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October 7, 2011

The Riddle

I sent Danny away to college in Massachusetts this past August. It was a painful, bittersweet milestone; one that I rationally accepted as inevitable, yet emotionally had difficulty accepting without my partner in raising him for this moment. I created several video slideshows for Danny. Here’s one in honor of Danny and his relationship with Pat. The beginning questions were written by Danny at age 14 and read in a full courtroom in front of Shane McGee, his father’s killer:
July 11, 2010

Facing An Empty Dawn

These are the words to a speech I gave at the First Unitarian Church in South Bend.  My sister Julie also videotaped the speech, and it can be found on YouTube in 3 parts. My children and I were dealt a major, devastating blow to our lives on July 16, 2008—a blow that has and will continue to cataclysmically change who we are and ever will be.  On that early morning, at dawn actually, the man I had vowed to love all the days of my life, the loving and attentive father of my 4 children was riding his bicycle […]
July 11, 2010

I Need Your Love

Here is a video I created several months ago–still pictures put to U2’s version of “Unchained Melody”.  This song was the music that was put to our official wedding video.
July 11, 2010

Happy Father’s Day

Oh, Papa.  What has happened since you’ve died! Sigh. It’s hard to say.  You died. Okay.  Well, a lot has happened. I turned 8, I turned 9, and my tenth birthday is almost coming up.  We moved into a new house.  We got a new puppy.  I’m not scared of Uncle Chris anymore!  Actually, I probably couldn’t have done it with you AND him gone!  I mean, it’s so, so hard without just you!  I think about you every single day.  I miss your touch.  I miss those nights when I was cold and you hugged me until I was […]
September 14, 2009

To My Patrick

My Patrick.  My dear, dear Patrick.  My forever mine Patrick. Why am I writing a letter to my dead husband?!!!  Dead–such a hard word to even use in connection with you, with us, with what we could have been, with what we wanted to be. DEAD.  My God!!  NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But YES. I told myself after you died that I would be committed to saying yes more often.  Yes to all life had to show me.  Yes to all I could give to life.  Yes. And now I have to say yes to your death.  Yes to OUR death.  WE are […]
July 23, 2009

From Kelly, Reflections

July 16, 2009 Nancy and I went for a walk in the woods this morning. We talked and grieved and remembered. A year ago today her life, my life, that of my family and the lives of some of my closest friends irrevocably changed. At 7:15 in the morning on July 16, 2008 I received a voicemail from Nancy saying that Pat had been hit by a car. It was already after 8 by the time I listened to her shaky message……I was at the hospital within minutes and there I stayed for the next several hours. “Traumatic brain injury, […]
July 23, 2009

One Year

One year.  One whole year!  We have come full circle.  We have experienced all the holidays, all the birthdays, all the seasons, all the newnesses that a full year can bring. All without Pat.  Patrick–my husband, our Papa, our uncle, our brother, our son, our friend, our mentor, our coach, our classmate, our coworker, our competitor, our student, our fellow community member.  He was a lot.  He was everything to me and my children. I want to write about all his life and death and this past year have been for me.  I do believe I have the strength to […]
February 22, 2009

Now and Forever

I’m slowly, agonizingly starting to accept that the physical Pat and the dynamics of our growing relationship are done.  The here and now with my Patrick is over.  We had a beginning and an end. But I am continuing.  And who I am now is forever immersed and entangled within the soul of my relationship with Pat.  Does this make any sense?  I am a new me, forever changed.  I will continue on.  Changing.  But always touched and influenced by Pat. Carol King’s Now and Forever speaks to me deeply and helps me place Pat in my life now: Now […]
February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, Pat.  We miss you.
January 21, 2009

Six Months

Six months have passed since Pat died.  Half a year. How have I been living without him for so long?! The last month has been so up and down for me.  I tried to ignore the holidays, let them just slip by unnoticed while I hide out in my room.  Fortunately, my family and this wonderful community did NOT let Christmas pass unobserved.  I could NOT give my kids what they really want and need.  But, this community banded together and gave them some material happiness.  I am forever grateful! I’ve begun looking forward a bit at a time.  I’ve […]
December 17, 2008


Today, my sister Mary took Daniel and me to the license bureau so Daniel could get his driver’s education permit (yes, I am that old). The last time I was at the license bureau was this past August, a few weeks after Pat died.  I had to sign Pat off of the cars’ titles and registrations.  That was excruciating. Today, I was sitting at the bureau with Daniel in the exact same chair as I had sat back in August.  I was remembering how I had broken down and cried in front of the BMV workers back then.  I am […]
December 16, 2008


11:54 p.m. Note to self: Next new winter widow I meet is going to get an electric blanket for her bed from me! Thanks, Mom. Pat was always so warm.  Piled-on blankets just don’t do it for me.
December 5, 2008

The Beauty of Now

Look your last at all things lovely every hour.  ~Walter de la Mare I feel as though I’ve been to the depths of life and tasted its core.  Having been there, how do I now continue on with the inanities of living?  Having been there, have I discovered the answers to the mysteries of LIFE?  I’ve wrestled with these mysteries.  I’ve explored them.  I’m in the process of learning to embrace them. Once again, I return to journal writings from a different me, long ago.  Trying to get a grasp: November 13, 1990 From living in the present, I have […]
December 2, 2008

Where To Now?

I’ve just spent 17 years working at my dream of being married and having a family.  It’s funny–I spent all my young life planning for college, career, marriage, children.  I had specific goals, and looking back, I believe I accomplished them just as I had always envisioned. But, I never had a long-term vision for what came next.  Pat talked often about our future, even asking my thoughts on retirement age–how we’d like to plan for it and live it and grow old together.  He often became frustrated with me because I could never give answers.  He wanted to plan […]
December 2, 2008

What am I doing?!

Here I am alone on Monday night. All the kids (and parents!) are asleep and I’m listening to the music I chose for this Web site while, in a new tab, I am reading through the pain and anguish of other young men and women on an internet bulletin board for young widow/ers. So much hurt everywhere. I normally would be spending this time with Pat, relaxing, talking about our day, about our children, making plans for the future. His belongings are STILL all around me. The boys finally have moved into rooms of their own. Laura tried her own […]
November 26, 2008

Gratitude List

No longer forward nor behind I look in hope or fear; But, grateful, take the good I find, The best of now and here. John Greenleaf Whittier During this period of Thanksgiving, I cannot help but think of all the good I have experienced in the last several months.  Each one of you has added to this most intense outpouring of good that I have ever known in my life. On the day of my Patrick’s funeral, I left the church and reception with one of the most profound feelings of happiness in my life.  How could such a tormenting, […]
November 21, 2008


This grief and mourning is constantly taking on new shapes.  When I think I’m reaching a tolerance for the feelings and issues I’m dealing with, the wave ebbs and then flows again, first crashing wildly upon me.  Each time, it hurts, it’s raw, and it’s deep. My emotional brain is only allowing me to handle what I can.  It has taken over my normal thinking and is slowly receding to reveal what I must now face. I am so fully aware that I am not the only one in this world who is feeling this way or has ever felt […]
November 20, 2008

IUSB’s Bike Fair

From WNDU’s site: Nursing students at IUSB took time today to honor a former friend and classmate who died in a hit and run. IUSB held their annual health fair today, but renamed it the Patrick Sawyer Memorial Health Fair. Sawyer was an IUSB nursing student who was hit and killed while riding his bike last July. This year’s health event aimed to promote bike safety. Nearly twenty vendors from local bike shops were on-hand showing students the latest in gear and maintenance. Members of the South Bend Police Department were there to promote safe cycling. “We renamed it the […]
November 8, 2008

My Victim Impact (part 2)

I continue the statement I made before the court with one of Pat’s letters to me while I was pregnant with our third son: Letter from Pat to me, 1998 Dear Nancy, Why do I want to live?  I want to be whole.  I want to know a bliss that I believe exists.  I believe that I must be whole before I can give my most to others. I want to become your soul mate.  I want to have a more complete love for you, a love without dependence.  I want a connection between our minds and souls that is […]
November 8, 2008

My Victim Impact Statement (Very Long!)

I had the opportunity to speak to the court at the sentencing for Shane McGee.  I was able to speak about how Shane’s actions on the morning of July 16 affected me–to describe my loss.  I was also able to give my thoughts on his sentencing. I knew I would want to say something, but I didn’t know what or how.  Every time I tried to put my loss into words, I broke down and realized it was impossible. I couldn’t give my thoughts on sentencing until I met Shane.  I had introduced myself quickly to him and his mother […]
November 7, 2008

Why Do I Write?

I have so many thoughts, issues, and experiences I want to write about. For starters, what are the reasons I write on this blog that I know is public and open to anyone and everyone?  Why should I expose my feelings to the wide open internet abyss? Many reasons. I started this blog as a practical way of letting friends and family know how Pat was doing in the hospital.  This eliminated the need to call a long list of people every day to update them on his status. I wanted Pat to be able to read about everything that […]
October 24, 2008


Okay, I’ve spent the day looking at many pictures from Pat’s and my past.  What indescribable pain. The night before Pat’s memorial services, all my extended family was gathered at my house (which is also my parents’ house) searching through my boxes of pictures for photos of Pat to display at the services.  It was a huge family process that I could not partake in.  Nieces, nephews, sisters- and brothers-in-law, brothers, sisters were all passing around stacks of photos to find Pat.  I know that all of Pat’s brothers and sisters and extended family were going through the same process […]
October 24, 2008

IUSB Bike Fair in Pat’s Honor

The nursing department at IUSB is sponsoring an annual health fair that they have decided to name for our Patrick. One of Patrick’s main passions was health and fitness. This year’s IUSB health fair is concentrating on bicycles. Pat’s former nursing instructor, Teri Dobrzykowski, is teaching a class of nurses returning to school for their BSN. She and the class are the primary planners for this upcoming bike fair. Teri invited me last week to IUSB’s nursing department and her class. Patrick basically lived at IUSB throughout the last 15 months of his life. His nursing program was extremely intensive […]
October 24, 2008


My mourning has become a self-indulgent luxury. Finding time to mourn when so much is going on seems selfish. Last week, for the first time, I was able to consciously put myself in denial mode. For these reasons, I have not contributed much to this site for the last several days. I apologize to all the faithful visitors and supporters! Except for a few relapses here and there, I was able to push the pain away and concentrate on some of the more practical matters I had been unable to fully address–taking showers, getting kids to bed in a more […]
October 22, 2008


My mourning has become a self-indulgent luxury. Pat died 3 months ago yesterday.
October 16, 2008

3 Months

Today marks the 3rd month since I last talked to Pat in the emergency room before his cranial surgery. Just writing that sentence has brought a flood of painful memories of my poor husband laying flatly strapped to an immobilizing spine board and in a neck brace. His puffy eyes opened when he heard my voice. To my relief, he recognized me, was able to kiss me, and told me he loved me. He whispered, “I’m okay.” God, I wish it were true!! After Shane McGee’s sentencing, I fell into a hollowing, carving depression. My physical mind and body began […]
October 14, 2008

My Precious Sister

I just wanted to say a few words about my sweet little sister, Nancy. I love her so very much, no one can understand the bond with, and love I have for Nancy. I love all of my sisters and brothers equally, but Nancy has been extra special to me. After my husband died, I felt I could not go on, I could not take care of my boys, I just couldn’t face my life, or living in general. She took care of my children for me, listened to me, came to my rescue many times, researched ways to help […]
October 9, 2008

Joey’s Victim Impact Letter

Dear Judge Chamblee, I am Joseph Peter Sawyer. I am 12 years old and Patrick Sawyer’s second oldest son. My papa was killed by Shane McGee. I think that Shane McGee should be punished for it, and I hope that he won’t come out from his punishment just being worse than before. I hope that his punishment could make him become better than he was before. If not that, then he should have to do good for the community with community service or something like that so that it’s not just that he killed my Papa and gets put in […]
October 9, 2008

Danny’s Victim Impact Statement

Dear Judge Chamblee, It is impossible to truly describe the devastation that I felt when I heard the news that my father had died from this tragic accident. With his death I have lost so much, I feel as though I have lost an entire half of my past, but what hurts even more is that I have lost such a large piece of my future as well. The person whose fault this is, the person who has caused such great devastation and grief is Shane Ryan McGee whose idiotic decisions have led to this horrible event. My father meant […]
October 7, 2008

Restorative Justice

This is Mary – I am NOT good at communicating my ideas, so please forgive me if this is not very clear – I will try to get my thoughts across on this concept. We were involved last Monday, 9/29/08 in a meeting involving Shane McGee, and a lawyer who specializes in mediating between victims and offenders, in order to promote Restorative Justice. It was a very enlightening meeting. Nancy and I, and some other family members, are all exploring this concept of Restorative Justice, or sometimes called “restorative practices”. I’m only beginning to learn what this means, and I […]