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A Chain of EventsMichelle ParzuchowskiSubmitted inPartial Fulfillment of the Requirements for a Degree in WritingCreativeMay 103, 2011Instructor WRT 465/Thesis Advisor: Prof. Anne WitkavitchAbstractThis is a collection of four personal essays that outline my adult years. The essays reference back to when I was younger to reflect how I was raised, my morals and our family style. Each essay was a turning point in my life when I had to make a choice or a decision about an event. Determination, courage, faith, love, and respect flow through each story as it does through me. Table of ContentsI. A Little Secret: During my busy life attending college full-time, working as a preschool teacher, and living on my own, I became pregnant and had to decide whether to keep the pregnancy or terminate it.II. A Sister: Be careful on what you wish for because it may come true. God granted me a little sister and I found out that it was more than I could handle. There are no give backsgivebacks with childrenwhen a child is born.III. Bernice: Our family dog injured her spine; she became paralyzed from the waist down. After being told she would never heal, my family had to decide whether to have her live in misery or take her out of misery. IV. Will You Marry Me?Get To The Proposal: Not even a car crash was going to take away my birthday weekend getaway. But my boyfriend had bigger plans, and he was determined to make it happen. A Little SecretOn some days, I wanted my old life back and wished?I had never become pregnant. ?On other days, I wanted to have the baby.?This, I thought, was my chance to have a family. Maybe the pregnancy happened for a reason. Everything happens for a reason, right?In April?2008, soon after my 21st birthday,?my boyfriend?of three years, Dan,?and I moved into a house in Danbury,?Connecticut. This was the first time I had ever?left home. I had lived in the same little brown house on a dirt road in nearby?Roxbury?my whole life.My parent's house has three bedrooms. My mom and dad share the far left master. My brother, Kevin, who is a year-and-a-half younger than me, had?the far right, back corner. I used to share shared?the far right, front bedroom with my sister, Nikki, who is six years younger?than me. The house was built by my parents on three acres of land. A detached two-car garage is to the left of the home where my father runs the landscaping business started by my grandfather, Ron, 25 years ago. Ron left the business to my father after his death.When I moved into my new house?it, too, had three bedrooms.?I?was working?full-time as?a preschool teacher and attending?night classes?part-time?at Western Connecticut State University. I desperately wanted to be an elementary school teacher, a dream of?mine?for many years.With me moving out of my parents’ home, nothing could be more exciting?or expensive!.I loved my?childhood?home in the woods, but there’s something different about living in?a city like?Danbury, only a few blocks from the highway. It took some getting?used to.?I found it?difficult listening to all the cars and trucks that drove past the house late at night,?making?so much?noise.A few months later, in August,?it was time for my annual physical, which was?required by work. I told my physician I no longer liked coffee, my?favorite drink. I also told him?my appetite was funny and all I wanted to do was?sit?down. I didn’t think much of this, but my doctor advised?me to take a?pregnancy test, t just?to be on the safe side. Although I highly doubted I was pregnant, I followed his instructions. Anyway, my plans were to finish school, get married, buy a?house, and then have kids at age 26. That was the plan, nothing else.I had been?on a birth control since I turned 18.?A few times I had skipped a month's worth because?I thought,?“How could I possibly get pregnant if I’ve been on?the pill?for three years?”That adds up to a lot of pills.?Even though I’d missed a month?here and there?when?I couldn’t afford?the pharmacy bill,?nothing?had?ever happened.?Not yet.?Thank God for that.?If?it hadn’t happened by now, it wasn’t going to happen at all.On my way back to work, I grabbed a pregnancy test at?the?drug store. This was not the first time I had?done this.?“When in doubt, grab a test”?was my motto. Some?said?I was paranoid. Before clocking back into work, I peed on the?stick in the bathroom next to my office.?Since I was?only two weeks late,?like always, I threw the stick into my purse, washed my hands, and then took a quick look at it.?I only had to read the?two lines. I was pregnant. My first reaction was, “I want it gone. Get it out of me.” I hyperventilated trying to hold back the tears. ?. I immediately ran out to my car and called my boyfriend, Dan, but he never picked up. Not wanting to make the next call, I had to talk to my mother; , anyone before having a meltdown.. I remember my mom’s exact words after I said:“I’m pregnant.” I told her. I remember my mom’s exact words“You’re what?” My momshe said.My mother was shocked. My momShe also said something I never thought my mother would say.“Michelle, I know this is unexpected and something you were not planning on, but it’s your body, yours and Dan’s child, your life. Talk to him and let me know tonight how things turned turn out.”?I was puzzled and confused by my mother’s words. This was not the reaction I expected from my mom. “It almost put me at ease, hearing her say it like that. It didn’t make me feel guilty. After talking to my mom, I felt well enough to go back inside and wait for the kids to wake from their naps.”The real shocker didn’t come till until that night when I got home from work and met with Dan in our bedroom. He sat there patiently waiting for me on the?bed with his phone in his hands.“I got your message,” he said.I burst into tears, ran to the bed, and fell into his arms.“It’s okOK, we’ll get through this.” He was calm, too. I thought he was going to be a wreck and yell and say the word abortion, but he didn’t.“Michelle, I love you. Whatever you decide, I’ll be right there with you. The hardest thing will be telling my family if we keep it. But you know we will have all the support in the world,” and he kissed me.When returning to work from a long weekend, I enjoyed dressing in my work uniform that consisted of jeans, a scrub smock, and sneakers. All teachers were required to wear something similar to this attire. On the weekends, I dressed in more appropriate clothing for my age, such as a nice dark washed pair of jeans, a fashionable shirt from H&M, and a pair of Old Navy flip-flops.While I was pregnant, I noticed every little comment that had to do with pregnancy or a baby, no matter where I was. To a point, this freaked me out. I thought everyone knew my secret. A couple weeks into?my pregnancy?I became more tired. I wanted nothing more than to sit down, which I did often during recess at the preschool. Normally I would run around with the children, age’s three to five. My co-workers noticed my change in behavior,“Michelle, how come you’re always sitting down??You feel okOK?” An older woman said who has children of her own.“Yeah I’m fine. Just tired,” I would reply“You’re not pregnant are you?”I looked behind me to see if anyone was around us that could possibly be listening to the conversation.“Oh my God. No.?I am only 21, and I am not even married yet.,” I looked away knowing that was a full blow-out lie.“Oh come on Michelle. There are worse things out there than being pregnant. I had my first child when I was 18 then got married and had more children. When the kids got older, I went back to school,” said Liz, the older woman with children.I replied with guilt, “I guess.”I knew that there was still a slight chance that the home test could be wrong. But there was a strong possibility the test was right too. I couldn’t say anything to anyone before I knew for sure. And even if it was for real, would I say anything to anyone outside of my family or closest friends??“Would they think differently of me if I saidsaid, “ yes, I am pregnant but don’t know if I’m keeping it?” ? So I kept my mouth shut.”A few days later, I made an appointment with my OB-GYN for a professional pregnancy test and to see how far along I was. My doctor told me I was six weeks pregnant.I had a hunch, ; it wasn’t a shocker. There were small jokes made around?the house about “having a bun in the oven.” It was cute,?and Dan really?got into the whole thing.”.A part of Dan really wanted this child, thought it would be special. But after I talked to Dan and my mother, the decision was clear; I had no right raising a child at this point in my life. I was living on my own, almost paycheck to paycheck. I assumed I would have to quit school because of money issues. Dan knew he would not be able to support the whole family on his income as an electrician and that made him feel horrible. This was not the type of father Dan wanted to be, a father who could not support his child and girlfriend.Even if Dan doesn’t admit it, he’s traditional. He wants the satisfaction of knowing he could support his family. He knew that there was no extra money for a baby. He wanted me to finish school, something that I have been working on for a while.I talked to my dad only once about the subject. “Michelle, this could be my grandchild. I could be a grandpa. Your mother and I could be grandparents,” he said. My dad never thought this kind of thing would ever happen to them or us, or that?this kind?of situation would happen in our family but it did. My brother and sister never found out about it. To this day, I still haven’t said anything to my sister; I have no idea what she would think. I was raised by two parents who taught their children everything they knew?about the world. I was taught by my dad about “the meaning of a dollar” at an early age.?My mother raised me to finish what I started. Nothing was handed to me on a silver platter; I worked hard. Everything I had was earned from hard work. I started working the day after my 16th?birthday, paid for my own car and I continued to pay my way through school.A week later, after much discussion, Dan and I went to the clinic for their consultation. We were not the only couples instructed to see a psychologist before we could go through with the abortion. The counseling is mandatory for all ages, race, and even men if they wish to sit alongside their partner during the procedure.While I read the forms I had to sign, a nurse from Medical Options said, “This is an attempt to investigate factors related to the choice in the decision to terminate a pregnancy.” It was nice to have someone’s thought and opinion other than your parents on the situation. This was a big deal for me; my first time being pregnant with the man I love who I want to marry. I could throw it all away just to do it all over again another time.?I was confused and found comfort in talking to the nurse at the clinic.I knew little on the subject of abortion. I researched abortion the subject of abortion after my consultation with the nurse. I found out that younger adolescents are more caught up in the fantasy aspects of pregnancy and less likely to consider the financial and emotional?commitments of motherhood, as well as a host of other related responsibilities. Older women were more likely to consult an outside professional for advice and to be more concerned about the economics of the pregnancy and its effect on their own lives“Most decisions are based on the woman’s or the couple’s financial status if they are older than 20 years oldof age. If the woman or couples are younger than 20 years of age, the decision is based on a parent’s instruction or influence of friends,” said the nurse. I could relate to the facts my nurse was telling me. We were both over 20 years old and it made sense.At eight weeks pregnant, I went to the clinic at 6:30 a.m. with Dan, who drove, as it was doctor’s orders. The procedure was done on a Saturday; this would make it easier for me to return to the preschool on Monday without discomfort. The abortion room was just like an OB-GYN room, but with more people. Dan sat on a stool next to me and held my hand while the doctor stuck me with a needle in the right arm. It wasn’t the type of medicine that knocks you out. It makes you foggy and forgetful. I was able to hold a full conversation during the procedure but unable to recall what it was about. I had no memory of pain but my boyfriend noticed an expression of discomfort on my face during the whole event. For an hour after the procedure, I cried a lot due to a drop in hormones. When I was ready, the nurse told me I was clear to leave.When leaving the clinic, the nurse gave Dan a small list of things to get?before going home. Dan went to the store and for the first time ever bought Kotex pads. He also bought flowers to make me feel better.I have no regrets about the decision I made. My due date was March 2, 2009. During that time both Dan and I lost our jobs for a few months due to the economy. I ended up moving back home to my parents’ little brown house and Dan got a small apartment for himself near my parents’ home in New Milford. We now use condoms with birth control in the hope that I don’t end up pregnant until the time is right. Since then, I’ve not pulled that kind of stunt, skipping a month here and there just because I didn’t want to spend the money. How foolish I was. I now use a birth control that is inserted?vaginally?every three weeks called Neuva?Ring. “We both technically use the birth control.” ,” Dan said. Dan and I have been together for five and a half years. We are engaged and have a wedding set for 2013. Before I became pregnant, we bought a small dog, a Boston?terrier?named Lucy. Lucy is now three years old. This is our child, our four-legged daughter who gives us nothing but unconditional love all the time. In?September of 2010 we had an addition to the family, another Boston?terrier?that is four months old. We named him Rocco.I wouldn’t have changed anything. Like I said, everything happens for a reason.A Sister I was seven years old when my parents gave me a toy box for Christmas.It was made of pine and unfinished wood. When the lid closed, it could be used as a bench. This toy box was where I would put all my Barbie dolls, Polly Pockets, My Little Ponys, and Pound Puppies when I was little. I treasured this toy box. It was the only item on my Christmas list that year—until she was born and ruined it, ruined everything of mine.This “she” I’m writing about was my little sister, Nichole. At three years old, she discovered the wonders of Crayola. I came home from school one day and found her doodling and stamping my toy box with my own markers. I was 10 at the time, and we were seven years apart. At the sight of this mess, I screamed for my mom. My mother took her away and left me alone with my defaced and graffiti toy box. There it sat, with blue and purple scribbles right down the center of the front panel. I waited for the maker to dry. When it did, I brought up a nail file and sand paper from the basement and tried to take away the unwanted marker. Tears rolled down my face as I sat there scrubbing with all my might. Maybe if the toy box waswere finished with a stain, this would be easier to take off.I felt a little tap on my shoulder, . “Watcha doin?” she asked in a soft voice. How did she not know what I was doing?“Trying to take away the marker spots you put here,” I said, trying to be nice and not yell.She replied in her innocent voice, “Can?I help?”Help! Was she nuts? “No, now go away.”I could sense that her little face became sad, but I didn’t care. Mom called her back to the other room where she would be safe and contained. Nichole ruined it. She ruined my toy box.To this day, there are still blue and purple marker stains on the toy box. They are set deep within the grain of the wood and impossible to take away without destroying the entire box.I was fifteen 15 years old when I became conscientious of my looks. It took me two years to convince my mother to get me foundation, mascara, eye shadow and lip gloss. I wanted the foundation for the birthmark on my forehead; I didn’t like how it got so pink at times and wanted to cover it up. I thought maybe blue eye shadow would look cool and I was never fond of my short eyelashes. I imagined they would be more attractive with mascara, like my mom’s. After much compromise and discussion with my mom, I got my make-up. I kept these items in a clear box covered in pink polka dots. I was so proud of my all make-up. I kept it on my dresser right by the mirror—until my sister found it.Nichole was only eight when she discovered what make-up was. This?time, I was home and it was time to eat lunch. Mom made tuna fish sandwiches with pickles and chips on the side. We both called for her but she never answered. She was quiet too quiet. – I ran to our room. I walked in. She jumped up. I asked, “Nichole, what are you doing?”“Nothing,” she replied, frozen in place but unable to turnaround.I walked up to her and looked at what she was doing. She had caked on my make-up so thick that she looked like a Barbie pretending to be a clown. I screamed for my mom. My mother came up and yelled her name. But this time, she got the middle name, too—Nichole Jean. She was in trouble. A part of me was satisfied. But the other half couldn’t wait untiltill she was old enough for it. I really wanted to play make-up with someone. She is my sister after all. Her twelfth 12th birthday would be the last one I would celebrate with her at home. By now I was 20 and an adult. It was August, and I decorated the dining room and kitchen for her in Scooby-Doo. Scooby was her favorite cartoon character. That spring, I would move into a dorm at school. I received a scholarship that year that would pay for my room and board. I was away at school for a year, and then rented a condo with my boyfriend. We became serious and needed time together before taking the relationship to the next level— marriage. I missed two years of Nichole’s life; they were two very important years, which I found out when I returned home.I realized while I was away that I had I missed out on my sister growing up. Nichole was becoming a young lady. She wasn’t that little child anymore who drove me crazy all the time. I found out more about Nichole through one thing she dealt with. After moving back home at age 22, I wrote my sister a story to help her get through a rough patch in her life - the loss of “her” dog, Bernice.Bernice was a big boned, fuzzy eared, Basset hound- a puppy Nichole picked out all by herself at the pet store. Nichole had a nickname for Bernice, it was Huggy Bear, and to Nichole, and to Nichole it will always be Huggy Bear. Bernice’s life was cut short from a spine injury; as a family, we put her to sleep one day before Valentine’s Day. This left Nichole distraught and heart brokenShe cried and. for For the first time, at age 15, my sister gave me a huge big, warm hug. This was the moment I was waiting for all these years. This is the sister I asked God for during the nine months my mother was pregnant with her. The day my mother told me she was pregnant I was six years old. I thought, ‘ “nine nine months until I have a baby brother or?sister! That?is going to take forever.’ .” And, of course I asked, ‘ “whereWhere?do babies?come from?”?’ My mother and father both looked at each other while the four of us sat on their bed, talking about this life changinglife-changing event.My mom looked at me, “well Michelle, when two people love each other so much, and they are in love with each other, God gives the woman a baby her tummy.”I replied replied “oh.” A couple years after that I never even wanted to think of a boy, or if he was cute, in fear I would get pregnant. My mother neglected to say when it would be possible to have a baby. This would have saved me a lot of worrying at such a young age. I assumed this could happen at any time since all you had to do was be in love with someone. I later learned through elementary school that her tales were not true.After nine months of praying for a baby sister, making promises that were bigger than what I could handle, on August 2, 1994, my wish came true. I had a baby sister. I had a baby sisterA sister to love, to cherish, dress up and teach to about the world.Today, she is my best friend and sister. She is 16 and I am 24. We share clothes, secrets, and a family. We even share a car once a week while I teach her how to drive. After my parents taught my brother, who is one year younger than I, and?myself how t and me how too drive, I was the one who broke the ice with Nichole’s driving. I could recall the moment as if it happened today.Her hands are at ten 10 and two of the wheel. She puts her left turn signal on, and jolts the car with a press of the gas and out on the road we are. I sit in the passenger seat of my car with little control of what happens. It’s up to her to keep us safe, I fear the worst. The double yellow line in the middle of the road does not stay in one place. She swerves. My car comes closer to the white line on the road, I feel like if I put my hand out the window I could touch the brush near the curb. Trees pass my window with a blink of an eye. The car is only going 30 mph. Two cars pass us that are coming from the other direction. We’ve only driven 20 feet. I?grab the wheel of my car, redirecting it from the curb that I don’t want her to hit. The sweat drips down my back, my heart races, and I still let her drive. If I don’t teach her, who will?Since then, she has become a better driver. and I now can relax now. . She?drives?though Roxbury, New Milford, Brookfieldand Brookfield and still attempting attempts Danbury. After about an hour of driving lessons, we go out to to lunch. Sometimes, if she has the extra money from pet sitting, she’ll treat. I have not had to yell “Mom,” ” since I was 15 years old. After I moved out and then moved back home, I noticed she had grew grown up and- I missed it. Maybe it was for the better. since I’ve now gained the sister relationship that I dreamt of 16 years ago. BerniceHer wheelchair still sits in our basement with a little bumper sticker my sister made; it reads “Huggy?Bear.” That was the nickname she gave Bernice. It fit rather well. She loved to cuddle and had the same coloring as a bear, along with being very big boned. She was a veryn energetic Bassett Hound; my sister’s favorite out of all the dogs we ever owned. ?My dad even dedicated the song “She’s a?brick house” to her., Wwe enjoyed that.The years passed us by as if everything was okayOK. My family would bake a bone on her birthdays as a treat for turning one year older. Mom would make us a cake and my sister would play with?Bernice’s ears while she would sleep on her back in the sun.“They felt like velvet. The inside of her ears are softer thaen the outside.” Nikki would say.Bernice was our watch dog, always on the lookout. Unlike Scout, the Beagle, who slept with my parents, Bernice slept on her?temperpedic?bed in the living room. Bernice needed to be the protector. My parents tried to bring her to bed to have her feel part of the family. But during the night she would get up and put herself to sleep on the couch 20 feet from the front door. She was happy having it that way, to protect her family, to be needed.??????????After many wonderful years, Bernice became quite sick very quickly. The sickness required round –-the-clock care and treatment. You would think that this type of care would be for someone or something old: a creature that lived their life to the fullest. Bernice was only six years old, or forty four44 in dog years, half her potential age. She kept Scout who was eight years old company. ?. But that all changed, leaving the beagle and us, empty inside.??????????Around three a.m., in early January, Bernice woke the whole house us up, crying and whimpering. My parent’s alarm clock would go off in a few hours., Sshe was told her to be “quite.” Normally she would stop crying and be taken out soon. Instead Bernice continued to howl. My dad became annoyed, rolled out of bed and assumed she needed to go outside to do her business. He went down stairs, went to get her and her leash, but noticed she didn’t move. She would usually wiggle and squirm from?excitement until as he approached. My dad stood by the front door and called her name; a command to come to him. Only half her body wiggled. He called her name again. She wiggled harder but did not move off her bed.“What’s wrong,?Huggy?” hHe asked as he walked towards her. He picked her up off her bed. She hung in his arms. Something was wrong. ??????????“Lin!” My dad shouted to my mom who was already half way down the stairs. My sister followed only feet behind. ??????????They stood there in shock. They stared at my dad with Bernice limp in his arms. When he put her down, she could not stand or walk. Her back legs were limp. She moved like a seal, dragging her lower body behind her. My sister started to cry not knowing what was happening to "‘her"’ dog. My dad picked her back up. Her cries seemed to be soothed by the warmth of his embrace so w. We sat with her untill morning to keep her clam. My sister could not go back to sleep after this., Sshe us made a pot of coffee in the kitchen. ?Around 6 a.m., my mom called the vet using the emergency line and made an appointment to get her examined. It took both my mom and sister to carry her in. She was not a light dog, but very slim and fit for her breed. The veterinarian, Dr.?Elwell, let them in and placed her on the examination table. After taking a close look at her, he gathered his words carefully and gave my mom the news.??????????“Linda,” Dr.?Elwell?said softly.??????????“Bernice’s spine is damaged.” My mother face went from worried to?heartbroken.??????????My mother responded with tears streaming., “You mean she’s paralyzed from the waist down?”??????????He explained in a soft, sympathetic tone, “It was likely from hitting her back on something, or trying to jump onto the couch.”??????????Dr.?Elwell?gave a bottle of steroids to my mom. This was to help with the pain in Bernice’s back; but every medication comes with side effects. My mother was given hope that this was only temporary, that her spine would heal on its own.??????????My parents considered getting pet insurance to help cover the vet bills, but everyone we spoke with said we would have to already have the pet insurance in order for it to cover her injury. This was called a pre-condition, an accident that has already happened. If my family had pet insurance for Bernice before she had injured her back, ninety 90 percent of all the vet visits, prescriptions and anything else we needed would be covered. We would be covered up to $14,000 dollars. But it was too late.??????????A year went by with no improvement to her back. My parents had ordered a custom-made wheel chair made for Bernice. This ended up costing my parents $450. It was a lot of money, but it was worth having Bernice keep some of her independence. With this wheel chair, she could move around the house without anyone’s help. For a few hours during the day, on and off, she would be taken out of the wheel-chair so she could lie down and rest her body. Her doses of?steroids were increased during the year as well. But with the increased medication, there came side effects, the ones. The side effects Dr.?Elwell?warned my mother aboutof.Bernice had to drink a lot of water with these pills. But since she was paralyzed, she couldn’t feel herself urinating or even the urge to. She was taken outside like a new puppy every half hour. My dad even built a ramp off our front porch for her to make it easier to get down the stairs. This ramp was constructed from large beams that outlined our gardens on the side of the house. He dug them up with the tractor, pulled out the railroad nails that held the boards together and then cut them to fit on our front porch. As a safety precaution, he stuck stripes of grip tape on the ramp so she wouldn’t slip. Whoever took her outside would have to use a rolled up towel, like a sling, to hold her back end up while she would walk with her front legs. Bernice mentally knew that when we took her outside, she was to go to the bathroom;, but it didn’t always work. If she were to have an accident in the house, she would try to clean it up herself . She would do this by hiding it under a blanket or eating it. She was embarrassed and ashamed she couldn’t hold it. She could not stand staying dirty and waiting untill we cleaned her up.??????????In February of 2009, when my mom and sister brought Bernice to the vet for another check-up, Dr.?Elwell?told my mom and sister that Bernice wasn’t going to get any better. By now the drug intake was maxed out. But without them, she would be more miserable then she already was. Our only other option was?surgery. The cost of back surgery would range from five thousand$5,000 to ten thousand dollars$10,000. The chances of her making it through the surgery or it changing her condition were very slim. Even though my parent’s hearts were in the right place, of asking about it, the money just wasn’t.??????????Because Bernice needed care around the clock, my parents were exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. No one knew when she would howl during the night, or be up for the day. My mom and dad took turns taking her out during the night, almost like feeding for an infant. They would also take turns on who was going to take her out before bed and then in the morning. Neither my dad nor my mom did both the night and morning shift, they shared the responsibilities.The vet bills and prescriptions were getting expensive and Bernice was not happy with herself. Over the past year, she lost weight from not wanting to eat; her weight was much less then healthy. The large “Huggy” bear we loved was withering away. Her ears looked 10ten times biggerlarger than her head. We all knew she was big boned, but never thought her bones would become her main physical feature. “Her velvet ears are not soft anymore,” mMy sister would say to my mom. We all knew what was happening and we had no way of making it any better.My parents were running out of options. They needed advice and turned to Dr.?Elwell?at the vet. He spoke with my parents about the other option. An option the family would all need to agree upon.My mother and sister came home with tears streaming down their face‘s, my mom?explained what the vet suggested we do. We thought about it for a few days, wondering if it was the right thing to do. Wonderingand if we had done all that was possible without leaving us in debt. But we also wanted to do what was right for Berniceher. After one year and one month of giving our undivided attention?and love toto Bernice, it was decided to put her down. This was a hard pill to swallow for my sister. She didn’t want to give up “her” dog. But after explaining all that we have gone through, she came to understand that keeping Bernice around when she was miserable would be selfish.??????????On February 13,th?2009, one day before Valentine’s Day, Bernice was taken out of her misery. Our beagle sat at the window for days waiting for her to come back, he had no idea what had happened. All he knew was that there was no one to play with any more. Bernice’s collar was placed in our cabinet hutch as a physical memory after the last vet visit, one from which only my parents and sister returnedwhere only my parents and sister had come back from. I did not participate. Pictures still sit around the house. That was a horrible day no one in family will ever forget, especially my sister. ?A day we wonder if we still did the right thing.??????????A few years went by without having Bernice in the home. It was not the same. Scout became lonely and depressed. He no longer ran around the house after he got his lunch time cookie or played with his favorite toys. Before Bernice was put down, Scout’s ears were always perky. It now looked as if he was throwing in the towel; his body was starting to give way. Being the?concerned mother my mom is, she brought Scout to the vet. Dr.?Elwell?broke more bad news to my mother.????????? “He is aging more quickly now that he’s alone. He needs a companion. He won’t last long in this condition.” This was a hard pill for my mom to swallow. She had no intention in raising a puppy again; but she didn’t want to lose another four-legged family member either. But that soon changed thanks to my sister’s perfect plan.??????????It is a ritual to stop in The Pet Company at the mall before ending our shopping experience. It was a Saturday afternoon when we broke the rule (my mother’s rule) and walked in. Nikki and I scanned the?plexie?glass enclosed cadges. We both stopped in front of one cadge. He was a male Beagle, tan and white coloring only and four months old. He was marked down for a father’s days special. I quickly whipped out my?iphone, took some pictures and pressed send.??????????“Chelle!?You didn’t!” Nikki said in shock.??????????“Oh yes I did. I sent them to mom and dad. Now let’s go see mom at work and hear what she thinks!”??????????I drove to my mother’s hair salon only minutes away and showed her the pictures of the puppy. She could not believe what we had done.??????????The visit ended with my mother saying, “I don’t know?Chelle, I can’t raise another puppy.”??????????I dropped my sister back off at home and continued on with my day. Later that night, when I arrived home, I was the one who was now in shock. There he?was, that little tan and white beagle I saw in the pet store, now running around the kitchen like a maniac! I immediately turned to my mom.??????????“I thought you said you didn’t want another puppy. ? What happened to adopting from the pound?”My mother looked at me in with a guilty but pleased expression., “Ask your father.”??????????I turned to my dad who had a the bigger, bigger, guiltiery look, on his face. “Dad, what happened? You got the puppy?”??????????My dad picked him up, “He’s so cute.” He didn’t say anymore.??????????“Dad knew we were going to get him., Hhe brought the leash and credit card with him when we went to go look at him!” mMy sister said in a shocked but happy voice.??????????All four of us stood there in amazement of the new puppy and Scout. For the first time in two years, Scout was running around and barking. His tale was curled up in a full circle, his ears were perked up and he shoved every toy he could find at his new friend, ones, which he had not touch in years, in front of the puppy. Two days later, that puppy was named RustyNikki named the puppy Rusty. One month later, Scout was back to normal health, better than ever.??????????Rusty filled the void in our hearts and made it easier to get through a tough time. Nikki now considers Rusty as her dog too; she helped raise him during the summer while school was out. When you look at him and say “Nikki,”?he turns his head and runs to the window to look for her. Will You Marry Me?Get To The Proposal??????????? This was supposed to my weekend. No one else‘s. No one was going to take it away from me, no matter how hard they tried. This weekend was mine, to celebrate my birthday with my boyfriend and friends. We were all supposed to leave for Mohegan by 2:00 p.m. It was Ryan and I that were to drive up, not Gene and Ryan, . I felt so bad having them take my responsibility. They are great friends for helping me out. But I was not going to let that stupid bitch take this away from me.???????????? I put myself to bed after a hot bath and a long Sunday. There I was, all alone in that hotel room, my boyfriend Dan, got for me. I told Dan to go have fun and not to worry. I would be OKok until he came back. I closed my eyes and tried to go to sleep, but the images flashed back as if it were happening all over again.???????????? It was Sunday afternoon, about 12:45 p.m. to be more exact. I just finished having lunch with my girlfriend, Emma, before accidentally meeting up with Dan. I drove from Ponchos and Gringos to the BP gas station up the road. Just as the pump clicked to signal the tank was full, a whole $40 worth, I heard a loud honk across the street. I turned my head and saw him. I smiled and knew I had to see to him.??????????? I drove over and pulled right next to his white car in the Mobil parking lot.??????????? "Hey babe! What are you doing here?" I asked in complete joy and shock.??????????? "Nothin', me and James are just grabbing some lunch." He was chomping away on what I think was a chicken cordon blue grinder.??????????? "Interesting. What else do you have planned for today?" This tended to be a routine question I ask almost every day.??????????? "Just errands. I need to bring James to the bank, and other stuff." I could tell he was in a good mood.??????????? "Alright babe, I am just going to Firestone to get my tires rotated and balanced before we leave today. I'll see you in about an hour and a half back at the apartment." I leaned through the car window and kissed him good bye.??????????? "Love you," he said.??????????? "Love you too," I drove off, counting down the time. It was 1p.m. One hour to go.??????????? I thought of everything we could do this weekend- -going out to a nice dinner, just Dan and me, playing roulette and drinking my wine. Later that night, I would take advantage of the huge bathtub and shower in our suite, either by myself or with Dan next to me. The photos of it were amazing.????????????I turned my radio on. Most of my stuff was already packed in my bag by the front door. I still needed to put in the bottle of wine Ryan gave me, as well as a hair brush, the camera and the battery I left charging next to it. I didn't put anything of Rocco's together for the neighbor before. Oops! Dan will have to do that while I am at Firestone. Almost there, it's 1:05 p.m. Sweet.? . Green light. That’s the second one in a row.??????????? I approached the four-way intersection near the police station., Ttraffic was stopped on both the left and right roads- -they had a red light. There were no cars in front of me, no cars coming at me. ?. I was about 20 feet from the painted white line on my side of the road in the intersection. I continued to look straight ahead down the road. I saw something in blue in my peripheral vision. I looked to my left. I was passed the "stop here on red" sign on my right.????????????Why is she there? Why is that blue SUV still moving? Traffic on the right road isn't moving. They have a red light. Just like her. Maybe she's running a red light to turn left. Ok, I'll slow down. No. Wait. She's not turning left. What the fuck? Why is she in the middle of the intersection? She needs to move. Oh my God. I am going to hit her. Please, Lord, no. Not another accident. I can't afford this. What is my mother going to think? Last spring cost me a $1,000, I can't do this again. The car was in the shop a week. Oh my God, no. Wait. I’m driving up to Mohegan, what am I going to do? Crap. Oh come on. She's only a foot in front of me. I am not slowing down. I’m doomed.??????????? I focus on her passenger side doors as I drive straight into her.??????????? I closed my eyes a second after impact; my hands were still on the steering wheel. I couldn't bear to look any more. I didn’t want to know what was happening. I was too afraid. My screams became buried in the sound of crunching metal, shattering glass, and the bang of the air bag exploding from the wheel only inches in front of my face. I felt my whole body slam up against my window. I still had my eyes closed. My screams turned into cries. My head started to throb. My head hit the driver window. Did I break it? I brought my left hand up to ear and temple to protect it from another blow. I felt my body take another slam; my elbow took the hit. My knees began to burn. Did they get cut off? They hurt so badly. Which side of the car am I on? Am I still sitting in my own seat? Where am I? Is anyone seeing this? What’s happening to my stuff???????????? My car came to a stop.????????????I open my eyes to a blurry foggy world. I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I don't want to burn inside my car. I am too young for this. I have a whole life ahead of me. What about Dan? My dogs, Lucy and Rocco, I can't leave them behind. What are they going to do without me? Poor Dan. My parents, no, I can't. I need to get myself out of here. I won't let that bitch get away with ruining my weekend.??????????? I got myself out of the seat belt that held me captive. I fumbled for the door handle and opened it. I saw grass. Fresh air. Day light. It's bright out. I threw myself out my car, as far as I could. I screamed harder. I heard a cop car pull over and blast on his "whoop whopp" signal. I landed on the cold hard grass.??????????? I sighed in relief. That cop had to have seen what she did.??????????? Why did this happen to me? My light was green. I knew it was. I checked it twice. Why did she run the light? What is everyone going to think when they hear what happened to me? I am in so much trouble. Oh my God my car.??????????? My world is spinning, I feel like I’m on a boat. I grip the ground with my hands. My nails dig into the dirt and leaves. My knees are burning with pain, I can't move them. I lay on my side in the grass on the side of the road crying for help, I can't move my body. My hair covercovereds my face.??????????? I hear a woman's voice. "Oh my God! Oh my God! Are you ok? Honey, you'll be OKk". I felt a hand being place on my back. "You're not bleeding. Me and my husband saw the whole thing happen. Don't worry, the ambulance is coming." I wanted to say please don't leave me. Please stay. I have no idea what's going on. But instead, I buried my face further in my arms that protected me from the dirt.??????????? "Please, get my phone. Call my boyfriend. He needs to know. He's right up the road." My words were muffled in between cries of pain. I can't believe this is happening.??????????? "Honey, where is your phone?" she asked in a voice that was trying to stay calm and confident. I never even looked up to see her face.??????????? "It's in my purse on my passenger seat. His name is Dan. It's in there as Dan The Man. Please call him; he's right up the road. I need him here." I dig my fingers into the ground deeper. I feel like I'm on a carnival ride, spinning out of control. I tried to lift up my head but it was too heavy. I curled my knees into my body. Something was not right.??????????? "I'm sorry but I don’t know how to work these phones." She started to sound panicky.??????????? "Please, you have too." I cried even harder. I could not imagine doing this without him. He is my world. I love him. I need him to say everything will be ok.??????????? "Ok Honey. I called him, he's on his way. Don’t worry, the EMS are is here. Don’t worry honey, you'll be ok." That was the last I heard her voice.??????????? Is there anyone else around me? My head hurts so badly. I feel sick to my stomach. Oh God why does everything hurt? I keep my face buried in the ground. I can't bear to look up around me, let alone was able to. I just want Dan here. I need my boyfriend. I need someone, anyone. Why isn't anyone helping me? Doesn't anyone see me???????????? I hear a man's voice. The leaves I grip begin to move.??????????? "Hey I got you Miss. Do you know where you are?" He cupped his hands around my head.??????????? I knew I was in Brookfield. Is that the answer he wanted? Or did he want to know where I ended up after hitting the other car. Stupid bitch ruined my day.??????????? "I know I'm in Brookfield by Bridgewater Chocolates on Federal Road.," Hhe continues to hold my head with his two hands for support. I tried to look up. My hair blew off to the side. He was dressed in a blue sweat shirt and pants. I think he was an EMS guy.??????????? I looked at my surroundings.??????????? How the hell did I end up on this side of the intersection? I try to turn my head but it feels like a load of bricks. The man's hands held my head in one place. He wouldn't let me look at the other car.??????????? "Once I have you, I cannot let go." He had big hands. "What's your name?"??????????? That's a dumb question, I thought to myself, "Michelle," I responded. "Do you see a white Cavalier yet? The lady called my boyfriend. I need him here. Please let him through if you see him. His name is Dan." I can't stop crying. I put my hands on my knees. Oh my God that hurts.??????????? My loud screams and ear piercing cries started to settle but were far from over. I tried to reach out to the man who was holding my head. I needed to touch someone, anything other than the cold dirt and leafs. I reached out but my aim was off. I heard another man speak to me.??????????? "Ma’am, where is your license?" I looked up through the mess of hair that was covering my face and saw a man dressed in blue. His badge reflected the sunlight. Was he the cop I heard???????????? "It’s in my purse, in a turquoise wallet," I think I was starteding to calm down.??????????? I heard another man come up to my right.??????????? "What's your name again?" The man who is new to my surroundings asked. Why was I being asked these questions? I’m not retarded. I’m conscious. I’m totally alert.??????????? "Michelle Parzuchowski," I said for a second time. I listened to his voice. I recognized that voice.???????????? “Do you know who I am?” tThe man asked.???????????? "Ma’am, here is your phone and your license; I’m putting it in your coat pocket on your left." I felt the officer stuff everything in my pocket. But my phone, Dan, I forgot, where is he? He should have been here by now. "Do you have your insurance card?"??????????? "Wait, you see a white car yet? His name is Dan, he's my boyfriend. Let him through." I started to cry again. In between crying, the man who held my head tried to hold a conversation with me.??????????? "It's in that wallet you had." I told him.??????????? "I did not see it, but don't worry. It's Ok". The officer walked away. I continued to listen to man next who asked if I knew him.??????????? He is not a stranger, I know him. He lives in the same town as I do. His name is Larry Fragomeli. I was his daughter's Girl Scout leader. Her name is Melinda. My sister and Melinda are the same age.??????????? “Fragomeli,” I responded. I looked up to see the familiar face.???????????? “You know, I thought I knew that voice. But thought, it couldn’t be Nikki, she doesn’t have her license yet.” I looked up and smiled.??????????? The man in fr ont of me and Mr. Fragomeli and the man next to ,him, both picked me up and placed me on a stretcher. They called it routine and placed big red blocks around my head. They had me cross my arms on my chest and then they strapped me in. I was lying on a big board flat to the ground. The sun was bright. I could see a long line of traffic on Federal Road. Oops.??????????? "Ma'am, can you tell me what color your traffic light was when you came up to the intersection?" The officer is an older man. I can now see his face. He has white hair.??????????? "It was green". I try to stay positive. I knew I did nothing wrong??????????? "Are you sure? Did it turn green as you got to the intersection? Or was it green before you got there?"??????????? What is he asking? Was this a trick question? I knew he knew the answer already. So then why was he asking? Maybe he was testing me. "It was green at least 20 feet before I got to the intersection and then I saw that blue SUV still moving through the intersection on my left. I couldn't stop in time".??????????? "OKk. I was just checking. Don't worry, you did nothing wrong. Everything will be OKk," the cop smiled and walked away.??????????? The EMS crew raised me off the ground, turned the stretcher around and then shoved me into the ambulance. It was at moment, just before the double doors closed, I saw him. Dan made it through the mess. He came in and held my hand. I knew everything was going to be ok now that I knew I was still alive. Tears streamed down my face. My bottom lip started to quiver. He rubbed my arm and looked at me with such sorrow. He looked as if he almost his best friend, me. His eyes showed confusion, anger and sadness.??????????? "We need to go." Dan stepped out and Mr. Fragomeli slammed the double doors closed. ? I rolled over in bed and saw Dan close the door behind him as he entered the bedroom of our suite. It was 3a.m. He got changed and slipped into bed trying not to wake me. But I already was. I rolled over again and saw him looking right at me, he smiled and I knew I had to kiss him. After spending all day in the ER and taking two hours to get here, I finally was able to lie next to my honey.??????????? The next morning, Dan woke up with a grin across his face. He smiled as he watched me get out of bed. I stepped into the shower and soothed my stiff, aching muscles from the day before. Dan soon joined me. He rubbed my back and tried to make me feel better. After a comforting shower, we both stepped out and dried off. I babbled on about what I wanted to do that day until after five minutes, I froze. Something caught my eye. I stared at the vanity. There it was. A diamond ring. White gold and full of diamonds. It sparkled. The silver box was opened. A hand written note was placed next to it.??????????? "Is that what I think it is? Has that been there the whole time I was talking?" I faced Dan who held me close to, still warm from the shower.??????????? "Yes," he said. I walked over and pick up the note. It read: Babe, I know things have gone all wrong this week but I hope this makes you feel better. Happy birthday sweet heart. I love you. PS- will you marry me???????????? "Yes." I responded. Tears of joy ran down my face. My bottom lip quivered. I couldn't keep my emotions together.??????????? Dan took the ring out of the box and slid it onto my finger. He took me close and kissed me. We stood there with our bodies touching each other. We pulled apart and kissed one more time. We were engaged.??????????? "I wanted to do this yesterday over dinner, or during the concert. But I didn't work out the way I planned." He had that sad look on his face again, as if he were let down.??????????? "Babe, this is perfect. It's intimate and special. I wouldn't have had it any other way".??????????? After getting dressed I paraded my left hand around to our friends who were in the living room waiting in anticipation. "It's about time. We were wondering when it was going to happen!" they said gathering around us.??????????? The six of us checked out and went to breakfast, that is there we celebrated the newly engaged couple of Dan and meI.

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