Friday, September 28, 2012

The Day that Turned My Life Upside Down

It has been a long time since I last posted in my blog. That is because 12 days ago on  Saturday, September 15th a horrific tragedy struck my family. I was in New Jersey visiting my family. I joined my parents for Sabbath services and while walking to the house of dear family friends for lunch, a driver lost control of her car, went up on the curb and hit my parents, our friends and myself. Me and our two friends were badly hurt and my parents were killed.

My Parents
We left the synagogue after services and started walking with a large group of friends towards our friend's house. I was actually walking a bit ahead of everyone and my mom sped up to catch up with me. Me and my mom were just chatting about nothing particular as the large group followed behind.

When we reached the first corner me and my mom stopped and let the group catch up. As the reached the corner I could see that everyone was standing around my dad and they were hanging on his every word. My dad had an amazing, out going personality and he was often the center of attention because people loved to hear him speak. One of our friends said to me, "can you tell your father to move faster? I'm hungry and I want to get home." I smiled and replied, "you cannot bother my father while he is holding court." My mom was tired of waiting as well and continued to walk and called for me to follow. 

While walking the next block, me and my mom spoke about her really cool new shoes for a bit and one of the friends followed closely behind. Behind him was my dad, the other friend and the group that was slowly shrinking as people turned down different directions towards their homes. I loved talking with my mom. We could talk about anything for hours. No matter what we talked about, whether it be shoes or life decisions, my mom was fully invested in the conversation. For her, the subject wasn't necessarily as important as the participants. She didn't care what me and her were speaking about, she just loved every moment we spent together.

There was a short lull in the conversation and my mom started talking with her friend. I thought to myself how much fun me and my parents were having during my visit and how thankful I was that we had gotten past all of our issues. I knew how hard it was for my parents to accept me as not religious and gay, yet they loved me so much that our relationship had been saved and was as strong as ever. 

My father and the friend walking with him must have sped up, because we all reached the corner together. The five of us crossed the street together. When we reached the next corner, we started talking about an abandoned building on the corner. Me and my parents friends were a bit ahead of my parents who were now walking together, slightly behind us. My father started to talk and I looked back at him and saw him pointing at something on the building. I looked forward to see what my father was pointing at when suddenly I felt the most horrid pain. The pain was so strong, the only thought that went through my head was that I was being killed - that I was dead.

Next think I knew, I was on my back, looking up at the sky in horrible pain.I was not sure if I was dreaming or awake. I tried to move but couldn't. I started to scream out for help and because of the pain and people arrived on the scene. Because I was the only conscious victim, everyone ignored me at first and went to help the others. Eventually, EMTs (medics) arrived and started to help me. The one holding my head said "sir, you have been hit by a car." I was shocked. How did a car hit us? We were on the sidewalk. I noticed one of my parents friends next to me on the ground being treated as he screamed out for his wife.

I kept screaming and asking if my parents were OK, but they just kept telling me that they were there to help me. The fire department came and cut some wire that had fallen from a pole and landed on me. I was the last one taken away from the scene.
I was brought to the ER with my elbow broken into pieces and open, along with a broken ankle. I was told I would need multiple surgeries and that the first one was an emergency that could not wait. And after hours of asking every nurse and doctor that I saw about my parents, I was told that neither of them had survived.

And just like that, in a single moment, my world was shattered. My parents were wonderful people and amazing, loving parents and they had been taken from me and my sister. My two sets of grandparents each lost a child. Family and friends lost two people that they loved and cared for dearly.

After 3 surgeries, I am now in rehab. And even though I am in horrible pain and face a long road to recovery, I'm grateful that I was with my parents until the last moment of their lives. And even though it is very scary, I am thankful that I remember pretty much everything. I will forever remember being with my amazing parents until the last seconds of their lives. I would not trade that for anything.
I love and miss them more than words can express.

27 comments:

  1. Ami, you are so brave for writing this. Thank you for sharing the wonderful moments before your horrible tragedy. Your parents memory will always be a blessing.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. It means a lot to me.

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  2. I am very sorry for your loss, I cannot imagine the pain and loss you must be feeling.

    My heart goes out to you.

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  3. Your post has me in tears. I continue to hope and pray for your recovery. In the midst of the insane tragedy, I'm glad that you can at least find some comfort in the fact that you were with them until the end, and that your last living memories of them were so positive. There was a love there that doesn't die. May their memories be a blessing.

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  4. (((Ami))). Thinking of you. I've typed and deleted a million times . . .just can't find the right words to say how sorry I am that this happened to you and your family and friends.

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    1. Thank you CL. You are a sweet person and good friend.

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  5. i saw the news story of what happened on youtube and had no idea that this was your family, i'm saddened to hear the news and wish you only the best.
    when you feel up for watching it, here is the news clip about that perilous day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR68IgHygYs

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  6. Hello. You do not know me, but I am Jessica Neham's mom. I am so sorry for your experience and loss. I live in Manhattan and would be happy to pay you a visit if you need anything or just want some company. Wishing you healing in every way. Jackie

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    1. Thank you. I don't need anything but visitors are always welcome. But it's a bit of a trip for you so no need to worry. I appreciate the offer.
      Thank you again

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  7. SO sorry for your loss. I am a Lubavitcher living in Riverdale with my partner of 8 years, if you ever need anything, please contact me.

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  8. So very sorry. I have been reading your blog for a while and have always admired your relationship with your parents. Thank you for sharing your memories of their last moments.

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    1. Thank you for reading my blog. I am touched

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  9. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I wish you only the best in your recovery from your injuries and the loss of your parents. I have commented before that I find your blog inspirational.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. I am glad I can count you among my readers.

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  10. Ami,

    It's been a long time since we've spoken, but I wanted to reach out and send my condolences. When I heard about this awful tragedy, it immediately brought me back to our childhood. I have so many fond memories of hanging out at each others houses, watching football, playing roller hockey, and sharing Shabbat meals together. In those many years, I interacted with your parents hundreds of times and I can never forget their kind and loving demeanor. My parents, who were able to make it to the funeral, described that 'All of East Brunswick was there along with half of Philadelphia.' It is clear that your parents were greatly loved and respected by the community at large. I've actually been reading your blog for the last couple of months so I know about the struggles that you and your parents had as they adjusted to your lifestyle. However, as you indicated in your most recent post, I'm so glad that before the end, they found acceptance for the changes in your life and proved that their love for you was unconditional, as all parents love is for their children. I cannot imagine how these last couple of weeks have been, but as you grieve and heal both emotionally and physically from this experience, try to focus on the positive memories and know that much love, thoughts, and prayer is being sent your way. Please send my love and condolences along to Netanya as well.

    May you be comforted among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem,

    Rafi Edelman

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    1. Rafi,
      It has been many years. Thank you for the kind words and sharing your memory of my parents. I'm glad to hear your patents made it to the memorial.
      I'm also glad you read my blog. I hope the next time we communicate, it won't be because of a horrible tragedy.
      Ami

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  11. I just discovered your blog. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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    1. thank you and I hope you will keep reading.

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  12. Your parents were 2 of the most incredible people I've ever met. I always thought my no one could top how much of their life and soul my parents gave to the East Brunswick community. Well, your parents certainly gave them a run for the money. There's not a moment I remember in any of the conversations I've had with your parents in which a huge smile didn't appear on your father's face. Israel, you, and Netanya, always came up. They were incredibly warm, loving, and friendly. I know how much they did for my whole family after my mother suddenly passed away.
    I'm still in tears reading this. I'm so I don't even know what word about what happened, and note that atheist or not, you and your whole family are always in my prayers.
    Your parents lives may have been cut short, but they forever live on in each of the thousands of lives they've touched, in East Brunswick, Philly, and Israel.

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    1. That hank you for the kind comment and thoughts

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