First, let me thank the thousands of you who are sending in your names to endorse life saving legislation for mothers, infants and families. We are trying to post ASAP. Please join us! Many of you have included personal stories of your own experiences which offer a far more powerful inducement to pass this legislation than anything I could ever write. Among the most frequent comment from mothers and family members is “I wish I had known”
We desperately need the public awareness campaigns, research, treatment and support for postpartum mothers that will be funded by The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act NOW. There is not another moment or life to lose.
Joseph A. Raso sent this account of the tragic loss of his precious daughter to postpartum depression. He asked me to post it or share it wherever I felt it could help pass The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.
The Best Meal of My Life
I experienced the best meal of my life the other day. That’s saying a lot from a man who is just shy of 60, and has spent his entire life in the restaurant business. Since my 6th birthday, when my parents opened up La Bella’s, a little mom and pop Italian restaurant, I have had the opportunity to travel and enjoy delicious meals prepared by some the world’s finest chefs.
Even after my wife left, and I was faced the prospect of raising two energetic children on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and Hamburger Helper, I never lost my appetite for fine dining.
In the early 90’s I met my current wife Mary, a beautiful single mom of two. Her parents had passed, so I asked her eldest teenage daughter, Crystal, for permission to take her mom to dinner. It’s funny - looking back now, I can’t tell you what Mary was wearing, but the restaurant was a perfect combination of cozy atmosphere and scrumptious food.
As 2000 rolled around, our kids now grown, Mary and I discovered cruise ships. We realized, if we carefully picked our departure dates, we could cruise for about $200.00 a day with the all important, MEALS INCLUDED!
On a cruise ship, nothing surpasses the experience of a savory dinner of two hours, your meal prepared by top chefs, while enjoying an unhurried conversation with your spouse. A brochure on one of our cruises informed us that, for an extra $25.00, we could have the “Ultimate Dining Experience”. We could not believe our meals could get any tastier but we gave it a try. Words cannot explain the evening. The service was impeccable and the food was to die for. Gazing at Mary across the table with the moon rising behind her made my diner all the more unforgettable.
We have been on about ten cruises now and I never thought we could top those culinary delights, until the other day, when I experienced the best meal of my life.
Crystal, the oldest of our four children, was always the more serious. She was the one to whom we entrusted our most important papers and house keys when we left town. Crystal gave birth to Hannah in 2003 and baby Max in 2007. When Max was born, things just seemed to bother Crystal more. She seemed to worry about everything. We tried to reassure her, but that was Crystal, the worrier.
On Feb 25, 2008, we got together with her and her husband, Chris, for lunch. Everything seemed fine. On Feb 27, 2008 at 11:45 AM, Mary received a call from the police concerning a family emergency at Crystal’s house. As we raced the few blocks to her house, I feared the worse. Did baby Max, not yet four months old, die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? I begged: God please let Max be OK!
As we rounded the corner and their house came into view, there were police cars in the streets and driveway. A detective who was polite, but uninformative, stopped Mary and I from entering the house. As I turned back to the street, I noticed Chris holding baby Max. Knowing that Hannah was in school, I asked him what was going on. With a dazed look in his eyes he told us that Crystal had shot and killed herself.
She had seemed unusually worried the past few days, always fussing about Max, unable to get a good night’s sleep. Attempting to breast feed as long as possible, she was concerned that her milk was drying up. We didn’t notice the symptoms of what we later learned was, Postpartum Depression. We just thought that was Crystal, always worrying.
Over a year has now passed. We have all pulled together and gotten into the routine of helping Chris raise Hannah, his precocious first grade daughter, and Max, a handsome boy of sixteen months. I have volunteered to give Max his 06:00 AM feeding five days a week. This occupied my time and kept my mind off of Crystal. Mary would come over at 07:15 and get Hannah ready for school. In the morning commotion, Chris would wolf down some cereal, and if the kids were up, give them a kiss, and out the door he’d go, grateful for us being there.
It is amazing how we live assumptive lives. Every day, we assume our family will always be there. It’s not that we have taken them for granted it is just that no one ever expects to outlive their own child. I now appreciate the little things in life more. I love Max’s happy giggle every morning as I sing to him while changing his diaper. The joy experienced viewing Hannah’s beautiful sleepy face, when she rolls out of bed is unexplainable.
Mary and I took all four grand kids to a matinee the other day. After the movie, we stopped at Target to get them a snack. “We want the Kids $2.00 Hot Dog & Soda Special,” they yelled. Mary and I sat at a table across from them. As we ate, we enjoyed the view of our grandkids just being kids. I savored every second of hearing them laugh and watching them play as I finished my salad and hot dog. It was the best meal of my life.
Joseph and his family ask that you support The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act.