy. Two of his brothers had already passed away from the condition. His condition affected my mom and siblings very much taking a toll mentally as he was never 100%.
A little bit of light was shed on us when we heard that he would be placed on the heart transplant list. Then it was determined that he would not only need a heart transplant but a liver transplant as well. A very serious procedure but my family was optimistic the entire time. The news came that they had found a match and he was at the top of the list. The suffering was over and we could finally be a normal family with nothing to worry about. All came crashing down on Christmas Eve of 2010. My stepdad had been feeling very sick and went back into the hospital with complications from the transplant. An infection spread through his body and he was forced to stay in the hospital. Right when everyone thought it would be ok, my mom woke myself and the kids up on New Year's Day to tell us that their father, my stepfather, didn't make it. The silence in the room was unbearable. The look on my mother's face, on Caitlin, Bobby, Timmy, Justin, and little Benny's face was unbearable. I had to leave the room. To this day it is the worst memory of my mind. On a day where everyone is celebrating the New Year and a new beginning, we were left to grieve. I thought to myself, "oh my goodness, why." Why did God take a father away from such young kids and such a wonderful mother? I cried alone in my room but I tried to be strong for the younger ones. I could tell my mom was doing the same.
My most vivid memory was at the viewing looking at my brother, Bobby's face. It was as if his whole world was in ruin. If you could only see the look on his face. I grabbed him and hugged him tighter than I had hugged anyone every before and told him that it would all be ok. He and I burst into tears and the truth was I didn't know if everything was going to be ok. My mom who had done everything she could possibly do to make my family normal and go about their daily routine was now a widow of six kids. After a couple months my mom lost her job because she was preoccupied trying to get things back to normal. This made things very difficult financially.
One would think that two and a half years later things would be looking up but the truth is, they haven't. My siblings were diagnosed with the same heart condition (Cardio Myopathy) that my stepfather had passed away from. Every day we live in fear. They had to be taken out of athletics which, if you knew my family, athletics was a very strong component of our lives. Caitlin was an amazing goalie on her soccer team and teams around the league knew or heard of the "little red head." Bobby, since he was little was always showing off his baseball pitching wind-up and he too was an above average soccer player. Not only was their dad taken from them, but now something they had dearly enjoyed growing up was being taken away from them too. They can't go on many carnival and amusement rides. On trips, they have to have a certified nurse carry a defibrillator in case anything happens. My youngest brother Benjamin has already had a couple cardiac episodes. Will things ever get better?
My siblings have been affected so much by all of this but it has also affected one of the greatest, if not, the greatest person I know in this world my mom. My mom after losing her husband has been a rock for my family. She talked to me so much about trying to stay strong for her kids even though deep down I knew she was hurting just as much. My house in Bensalem, PA hasn't always been the sturdiest or the most reliable when it comes to things breaking down. You name it washing-machines, dryers, plumbing, roof anything and everything. The thing was, Bob was very handy and he passed down as much as he could to me before he passed. I commuted to school the semester after he died to help out but my grades took a huge hit. I knew that if I was going to help the family the best I can, I would have to help myself first and get a good degree with a well-paying job to really make an impact. This left my mother alone; to fend for herself and her five children and try to fix whatever comes her way. She might be one of the handiest women I know but to keep up with everything that breaks is a lot. She wanted to move and so she began getting the house ready to be put on the market. She thought that moving would help the family get a fresh start and it also made sense financially. The house was just too expensive to keep up with.
Then came Hurricane Irene. Irene left the basement flooded with feet and feet of water ruining a lot of items down there and doing a lot more damage. My mom busted her butt cleaning after Irene to make sure there was no mold in the house because of my sibling's heart conditions. The aftermath of Irene really took a financial toll on my mom especially while she tried to get the house ready to sell. It took over a year to clean up the mess Irene made and even longer to prepare to get the house on the market. Finally a couple months ago my mom decided to put the house on the market thinking it was ready. Things are starting to look up right? Wrong.
While I am I school I get a phone call that the house was broken into and a lot of property was taken. How could someone rob a widow with five kids? It is baffling. At least the house was still on sale and they could get out and move on from all of the devastation that is happening to them. The house sold a couple of weeks ago. From the time the house sold my mom had ten days to get it ready for inspection. A couple of day before the inspection there were a series of storms that led to a ceiling in our back room to collapse. The bad news keeps coming. My mom worked very hard with the help of a family friend and a cousin of mine to fix the ceiling in hopes that it would pass inspection. The ceiling was fixed before the inspection however the house still failed inspection with things my mom did not know about. These things include termites, a faulty sewer pipe, and the chimney coming off the wall and many more. All of these problems with the house are going to cost a lot and my mom is doing everything in her power to fix everything and still try to save enough money to keep living.
My mom is honestly the best mother in the world. My siblings are very smart and very talented. I love them so much more than anyone could possibly begin to think. For all of this to happen to them is a tragedy. When will it all stop? When will they be able to look at life as it was meant to be and enjoy it? I'm asking for help. I'm crying for help because they deserve it. If there is anything anyone can do the smallest of help would mean the world.
Thank you for hearing my story.
This is a story I posted trying to get help in July. I received a lot of compliments about my writing and compassion in my story and thought that maybe some news outlet would latch onto it and maybe get my family the help they need. Since the story which was written five months ago you'd think things would have looked up a little bit. Not to sound like a broken record but it hasn't. Since the story was written in July, multiple buyers walked away from deals for different reasons after inspections of the house. My mom has been taking the little income she's been receiving to fix up the house in hopes that one buyer would be happy and go through with the sale. My sister Caitlin has since been put on medication because she has difficulty climbing steps and exerting herself at the age of 17. My nine year old brother Benjamin had been taken to the hospital for trouble breathing. My mother and doctors are still trying to figure out the best route to take. It's almost the time of year that is supposed to be filled with joy but instead it's a time of struggle, frustration and anguish.
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