"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Justice for Henry --You Can Help

I am going to ask for your help. I am going to ask for a few seconds of your time to sign a petition. Your signature will mean the world to a family who has lost their dear son, brother, cousin, nephew, and grandchild. His name was Henry Louis Granju and he was murdered.

I have written about Katie Granju before, and the tragic loss of her son Henry. (see posts here and here). I have been deeply touched by Katie’s love for her son and her strength in fighting for justice for him. The loss of a child under any circumstances is the worst imaginable tragedy, and for Katie and her family, this devastation has been heartbreaking. I have wept as I have read her words—filled with such pain and loss—sharing a story she can barely believe herself. I have watched videos of Henry and have seen photos of him from all stages of his life—toddling around in diapers, posing for family pictures, and holding a guitar in many of them, his love of music evident from the look on his face. Without knowing him personally, I could just see something in him—a beauty he could give to the world—so many gifts. Sadly, his life ended last year when Henry was just eighteen. Eighteen. He had so much more to give, so much more to do- he had only just started.

Henry battled addiction—a fact his family has never denied or tried to hide. He struggled to find his way back to being sober.  

But Henry died because he was murdered. And he suffered. He was beaten and suffered while the criminals involved in his attack (and who provided the drugs for him- a lethal overdose) refused to call for help and let him suffer for too long.

I cannot stand to think of anyone I love in that situation. I cannot imagine as a mother how painful life is after losing your son this way.

What has been worse is the way that Katie and her family have been treated by local authorities and the DA’s office. I have been shocked to read correspondence sent to her by the very people that should be her champions…Henry’s champions. They have been anything but. I have been awed by her ability to hold back telling the world these horrible things—while hoping and waiting that somehow justice would be done for her son. She waited as long as she could.

Now, she has told the whole story—piece by heart-wrenching piece. Not only has this mother lost her son, she has single-handedly had to fight to just get the authorities to do their jobs. Thankfully, she is starting to get support through lawyers that have stepped up to help, and through some articles and national media outlets.

Because Henry battled addiction, the authorities have called him an “unattractive victim” and have seemed to send the message that some cases, some people don’t matter as much as others. I don’t believe that.
I have written about how much I have learned and been changed by Henry’s story. Learning about this beautiful, talented boy who comes from a wonderful, loving family has shown me how much we all judge people and terms like addiction- even on some small level. We think of an addict, and an image pops to mind. But, anyone is at risk--whether it’s addiction or mental illness or life paths we can never imagine—we are all steps away at times from our whole world turning upside down. We can all say “I never would” or “My child would never”, but I promise you, no one knows what may happen tomorrow.

And all the Henrys out there…they are someone’s son, someone’s cousin, someone’s brother, someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone who is LOVED- no matter their mistakes or choices.

Henry was and is loved. He is remembered. He was a beautiful, talented boy who did not deserve to die the way that he did. I have to believe there will be justice for that.

Please help. Please take a few seconds and sign this petition for Katie, for Henry, for his family. And for all the other Henrys out there.

Click HERE to sign the petition asking that Henry’s case be fully investigated as it should be.
Other important links:

Henry’s Fund- started by Henry’s family to help other teenagers in need of treatment for addiction
Katie's blog- Mama Pundit – she outlines all of the details of Henry’s case part by part here.


Sunday, April 10, 2011


This poem (or something like it) has been floating around in my head for weeks. I would jot down a line or a thought at work, or on a napkin at dinner.

The thought behind it actually came from Facebook, of all places. I reluctantly joined Facebook a few years ago, mostly to silence the cries of a few friends. What I found there was, well, my husband, for starters. We had gone to high school together, but were only acquaintences. I reconnected with him and started to get to know someone I grew to love deeply.

But Facebook has also given me another amazing gift. It is a portal into the lives of people I have known forever, just met, and others that are somewhere in between. People from across the country that I would otherwise have lost touch with, or only shared a birthday email or maybe a phone call once a year. Instead, I instantly see pictures of their child’s birthday parties, hear of important occurrences in their lives, or get the opportunity to support them when they need it, becoming one of a chorus of supporters during hard times.

I have watched friends I love gain strength, in part, because of that support. But mostly, I have had a heavy heart in seeing what so many people I care about are going through.

Life is hard. Beautiful, but hard.


We could not have known-

Standing in a sea of caps and gowns…

A milestone behind us.

A mixture of emotions-

in our youth, but a whisper.

In a book meant to last forever,

our names under frozen smiles-

our signatures a flourish-

bright with hope…

ready for the next chapter.

We could not have known

that love waited beyond the walls

of those four years.

That we would become such different people

than who we were then.

We could not have known

That the joy of a child’s birth

would change our view of the world.

That our own marriages could fail,

despite the pictures, the vows, and love itself.

We could not have known

That loss came in an array of colors

that did not dim with the passage of time-

but instead, gained vividness

on anniversaries and random Tuesdays.

We could not have known

Friends would bury their children,

Illness would strike in unexpected places,

Our former heroes reduced

to a normal existence.

We could not have known

that friends from a lifetime ago

would come rushing back

to save us,

Just in time.

We could not have known

How strong we all could be.

How much we could survive.

How much there was to learn.

How precious the moments of every day are.

And it is better

that we could not have known.

How beautiful were the moments

before the sorrow...

How thankful we are for what happened next.

There was no other way…

We could not have known.


Friday, April 8, 2011

A Dog Named Patrick

Last month, a severely emaciated, abused and neglected pit bull was found in the trash at a New Jersey housing complex. A janitor heard his cries and called for help. The dog had been put in a garbage bag and thrown 19 stories down a trash chute.

The dog was taken to Associated Humane Societies, and then transferred to Garden State Veterinary Specialists, an emergency veterinary hospital. It was the night before St. Patrick’s Day, and the doctors and staff named him Patrick.

This is a photo of Patrick on the night he was brought in. (I struggled with posting this photo on my blog. I know it is graphic in nature, but I figure if Patrick can live through what he did, we can all handle seeing this photo.)

I was working and on my computer a few days after this had happened, and someone on Facebook shared the story. When I clicked the link, the horror of the picture above and other pictures included took my breath away. My husband asked repeatedly, “What’s wrong? Honey, what is it?” before I could even say anything. I was crying before I knew it. I could not believe this dog was even alive.

Here is one of the most recent photos of him. Look at the difference a few weeks makes—under excellent care!

I have seen and heard countless stories of animal abuse and neglect, but because of the extreme nature of this case, I was even more distraught than usual. Stories like this, and stories of child abuse, can get me to a place where I am sick with disgust, and can’t get the victims out of my mind. Apparently, I am not alone.

The good news in this case is that so many people have seen these pictures and are equally appalled. Facebook pages in Patrick’s honor have quickly counted thousands of “likes”.  Newspapers all over the world are covering this case, and the Garden State Veterinary Specialists hospital has been almost overwhelmed by concerned callers, emails, and gifts sent to Patrick. Very quickly, all of Patrick’s medical care was covered (and then some)—and GSVS actually put out a notice asking people to donate to the Associated Humane Societies, or their local shelters.

I believe this little being’s legacy will be the awareness that has come about because of his suffering. I know there are people out there who were truly unaware that anyone could do such a thing to an animal, or that the laws are so slight regarding animal abuse.

The sad and horrible truth is that this kind of thing happens all the time. More than we can imagine. Most cases go almost unnoticed, or the animals die and no one ever knows the truth. 

I am sure that thousands of people have applied to adopt Patrick, and as part of his legacy, I hope these people and thousands of others go to a shelter and rescue one of the other Patricks out there. I love thinking that hundreds or thousands of animals will be saved because of one pup’s fight to stay alive, against the odds.

I struggle all the time to think of ways I can help more. For now, I am just giving all my rescue animals—Lilly, Lucy, Baxter, and Bear-- all the love they can handle.

Here are links to recent articles:

Look at him now! Patrick the Pit Bull makes remarkable recovery... 


And a link to The GSVS Animal Hospital’s Facebook Page, who have provided such amazing care for Patrick (you can follow their updates on his care).


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Own Vanilla Sky

If you haven’t seen the movie Vanilla Sky, I can’t really recommend it. It is a weird movie, and I am not a fan of Tom Cruise. Not even a little bit- I never have been. But somehow, a few years back, while on one of my countless business trips, I ended up in a hotel with jet lag and Vanilla Sky was the best thing on tv that night.

So, the premise (basically) is this: A man meets the woman of his dreams and she feels the same way. It is amazing-once-in-a-lifetime love; it is just the beginning for both of them. Then, somehow, his ex talks him into getting into her car so she can take him on what she hopes will be the last ride of both of their lives. She plunges the car off a bridge. She is killed. He is disfigured. 

He goes back to his true love and tries to recapture what they had. At first she is hesitant and feels betrayed by what happened. She refuses. But finally, she relents and their lives are better than they ever dreamed. He has a surgery that miraculously fixes him back to almost new. She loved him through everything. Happily Ever After. 

Then, at some point, he realizes it has all been a dream. What he thought was happening ended after the accident. He lost his love. Lost all the beauty he thought he had been living.

There are a few more twists and turns in there, but that is what I took away from it when I saw it, and for my purposes here, that’s the gist. The reason I have walked you through the storyline of a movie you really needn’t bother seeing is that lately, I have been haunted a little by the thought that somehow, I am living under my own Vanilla Sky.

Yes, that’s crazy. My brain knows that (most of the time). But there are times I wake up in the middle of the night sweating, shaking, and feverishly digging through the covers to find my husband. And sometimes, I don’t have to be woken from a nightmare, sometimes the thought crosses my mind in broad daylight on a random Wednesday when I am in the middle of my workday.

The depression that held me captive for the better part of my life was deep and strong. As much as I shared with friends, therapists, and family members, no one can truly know what it was like to suffer through decades of fighting every single day to just survive. I can honestly say that during those years—all of them—there was barely a day that went by when I didn’t think of suicide. Sometimes events triggered those feelings- family struggles, work stress, breakups—but those events were just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The day to day pain was more than I could stand. I am shocked sometimes that I came through it at all.

So, now I have all these things I thought I would never have. I have beaten the depression that I thought would be a lifelong companion. I have met and married the love of my life- and have found in him someone who loves me the way I have always dreamed of being loved. I love him more every single day. I live in a beautiful home with our dog Bear, three cats, and we are only steps away from the ocean.
At times, it almost seems too good to be true.

I worry that because I didn’t value my life for so long- that in the cosmic order of things- I will be punished for those thoughts-for thinking my life wasn’t worth living. 

I worry that somehow, it did end back there. In some screwed up purgatory like existence, this isn’t all real.
Are you convinced I have lost my mind yet?

To be clear-I don’t spend all my time worrying or in this state. I go to work every day, walk the dog, cook dinner, laugh—a lot, enjoy the days. It is just in quiet moments when my mind trails off, when I think how lucky and happy I feel now, I let my thoughts wander—and go to these places.

I think part of it was that I had convinced myself of so many things over the years. After so many parts of my life seemed to fail, and after a really long time of feeling so alone and on my own, I stopped believing in a lot of things. Love, happiness, and really feeling a purpose again. I have gotten large doses of all of that in a short amount of time- so it is almost a shock to my system.

Depression is also more than a dark cloud or sad moods. It is something that inhabited me—something I had to rid myself of through therapy and medication and a slow rebuilding of my self esteem. Over dinner the other night, I told my husband that as much as I wish we had met earlier and had even longer together, I am so glad we met when we did. In darker times, I wouldn’t have been ready, I hadn’t made myself whole yet. All of this could have slipped by. I had to get through everything and come out the other side on my own steam to be where I am now—with him.

Nothing in my life is perfect. Shea and I argue at times, and we have both had to adjust to living with someone after years of being single. My workdays aren’t always great, and the house is a mess most of the time. 

When I worry, or wake up lost, or let my mind wander too far away, Shea takes my hand and brings me back here to where we are now.

And tonight, under a sky that is as black as ink and lit with a thousand stars, I know it is all real.  It is the most wonderful, imperfect life I could have hoped for.



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