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Monday May 20, 2013
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As I moved through life and grew older I had thoughts of my final departure and I made sure the family would be taken care of the best I could, I never thought about burying one of my own children, I didn’t know what to do and there are people out there that believe once the initial shock of someone’s death is over then everything magically takes care of itself.
Please let me enlighten you of what we went through and we needed to do, the feelings and the speed in which it must be accomplished:
As I entered the house from the back yard with total confusion and denial that my daughter had died that night, I walked in circles not knowing what to do or who to call, my wife left the house looking for her as I called 911 and tried to explain to the operator what I needed (I don’t even know if I made any sense) after being put on hold then told I would be called back I sat on the couch shaking and asking God to please keep her safe and I would see her in the hospital in need of treatment but still alive.
I picked up the phone and again dialed 911 and got the same operator and again I was put on hold, someone from a police agency up north asked how they could help and again I tried to explain my problem and was told I would be called back, as I waited what seemed like hours (Min. only) My wife returned and we were all in a panic so again I called 911 and was transferred to the desk sergeant at a police department up north, he asked who I was and when he acknowledged who I was there was a moment of silence before he said the words that ring in my head all the time “I’m sorry Mr. McCarthy but your daughter has passed away” at that moment I couldn’t feel my legs and some how I managed to ask him where she was, as I hung up the phone and looked at my wife standing in the middle of the living room with a panic in her eyes that I had never seen before, I slowly walked to her and wrapped my arms around her and whispered “I’m sorry” and held her tight.
As we called some local relatives (I thank god for them) we had a knock on the door and it was the Puyallup Police Chaplin and he entered and asked what he could do to help, we had asked if he could find our daughter so we could go see her and let her know we were there for her.
As he flipped open his cell phone and made some calls I found myself in a fog, everything moved in slow motion and when someone spoke it sounded like the speaker was in a tunnel; as he spoke with the Medical Examiner I had asked to see her and was told No that there was no room, I again said I want to see her and put her in a hallway so I can be with her and again I was told No.
I turned to the Chaplin and said maybe it’s not her and how do they know its her, he said he would go to his office and get the fax of a picture sent by the Medical Examiner.
What seemed like hours the Chaplin finally returned and I met him in our driveway, As he walked towards me he said “your daughter has red hair?” at that moment I knew she was still alive, he then produced a yellow envelope and opened it to reveal a head shot of someone that was at the M.E. office my heart raced and my mind was set on not seeing my daughter but someone else (my hope that she was still OK) and as I turned to my brother in law and said to him “its not her” but he looked straight at me and said “Its Danielle”
I will forever remember that photograph and that morning and the deep pain I felt then is felt everyday all day long.
I don’t know how the media received the story or how the knew who we were or lived but they were calling constantly and wanted the story (what story? We didn’t know anything ourselves) but they kept showing up until they were lined up in the kitchen.
One would leave as another came into the living room to set up and ask us the same questions that the last reporter had asked.
All the TV news channels, a radio station, newspapers and even a prime time Seattle talk show called. We did what they asked and answered the questions the best we could, we needed answers and they were there to help. (I hoped)
We decided on Powers Funeral home (I don’t remember even talking about it) and the ride there seemed endless (I was thinking what am I doing this for and why?)
I had never been in a Funeral home before so I was unsure what to expect, we were greeted and taken to a separate room away from public view.
As he opened his folder and started to discuss the costs and the process I felt like I was negotiating a deal for my construction company not my little girl’s funeral.
You need to make a decision and where she would be buried but we decided on cremation (that was her wish) then you must decide what casket she would be in during her viewing (you rent one) then the urn her ashes would be placed, then you must pick the flowers, the registry book, the announcements and on and on.
All I kept thinking is that this is not true and can we leave now because I’m done.
I held onto my wife’s hand the whole time and let her know it would be alright but as we were led around that small room to pick all of the items needed I didn’t know if I could hold my wife up as I didn’t know if I was going to make it myself.
We left the Funeral home and at that time I couldn’t remember why I was there, but what I did know is that we needed to get through this and I would look at my wife and whisper to her that we will show others the love we have for each other and that we can do this.
Time now to let the world know who our daughter was, it was time to write down all you can about a beautiful, fun loving, precious 16 year old that I knew should be here with us.
How do you write all of what you think and know in a small newspaper article?
I believe others had taken care of this for us but I don’t remember; what I do remember is walking out to the driveway to get the newspaper the next morning as I had done so many times before, I think it was just automatic for me to do this; I walked into the kitchen and opened the paper to find that obituary of my little girl and as I read it I only got half way through when I realized this is real and I am standing in my kitchen reading an obituary about my daughter, this wasn’t suppose to happen, your not suppose to be reading an obituary about any of your kids, that’s when I turned around and lowered the paper to my side and start to cry in deep, awful pain.
I have never finished reading it.
Now we must decide what cloths she would wear, as I looked into Danielle’s room I saw my wife and daughter sitting on the floor going through some of Danielle’s cloths to decide which ones to include some jewelry, I still didn’t understand why we were doing it because Danielle could do it herself after all it was her cloths.
We delivered the cloths and now we waited for her family viewing (this would be the first time we would see her in many days)
The day arrives of the viewing, I don’t remember the day or what time the viewing was but for some odd reason I couldn’t wait to see her; what I do remember was that ride to the funeral home, it was long.
We arrive and are led to a separate room where the family was seated, our family physician arrived and I thought that was a good thing considering the shape I was in but also my wife’s condition, as the time approached for my wife and I to go to the room where she was, all I can remember is our Doctor leaning down to us as we sat and waited and feeling my heart race in fear and my body shaking with sweat forming on my forehead, I was saying to myself “I cant do this; I cant” (I truly thought I was going to have a heart attack and I was glad there was a doctor in the house).
I don’t remember the short walk from the waiting room to the room Danielle was in but I do remember walking in with my wife holding me while I was holding on to her and seeing the casket to the right of the entry against the wall but I was unable to see her yet.
As we approached I caught my first look at my little girl sense new years eve, the last day I saw her alive; She looked peaceful and at rest but that feeling lasted for all of two seconds and I realized that she was in a casket and that shouldn’t be, at that very moment I lost all control and sobbed like I had never done before, I reach to her and touched her hand and felt the coldness that comes with death but that didn’t bother me because I knew she needed me and at that moment I was there for her.
I leaned down to her and stroked her hair and held her hand as I whispered “I love you baby girl” and for some reason I felt at peace like someone held me and said she’s ok, no one can hurt her again that she’s with God.
I remember as each one of her family members came into the room to see her I was unable to help; I couldn’t fix this one and make things all better, at that moment my all ready broken heart had now shattered.
I don’t remember leaving that night or how I got home, the rest of that night I may not remember but I will never forget the look on my wife’s face or the looks and the emotion displayed by all earlier that evening.
Again I don’t remember the day, day of the week or the time of the day the public viewing was but I remember being led in through the back door to a private room attached to the main room where Danielle was, this room had seating for the family and had a white sheer hanging to separate the two rooms, as I looked out past the sheer I saw all of the flowers surrounding the casket where my precious little girl lay, they were beautiful and pink; her favorite color.
I stepped from behind the sheer holding my wife’s hand with all my might and we slowly made our way to Danielle’s side; although we had seen her earlier at the private viewing I felt as this was the first time I was going to see her.
Again she looked beautiful and I wondered when she would wake up so we could take her home, we leaned in together and as I held her hand my wife stroked her hair and told her we were there for her and everything would be alright.
We went back behind the sheer and the public began to arrive, as they slowly made their way to the casket the sobbing, crying and the words of disbelief that each and every person displayed brought another tear to my eyes.
How could this happen? What happened? Who did this to her?
As the day progressed I was amazed at the number of people that showed their love but I was also amazed by the diversity of the people, that day is the day I learned what an impact my daughter had on so many people, how she loved everyone and wanted to make everyone happy no matter who they were, that day Danielle taught me more than anyone has my whole life.
The funeral home allowed the viewing to last all day (usually it is for a couple of hours) they some how knew the impact she had on others and that an all day viewing was needed.
The day was long but went by quickly, I tried to meet some of the people that showed up and thank them but I found myself walking in circles not knowing what to say.
I remember holding onto my wife as the day progressed and as the day wore on so did we, we held each other up the best we could and cried silently knowing each others pain.
As the day came to a close (I think it was dark outside) I stood behind the sheer thinking time was running out, I cant leave yet, if I do I will never see her again so please God turn the clock back, if you wont give her back to me the give me more time with her now; PLEASE!
It was time for our final good byes, I sat behind the sheer as I watched my wife go alone to talk with her then it was my turn and again my heart raced as I slowly approach her, I leaned over and held her hand with my right hand as I slowly stroked her hair with my left, I noticed all of the things including the notes the others had placed with her and I thought how come I didn’t do that, do I still have time then I realized I didn’t have to leave her a note because I was going to talk with her every day and night and I hoped she knew that I loved her with all my heart and soul, no note that I could leave her would be good enough because I had so much to say.
I leaned in and gave her a kiss on her forehead then told her I loved her with all my heart.
As I walked away I began to cry and shake not knowing what was going to happen next but I knew that a prayer to God was needed but it would have to come from someone else because God wasn’t listening to me.
When my wife’s Dad stepped up to pray I felt better than I had felt all day because he was a man of God and if he prayed then God would surely listen. We all held hands as a prayer was said and during that pray I couldn’t stop crying, was this it? Is this the end?
After the prayer everyone turned to leave and I was approached (I don’t remember who) and I was asked if I would like to stay and see them close the casket, why would I want to see that? If I did that would be to final, I think I thought if they don’t close it then she won’t go away. So I turned and walked with my wife in hand to the front door and from there I don’t remember anything.
Once again I don’t recall the day or time I received the call from the funeral home I just remember the call saying “your daughter is here for pickup”
I thought at that split second that I can go see her now and she’s coming home; we did everything that we were asked of so now we can have her back.
That thought didn’t last long, now we had to go back to that place where they kept her (what gave them the right to keep her, she’s our daughter not yours) When we arrived at the funeral home we were able to park right out front, that felt strange, where was everyone? How come we are all alone?
As we entered the funeral home it was quiet with no one around, we were asked what we wanted and I said to myself “what do me mean, you know why were here” I stumbled as I told her why we were there and she said one moment please.
We sat down together and waited for her to return; as she entered the room I saw her carrying a wood box with a plaque someone had dropped off for us.
She set the wood box down in front of us and I stared at this wood box thinking is this all that is left of my daughter, is this what I get for all I had done, we raised a beautiful girl and we did everything right, we loved her, protected her, we gave everything we could to her and this is what we get; this is so wrong its so unfair.
Then she produced a yellow envelope and from that she pulled a piece of paper from it, she laid it on the desk face up and facing toward me and slid it to me saying “This is her Death certificate” What do you mean?
I needed to show her my I.D. to take my daughters ashes with me, how strange that I have to show someone my I.D. to take my daughter anywhere after all she’s mine.
I carried that wood box to the car following my wife; I was carrying that wood box like it was made of glass watching every step my feet would make all the way to the car.
My wife opened the passenger door and got in and I slowly and carefully placed this wood box on my wife’s lap, closed the door and climbed behind the wheel thinking I can now bring her home for good.
From the moment, that split second in my life when my wife came out on our back deck and said Danielle might be dead I have lived in pain, a deep down endless pain that will never go away, if I took all of the pain in my life (all of the physical & emotional pain)
And it was placed on me all at once it would never equal this pain.
I never knew that I could love someone so much that I would hurt this bad, I fear life now, I don’t want to feel that pain again from another loss because I love my wife and kids that much.
The day I learned that Danielle had died I found myself alone in the bedroom and I fell to my knees crying to God asking could he please take me and give Danielle back.
You may ask yourself what good would that do you if God gave her back and took you, you wouldn’t be around to enjoy her. But I lived a long trying life, we have struggled for what we have and my wife and kids are my world and its my job as a husband and father to protect them and make sure they are happy in life, if God would give Danielle back then she could have the life she was meant to have and at the same time have my wife and kids smile again.
A couple of days after her death I said I wish we could fast forward a year then I said just said six months would do then maybe the pain I was feeling wouldn’t be so bad but its been longer than six months and almost a year and the pain didn’t get any better it just gets worse.
As most of you know Danielle was murdered that night with drugs so from day one there has been an ongoing police investigation, we have met with the investigators on several occasions to see where they are at (a 1 ½ hour drive each way).
We have attended multiple court dates for the two charged (1 ½ hour drive each way)
And the trials for both are now set in late Jan. of 2008, more than a year from her death.
This causes many sleepless nights due to the unknown in both of their cases, we only know parts of that night, only what the detectives have told us or the Prosecutor handling the cases, there have been times when the news knew more than us.
We have tried to find out what happened to her that night but we may have to wait for the trials to hear the truth according to the ones that were there the night she died, we will probably never know the whole truth so from what I know I have to piece together her last night in my mind, as she was getting sicker and sicker and couldn’t walk or talk did she try? Did she scream out in her mind for her Mom or Dad to please come and help me? Did she cry and no one cared or no one paid attention to her? How much pain did she go through? These are just a few of the questions that go through my mind all day long.
I requested a copy of the autopsy report and received a complete report and now I wish I never read it, for those of you who have never read one, don’t if its about a loved one; an autopsy report details everything that the Medical Examiner does to a body to find the cause of death.
That report and the picture of my daughter that I saw in my driveway will forever haunt me, but she was my daughter, my little girl, the one I dreamed about having when I was young, I love all of my children and would die myself for them, I just wish I could have done that for Danielle.
This list is just what I can remember I’m sure many things happened that I will learn in time. Our lives will never be the same, I feel hollow inside and not much matters any more.
I do know who was there for us in our time of need and those who are still with us helping us still to get through day by day. I thank each and every one of them.
This is just a small sampling of what you can expect when someone you love deeply is taken from you in a blink of an eye, I could go on but I can't see through the tears.