Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Birthday Wish for Retta

Retta holding baby Emma
The following is a request.  Please add Retta and Jack Sheerin to your prayer/thought/casting/whatever-you-call-it lists.

Many of you know Retta.  For those who do not, she's been a friend of mine for about 15 years; was maid of honor at my wedding as I was at hers, and has had a really rough time the past few years.  Here's an idea of some of their recent challenges:  Her husband, Jack, lost his father, his job, and Retta developed hyperthyroidism which resulted in having to have her thyroid removed.  And all that happened in the same year that they were married!

But they never gave up.  This bullet-proof couple just kept working at their dreams; believing in each other with complete faith.  They decided to become even more self reliant (if that's even possible) and buy a farm.

However, life has once again decided to get in their way.  On the evening of May 18, Jack was in a traumatic motorcycle accident.  He was driving alone when he hit a deer and was whipped to the ground.  If not for some neighbors who found him, it's unsure how long he would have been left there.

Jack & Retta at their wedding
The accident left him with a contusion on his hip, a broken collar bone, and short term memory loss.  He's currently at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange.  The outlook is quite good, but recovering from brain damage takes time, the patience to deal with it, and a lot of faith.

For those unfamiliar with this kind of injury (as I was), Jack currently has trouble converting short term memory to long term memory.  I'm sure others reading this could explain it far better than I can, but the bottom line is that he only remembers what's been told to him for about an hour or so.  That means Retta has had to tell Jack that he's been in a motorcycle accident dozens of times over the past couple of weeks because each time he wakes up, he doesn't remember what happened to him, where he is, or why he can't do things by himself right now.  A comic reference would be the movie 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.  Obviously there's nothing funny though about having a spouse that remembers little every morning and to whom you have to relive the whole awful thing again and again.

At Theresa's Baby Sprinkle
As I said before, the outlook is good.  Don't get me wrong.  We think that Jack will be fine in the end.  This is just a very trying time and I needed to write about it.  There's very little I can do for them right now besides being there for Retta on the phone when she's not in the middle of making major medical decisions for Jack or keeping him from trying to leave the facility because he doesn't understand that he's injured.

And considering the fact that Retta is 5'2" and Jack is 6'6" that ain't easy!

What can you possibly say to a friend who is going through something like that?  Who has already gone through so much yet always seems to persevere with a grace and resilience that I can't fathom?  When something like this happens - to someone that means so much to you - all of your problems and issues seem so stupid!  Everything you worry about like bills or cleaning the house zooms out until it looks like a speck of dust that you can just blow away.  It's all so insignificant and you feel insignificant for having worried about all of that in the first place.

A rude lesson for the last two beautiful people who needed such a lesson.

The reason I'm writing this today instead of earlier is because I was lying in bed unable to sleep, thinking about things.  My mind wandered as to what I could possibly do to help Retta and Jack at a time like this.  Especially because - get this...

...tomorrow is Retta's birthday.

So for her birthday I would like to send as much love and thought her way as I can.  It's the best I can do.  Will you help me?

(I wish I had more pictures of Retta and Jack, but they're both very private people and expert camera dodgers!  I'll post more as I find them.)

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