"On Monday, Dec 4, my wife, Valerie, came home very tired and complaining of a headache. She had not been herself for awhile – not remembering the names of simple objects and having trouble remembering things in general. Everyone, including us, wrote this off as “pregnancy brain” and continued about our days. She had also been having headaches, however, and on this particular day, she was having a pretty bad one. She had been planning on going to the doctor earlier that day, but, as was her nature, she had decided to wait until she was “caught up,” which, of course, didn't happen during a normal busy day.
She ate a little bit, but then soon after ran to the bathroom and was sick. She decided she would go to the ER and finally figure out why she had been feeling so bad lately. I called her mother to ask her to meet her there while I stayed home and took care of 4 year old Hannah. Later in the night, Nancy called me and said she had a brain tumor and they were sending her to Fort Sanders in Knoxville via ambulance, so I quickly assembled some belongings, waited for Nancy to get here to watch over sleeping Hannah, and sped to the hospital.
We raced to Fort Sanders and were admitted immediately, where they performed some tests and took very good care of her. They couldn't, however, put her through too many tests because of the 35 week old baby she was carrying, so they/we ultimately decided to wait until the following Monday to bring little Jack Henry into the world, then attacking Valerie's tumor. We were going to stay until Monday, but on Tuesday evening, Valerie wanted to go home and see Hannah, and take care of some things around the house before returning.
Friday afternoon, she texted and said she wasn't well at all and wanted to go back as soon as possible. I got home from work, packed our bags and went back to Fort Sanders. There was some confusion on their part about our readmitting, and Valerie, in her typical form, was able to sternly assert that we WOULD be readmitted and would go through whomever she/we needed to in order to make this happen. We were admitted to a room on the Labor & Delivery floor where we were taken care of with the greater compassion and attention.
Valerie and I were able to spend the last weekend enjoying each other's company, watching some Christmas movies and finally resting, because Valerie never wanted to stop and relax until “everything was done,” which it never really is, no matter how feverishly one endeavors to accomplish this.
Monday morning was brutal on Valerie and she had the worst headache she had had thus far. It was painful to watch her suffer through it, but she soldiered on and they eventually took her downstairs where Dr. Roussis (who I cannot say enough wonderful things about) delivered little Jack via C-section.
We waited in our old room until they led us to the new room she had been taken to recover. They brought Jack up and we (myself and Valerie's mother and step-father, Nancy and Scott) held him and loved on him and sat next to Valerie, who was still not up from the anesthesia. Her breathing began to sound strange and Scott ran to the nurse's desk for help. I was wiping her mouth and noticed she had begun to grow a little pale, so I slapped the nurse's button, but they were already just a few seconds away.
There were sirens and alarms and dozens and dozens of people running as hard and as fast as they could into our room. They had taken Jack out of the room immediately when they arrived and took him back to the Nursery. Next came a litany of machines and yet more people racing in to help Valerie. We stood in the hall in shock.
They brought Valerie back and got her vitals stable, but we realized later that she never really came back. They took her downstairs to the ICU and continued to try to do whatever they could for her, but over the next hours and days, we received bits and pieces of news that made our optimism increasingly difficult to maintain, and ultimately we were told the horrible news that she was gone.
She was a loving, caring mother, daughter, wife and friend. She was my very best friend. She always placed others above herself and we realized this yet again when we were reminded that she had opted to be an organ donor and they are working at this very moment to find matches for her organs so that she can save other mommy's lives.
We will never ever forget her or stop loving her and we know she is with us every minute of every day. I heard her in my head as we left the hospital with Jack - “Jon, put your seatbelt on before you get out on the road.” I will always hear her voice and feel her presence next to me, as I imagine many will who had the privilege of being close to her. She will also live on in Hannah James and Jack Henry, who I will raise as and love as dearly as she did.
I love you, Valerie. WE love you Valerie. And we always will."
These funds will be used to help Jon support Hannah and Jack. The family is so grateful for the help. Val's absence will be felt forever, but these funds will hopefully help aleviate some of the stress associated with such a devastating loss. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
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