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 emotionally hard to handle.

His dressertop and bedside table are still a pile of his things.  His school backpack that was inseparable from him the last 3 years is still untouched with his packed items the day he was hit (actually, my mom was practical enough to remember that he always packed his meals for the day, so she had me take out his food).

I’ve found some interesting things:

  • A note with the contact information of Doug, the wonderful nurse who took such diligent care of Patrick while he was in the coma in the ICU at Memorial.  Patrick had been finishing his nursing school by doing critical care rotations.  On his own time, he would search out exceptional nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors to “shadow”–follow around at work for a day to see what it was like.  He had met Doug and they had spoken of Pat shadowing him at Memorial’s ICU.  How ironic that Doug ended up being his nurse.
  • Just tonight, Joey and I took from Pat’s backpack his handheld computer (Pat called it his “brain”).  We looked at his electronic calendar and saw that for the days after his accident he had planned on being at ICU just about each day.  On the day he died, he had scheduled “ice cream” at a nursing function.  He had been doing his ICU rotation at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, but ended up at Memorial.
  • On top of his piles of his dresser is a pamphlet for Indiana’s Tissue and Organ Donation.  Mere hours after Pat’s death, while I was breaking the news to our children, the donation center called me to ask permission for donation.  The kids immediately said, “That’s what Papa said would be the greatest gift!”  With that said, I took the call and went through one of the most grueling 45 minutes of my life giving an in-depth taped permission, with complete lifetime medical history of Patrick.  At a time when I was in the most utter state of emotional and physical shock and couldn’t even bear to hear someone say his name, I went through that phone call, knowing it’s what Pat and, ultimately, I wanted.  I had just come from the hospital where I had clung to his lifeless body sobbing, wailing, and thanking him for our life together, not wanting to ever let go of him, yet hours later gave permission for his corneas, skin on his back, and lower body from the pelvis down to be given to the living (it was too late for any internal organs to be donated).  I love you, Patrick, for your beautiful ability to GIVE!!!
  • His wallet contains his blood donor card.
  • All around me now as I type are evidence of his passions–his textbooks for learning, his paddling, cycling, swimming, and running training gear/calendar, and his children.  Daniel, Joey, Tommy, Laura and I still sleep in a huddled heap together.

I cannot believe it is September already!  I feel like time stopped back in July.  Thank God for my community, especially my family who has stepped in to take care of all practical matters. Slowly, gradually, I’ll continue to search–search for new meaning and growth.

I just recently read that you can’t fight darkness, you can only add more light.  I’m searching for that inner flame, kindled by all of you during the last several weeks, to grow stronger and spread light in this unimaginable darkness.


This Post Has 2,715 Comments

  1. Susan

    Hi Nancy,
    I know I haven’t been very good at leaving comments, because I guess that I know nothing can be said or done to make everything better for you, plus I’m not really good with words. But, I just wanted to let you know that I check this site daily and think of you often and hope that you are doing okay. It’s funny that you mention Patrick’s “brains”. I can still so clearly see him poking the buttons on that thing. Actually one of the last things I remember about Patrick is him pulling it out of his pocket to make sure he had the correct info to contact me so that we could talk about our capstone experiences in ICU. I think about Patrick often, replaying the many memories that I have of him. I miss him, his personality, his passion, just his presence. My thoughts and prayers are always with you Nancy and your family.

  2. Mary

    I love your posts, your deep thoughts and feelings communicated to us so well. You have always been my lifeline and I love you so much. I don’t know where I would be right now either without our wonderful family, and you and Pat especially.
    I was just sitting here watching Joe’s videos of Pat for the hundredth time and tears are just rolling down my face. I miss him so much, my heart hurts so much.
    As you talked about that night in the hospital, I know how brave you are to go there again. Lately I’ve been reliving that night too, and it hurts to all the depths of my heart and soul. You show incredible bravery and strength every single day Nancy. I am so proud of you, and so is Pat. I feel he tells me things at times, he is not gone, just as he told Jimmy in his dream. Pat also tells me how proud of you he is – I can FEEL him feeling proud of you if that makes any sense.
    All of my soul has been asleep these past few years, and honestly, Pat is helping me now, as are you, to wake it up again.
    It would take me writing an entire book to describe how much I love you and appreciate you and how proud I am of you – these few short words cannot come even close to telling you the truth of my heart.
    I just felt moved by this post to tell you what I am thinking, and what I believe Pat is saying through me now too.

  3. Mark Stosberg

    I work on bicycle advocacy and safety efforts in Richmond, Indiana. This work is inspired by part by the life and death of college friend Jess Bullen. She attended Earlham here, moved to Madison, WI to become a bicycle advocate there, and was killed by an inattentive motorist there while riding her bike.

    I started to organize local efforts, and last week we got the Richmond Bicycle Map back from the printers.

    I found your site because Bike Michiana is using some of our model to improve cycling in you area. I mailed some sample maps to Adam Bee there last week in hopes that they would be helpful.

    I cried when I read Patrick’s story perhaps because it sounded too much like it could be my own: I am myself a professional web designer with a young family and I try to be safe cyclist as well.

    I will add Patrick and the Sawyer family to my list of inspirations as I continue bicycle advocacy and safety efforts here.

  4. Adam......

    I love your dream. What a nice dream that you had. That is wierd that we were fighting over taffy. I love you so much!


Comments are closed.