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October 2, 2008


Yesterday was Shane McGee’s sentencing.  I have been silent (on this blog) on my opinions about my husband’s killer, but my conscience and soul have been grappling with the issue since the moment I learned Patrick was hit. I have a lot I want to write about on this issue, because I feel it’s important not only for me to process it all personally–I also want our community that has lost Patrick Sawyer to process through this loss with me. This past week has been extremely powerful for me and my family going through a restorative justice process.  As I […]
September 27, 2008

Powerful Message/Video

We wanted everyone to have a chance to check this out. This is a music video by the band  “Simple Plan” – they have put together a video that is very powerful and effective in showing the impact upon an entire family when one person is hit and killed by a drunk driver. Our entire family and everyone who loves Pat was also hit and thrown at the instant Pat was hit by a drunk driver. All of our lives have been strongly shaken and thrown into emotional and physical turmoil beginning with the initial impact. This video is very […]
September 21, 2008

Shells and Signs

The last few weeks I have been in a searching mode.  I’m vulnerable.  I’m open to all new thoughts, beliefs, ideas, awarenesses.  I plead for direct, absolute, indisputable answers, although I know this grief journey will only lead me back to the ambiguity of life. Lyrical messages, natural metaphors, dreams, coincidences, and signs abound teasingly.  Teasingly, because the messages come to me strongly, yet my mind grapples with them until they’re virtually neutralized. Grief has opened my soul rawly to the world, nature, love, and the abyss of unknowing. I have been changed–I am changing. I feel as though I’m […]
September 20, 2008

Next Week’s Canoe/Kayak Race Dedicated to Patrick

Our paddling friend Sonja Gilman is dedicating her 5th annual St. Joseph River Canoe/Kayak Race to Patrick. Date/Time: Saturday, September 27th, 2008. Race starts at 10:00 A.M. Registration begins at 8:30 A.M. Place: Registration and Race start at the boat ramp across from Memorial Park off Northside Blvd near IUSB in South Bend, IN. Race Event: 7.2 miles along the South Bend – Mishawaka Riverwalk. Race starts at Memorial Park and proceeds downstream past the Notre Dame Rowing Club to Howard Park. The turn around is approximately 1.5 miles down stream to the walking bridge. Racers will paddle back upstream […]
September 15, 2008

It’s Raining…It’s Pouring

Since Patrick’s accident, Michiana has experienced some of the most beautiful summer weather I’ve ever noticed.  This week it started raining and didn’t stop until it reached record rainfall levels this weekend. The last few months my family’s life has had that metaphorical record rainfall–we’ve seen pets die, Pat die, Carston die.  A few weeks ago a tiny baby squirrel fell from his tree nest at Joey’s feet and died after several long hours of our constant nurturing vigilance. Since Patrick’s death, my father’s health has deteriorated before our eyes.  The kids and I live with my mom and dad.  […]
September 15, 2008

It’s raining….It’s pouring

Since Patrick’s accident, Michiana has endured some of the most beautiful summer weather I’ve ever noticed.  This week it started raining and didn’t stop until it reached record rainfall levels this weekend. The last few months my family’s life has had that metaphorical record rainfall. I think it started early this summer when the mama robin built her nest on the ledge of my bedroom window, right above my bed.  My family watched the nest daily.  She laid her eggs, the featherless helpless babies hatched, the mama and papa robin took turns feeding them as they grew, their cheeping ever-present […]
September 14, 2008


Hi, I’m Joey.  I’m 12 years old and I wanted to write something about my Papa.  Deep breaths. Exhale loudly. Quiet laughter. In. Out.  What do I see when I think about Papa? Him. I picture Papa with his shirt off outside just smiling. He’s teaching me to roller blade. Just the other day, I had a dream. I had woke up in the morning and was just lying in bed. All of a sudden the dream came to me: Mama and I were driving on an unfamiliar road. It was all foggy and drizzly out. We passed Papa’s truck […]
September 13, 2008

Items Left Behind

The last couple days I’ve been feeling like I’ve gained some footing in the sucking mud pit I was in for the last week or two.  My entire body, mind, and spirit have been whirling in a tornado of shaken beliefs, thoughts, and ideas. For the most part, I’ve only hurriedly gone through Pat’s material belongings.  They are all around me, and I feel as though searching through them will give me some last undiscovered remnant of him.  Looking through them still gives me a sense that I’m invading his privacy.  Also, I’m a bit frightened I’ll find something too […]
September 12, 2008

My Dream

This is Laura.  I’m 8.  I had a dream with Papa in it this morning.  It was a dream in my dream where Tommy, all my cousins, and I were fighting over taffy, and I went back in the bedroom, and I saw Papa just sitting on the bed and Mama was still sleeping.  Then, the phone rang so she woke up and left to answer it. Papa, Tommy, and I were all cuddling in the bed. While I was cuddling, I felt Papa’s shoulder–just rubbing it lightly.  Then Papa reached up his other arm, but his hand was off, […]
September 9, 2008

Pete Kaczor’s Ride

My family, friends, and I attended Pete Kaczor’s Memorial Bike Ride this evening.  I was able to meet some of Pete’s family and friends and learn more of what a wonderful man Pete was.  I can’t believe I was doing this again so soon after Pat’s memorial ride! I was glad to see the media covering the ride: WNDU story and video, reporter Sarah Platt.My 14-year-old Daniel spoke in this video.  He had a lot to say, but of course it was edited and shortened.  Daniel has been doing some serious thinking lately about all the issues surrounding his Papa’s […]
September 9, 2008

Memorial Bike Ride for Pete Kaczor Today

Many, many people have since expressed their desires to cycle more frequently but are afraid to do so due to the current unsafe road environment in Michiana. Not long ago (Aug. 28), another young Michiana family man, Pete Kaczor, was killed while riding his bike, training for a triathlon.  Community awareness of the bike safety issues must remain in the forefront!  Outpost Sports is hosting a family-friendly bike ride in  memorial to Pete. I urge anyone who cares about bicycle safety to attend this ride!  (please spread the news!): Peter Kaczor Memorial Ride (post from BikeMichiana.org) Posted by Paul Taylor on […]
September 6, 2008

I’m reading…

All of you wonderful readers, I am reading your comments and emails.  I so feel your genuine concern.  I’m not alone, all of you are holding me up.  My mother and sisters are my tangible lifeline.  They’re setting up grief counseling for me and the kids. I am aware of the stages or cycles of grieving and I know there’s no way around them.  I’m just blown away by the pure intensity and “newness” of the pain each day.  It’s not like a general depression; each day, each minute unfolds a deeper pain or a shockingly new variation on the […]
September 4, 2008


Oh my God!  Patrick died!  Oh, God, the pain is unbearable!!  Why is it still so intense?!  I am in utter disbelief!  I am not waking *up from* a nightmare.  I am slowly waking *into* a nightmare!!  Each day, the realization of my Patrick’s death becomes more literal–it is becoming more real. The pain now is back to the initial, physical throes of grief.  I can’t breathe, I throw up, I can’t eat, I want to stop, I want to shrivel up.  My body shakes uncontrollably, I get strong heat, searing flashes, I get shivery cold.  My chest is compressed […]
September 3, 2008

Great Viewpoint!

Thank you, Kathleen Petitjean, for your inspiring Viewpoint in today’s South Bend Tribune!  Your passion for what is right is clearly portrayed.  Let’s hope our elected officials, policemen, cyclists, and motorists read it carefully! See Kathleen’s article here. I want so badly for our community to change for the better regarding bicycle safety.  Since Patrick’s death I have heard countless others express their desires to cycle to work, school, the store, or library, but they DON’T.  It’s not safe out there–YET. Nancy
September 1, 2008


This is Mary. I had the opportunity to sit down with Nancy yesterday and have a long talk with her about everything that is happening, things she is thinking and feeling, and about questions we all have about everything. I am not the best at translating my thoughts into words, and I know I get too wordy most of the time, so just bear with me! Also, these are MY thoughts, (combined with Nancy’s), so it my own questioning and deficiency of faith that I am revealing here… First and foremost, where is Pat? We believe in the spirit, in […]
August 31, 2008

Moped Driver Killed in Elkhart

More awareness is needed on everyone’s part–drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, mo-peds, wheelchairs!! Here’s the most recent in our community: Man on moped killed in Elkhart collision My sincerest condolences to Garry Holloway’s family.  He was only 28.
August 30, 2008

It feels good to talk

Hi, it’s Tommy again. Thank you, Pam, for telling me about such a great idea to plant a tree for Papa.  There’s a plum tree that’s in our side yard that’s perfect for climbing because it’s hidden away in a bush.  I’m not tall enough to reach the first branch, so I grab the trunk, put my feet on it, and pull myself up to the first branch.  It’s hard even then, but I make it. Then I have a great place to hang out.  Once I dangled my feet off by just holding on with my hands on a […]
August 29, 2008

City of Bikes

Thank you, Heidi, for passing along this YouTube video.  It shows Amsterdam, the “City of Bikes”.  Do you think an American city can ever come close? Nancy
August 29, 2008

Another bicyclist died!

I am just sick.  My hands are shaking as I type.  Yesterday, early morning, a 38 year old man, Peter Kaczor,  training for a triathlon, was struck by a car and died at the scene.  My heart goes out to the family!!  I hope I can contact them somehow. Here’s the article in the South Bend Tribune. Sarah Rice of WSBT, did a good news segment “Accidents involving bicycles are on the rise“. Read the comments following the story–lots of needed discussion about bike safety. Nancy
August 28, 2008


Grief is so erratic, so volatile. I realize the *only* way I can healthily survive grief is by experiencing it face on. I have had so many thoughts in the past several days that I want to write about. Writing on this site has been so therapeutic for me. I feel a strong need to stay in touch with the community that has supported me in my darkest hour yet. This grief keeps changing shape. At first it was such a physical pain–I couldn’t eat for weeks, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t breathe, I could barely walk, I would suddenly […]
August 25, 2008

Pat’s Love, Pat’s Life

This is Mary – I just wanted to stop by and leave a little note about Pat. Yesterday (Sunday) we went to his pinning ceremony/graduation at IUSB. This was the day that Pat worked so hard for over the past 3 years. This was the day he sacrificed his time with his family for. This was the day he and Nancy dreamed of and looked so forward to. This was the day he finished his nursing education, received his degree and his nursing pin, and if he were still here, this is the day that would have symbolized the beginning […]
August 23, 2008


Pat’s class of accelerated nursing students are graduating this Sunday. The kids and I will be there to receive the diploma in Pat’s place.  Back in May, Pat had the opportunity to wear a cap and gown and participate in IUSB’s main graduation ceremony, although he wasn’t really done with his nursing yet.  He chose to take part in the ceremony so our kids could witness it and see how his hard work paid off.  This Sunday is his “real” graduation. This is one of the hardest aspects of Pat’s death. We’ve been living with my parents for the last […]
August 21, 2008

New Tribune Opinion

Here’s another “Voice of the People” contribution to the South Bend Tribune.  Please help us keep this issue in the forefront. View other opinions at the “Voice of the People” link above.  I’ve also included the Tribune’s contact information so you can write your own opinion on bike safety or drunk driving. Public Outcry August 21, 2008 I am writing in response to comments in the wake of the recent death of Patrick Sawyer, who was killed after being hit by a car while riding his bicycle. I can now understand the public outcry concerning the need for bicycle lanes […]
August 20, 2008

Drunk Driving

My heart goes out to the family of Carol Ragsdale who died Saturday morning in Mishawaka by another drunk driver. What can be done? I wish this nightmare on no one. There are a few campaigns to help through Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.  One is an ignition interlock for convicted DUI offenders.  To support this campaign you can go here and have a pre-written letter (one that you can edit) sent to: our Governor our Senators our State Representatives Also, the  Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are searching for ways to […]
August 17, 2008

Where is Pat?!

I’m typing on my desktop computer back in our bedroom in the dark while my kids are sleeping on mattresses all around me.  The sound of nothing but the pecking keyboard reminds me of Pat.  In the last year, I’d often go to bed earlier than he did, and I’d hear this sound as I’d fall asleep–Pat working hard to finish some school assignment or catch up with some personal emails. My desktop faces a large window with the horizontal blinds closed.  Through one uneven gap in the slatted blinds a bright light suddenly peeks through.  It’s what looks to […]
August 17, 2008

WSBT Interview

Today WSBT interviewed me.  The article link is here. Look for the box that says: MULTIMEDIA “Watch the Video” Nancy
August 16, 2008

Arraignment–Tribune Article

The South Bend Tribune printed a good article by Pablo Ros on the whole arraignment situation: Driver:  I was drunk I want so desperately for something good to come of Patrick’s death–I do not want to his death to be in vain. Please consider and discuss with me what we can do in our community about drunk driving and bicycle safety!!!!  Do you have ideas or concerns on either of these issues?  Comment at the end of this post. Nancy
August 15, 2008

Arraignment Today

Today was the arraignment for the driver. He pled guilty to two class C felonies: driving while intoxicated and failing to stop at an accident, resulting in death. WNDU did a news segment that captures pretty well how I felt.  Go to the following link and click on the little video camera icon under the main article title to see the video: WNDU Article Love, Nancy
August 14, 2008

I still can’t believe Pat is gone

I am Sarah…..married to Joe, Nancy’s brother.  I thought I’d properly identify myself here since I forgot to do so when I shared a little bit about Pat at the reception after his funeral.  I think I felt pressed for time there and only ended up telling a story of paddling with him, and a few other things that quickly came to mind.  In fact, I had papers filled with stories and thoughts on Pat, and Pat and Nancy, but they were not cohesive as a sharing.  So, although I’m still not thinking clearly after shopping at WalMart with my 4 […]
August 13, 2008

Update/Out of Town/Biking

For the next couple of days, I will be out of town staying with Patrick’s family.  I will not have internet access. Yesterday was the arraignment for the driver who killed Pat.  Unfortunately, we waited for 2 hours only to be told it will be postponed until Friday morning.  The full story can be found at WSBT.com. Last Thursday, I attended a bike summit meeting that resulted in the founding of the Bike Michiana Coalition, a great group of energetic and committed people to a safer Michiana for bicycles.  I find their mission to be critical.  Pat’s death serves as […]