How could it happen...we are all so young.

Andrea Froio

When I was 9 years old, my father, Rocco Joseph Froio, died. he was 31. I hadn't seen him in 3 years (not by the choice of either one of us), and being as young as I was, I never thought that I would lose him. I was still innocent I guess you could say. Someone decided that they had the right to take the life of my dad. When some people hear of people dying of murder, they think that the person must've done something bad, or wrong. No, that isn't true. sometimes they are simply innocent bystanders. I know.

well, left behind was my mother, my oldest brother, Vince, my other older brother, nick, and myself. we all developed our techniques for coping, and I truly believe that our entire personalities were built around this. Vince became the lost child, nick became the scapegoat, and I tried to be the heroine. my mom remarried to a horrible man by the name of Greg Weitzel. he molested me. after my mother finally divorced him, our family roles began to shift. we became a bit closer, and we didn't rely on our previous positions. we began to become 'alright'. shortly after Greg was out of the picture, my best friend Michael moved in. he had recently been diagnosed with cancer, for the second time in 4 years. this was not a burden to us at all (some might imagine it would've been), in fact, it was a blessing. his constant smile gave us strength and hope. we loved Michael, and we loved taking care of him. he did have a few close run-ins with death during his treatment, but he pulled through. he was in remission about a year and half later. shortly before Greg moved out, both of my brothers began having epileptic seizures. something they had when they were younger, but stopped for many years. we thought that the medicine they began taking got everything under control. still, we were 'alright'. my mom fell almost instantaneously in love with her boss. I was a little skeptical and critical at first, but god must've just blessed her with an angel to help prepare her for the times that lie ahead. his name is john, and he is wonderful too. we are 'alright'. for two years, things were going o.k.

except for Michael moving out, and the random occurrences of an epileptic attack of my brothers, we were ok. Vince had gone to college, nick was becoming a computer nerd, my mom and john were happy in their marriage, and I was making plans for my future (wasn't quite sure of what to do, but certainly hopeful for sunny horizons). on April 21, 1997, my brother nick and I were sitting at home. lazy lazy day. we watched st.elmo's fire, he helped me find a picture of a butterfly for a project I was working on, and I took a bath. I was interested in buying an eagle summit at that time, and he knocked on the door to the bathroom to tell me he was looking up the bluebook value of it on the internet. seconds later, I heard footsteps running down the hall, either to or away from his room. I was not concerned. I was 'alright'. I got out of the bathtub around five. I went to my room, got dressed (I even worried about him walking in my room without knocking first), and went upstairs to his room. his door was locked. I figured he left in a hurry, and locked the door so I couldn't mess with his computer. I watched TV. his girlfriend came over, I told her he must've left for awhile, to come back later. my mom came home; my step-dad was working later. we watched TV. his girlfriend came back, even stuck an 'I love you' note under his door. my boyfriend called. he came over, we went to see a movie at around 7:30 or so. still no sign of nick. I thought I was doing fine. I was 'alright'. I came home around 11:00 pm. my stepdad had just gotten home and I asked him to break into nick's room so I could check my email. he was fixing a bowl of cereal, and said 'sure'. he was getting ready to anyway, just to make sure he hadn't had a seizure in there. I slowly began to not feel so 'alright'. my mind was filled with a million different thoughts of why he hadn't gotten up yet, why why why why.

something stopped me from going down the hallway to my brothers room with john (forgot to mention that I had tried earlier in the day to break into his room myself, but felt a strong force guiding me not to). I stood at the end, taking small peeks down the hall while john worked his way in. cereal bowl in hand. he got in, and my brother suddenly filled my head, my heart, and my soul. he said " I am not here anymore, I have gone, I am dead, I have died". I quietly said 'john', and john said 'stay out of here'. I ran to the front room and sat with my boyfriend. I began rocking back and forth saying 'he's dead, he's dead, he's dead'. well, he thought I had lost my mind, and he tried to reassure me that he wasn't dead. he decided I needed to sit on the front porch for fresh air. on the way out, john walked into the family room, I to the front door, we looked each other in the face, and he sat down the bowl of cereal on the edge of the table. I sat down on the front step, tried to calm myself from this horrible dream, and heard the horrible scream of my mother. Jeremy and I immediately got up and ran. I don't know what shock is really, but I am convinced that I must've been in it. I couldn't stand, my body was shutting down, and all I could think to do was run and pray. I managed to do both. I was two houses away from my own when I saw the ambulance come. I continued to run. I ran to my brothers best friends house, his name is nick too, and busted through the front door. his mother came around the corner, and asked me what was wrong, I said 'something is wrong with nick', she said ' my nick?', I said 'no my nick', ' did he have a seizure', ' no, he's dead'. I recall now the horror in my voice, and the franticness of my existence. I remember his mom going to my house to make sure that was what had happened, came back, called her nick home, and I told him in a gutwrenching scream, "HE DIED!!!!". his girlfriend was summoned. I started smoking again. my boyfriend called his mom to tell her, she prayed. at some point in the night, I ended up at my stepdad's mothers. john's best friend picked up Vince from Purdue university. when he got to john's mom, I greeted him with a hug. never do I recall doing this before. we were not 'alright'. my grandparents were all on their way, and none of his friends, but nick and Melissa, knew what had happened. the next day, I came back to Noblesville, to the living nick's house (which is only 5 houses from my own), and I was greeted with a yard full of mourning friends. as I stepped out of the car, you'd think I was someone special, all the hugs and kisses I got. every new face I saw was just a million memories gushing in my head, and a new ocean of tears spewed onto the ground. I played no role in the funeral preparations (until we picked out the headstone anyway), and all I could do was laugh or cry. there was no middle ground. it was an open casket funeral. it took me a good half-hour to go in. I kept myself together pretty well during the services. at the end, when everyone had to make their final walk-through, I lost it. to this day, people will tell me all they can remember is the sound of me moaning and wailing and crying. I have never cried so hard before in my life. I couldn't stand seeing all those people (there were about 400) having to say good-bye, and not having been able to be prepared for it. I never knew just how loved he was until that exact moment. since then, my mind has been consumed with constant worrying and fear of the future and the well being of the people I love so deeply. I AM NOT 'ALRIGHT'. he was 19. I miss him, and my dad. and Michael misses him. and Vince, and mom, and Melissa, and John, and Vana, and Lori, and Nick, and David, and Bob, and Kristin, etc......all of us... we are not 'alright'. I don't know how I've made it from then to now, but here I am. here we are.

Michael moved to Kansas city. he came back a little later on. he didn't feel good at all. he went back to Kansas. got really sick, couldn't walk. came back for tests. he had cancer again. he had terminal cancer. he moved back . stayed with us until he pain was too bad. went to his grandmas. he tried lots of things to prolong his life. we will never know if they worked. maybe so, maybe not. he was dying. he was really bad for awhile, suddenly got better, and then plummeted again. soon, he was bedridden. he couldn't walk. he was in sooooo much pain. we were all helpless. I watched Michael die. never accepting that that was what was going on. I thought if I did I was close the opportunity of god giving us a miracle. but nonetheless, I watched him die in that bed. always smiling. never asking for a thing. I saw him on January 24, 1999. I gave him a kiss as I was leaving, he asked for another, I leaned down, and he playfully pinched my butt. the next night, he had a seizure, and his grandmother took him to the hospital. she knew she couldn't do more for him. the next morning, on January 26, 1999, he died. he had a seizure too. Michael was 21. we never got a chance to learn how to be 'alright' again. I am still not 'alright'.

I am in a constant battle between missing these men sooo much, and looking at the 'bright side'. I wrote the eulogy for nick, and I spoke at Michael's funeral. this all caught up with me, and I thought I was losing my mind. truly. I thought I was going crazy. I am in intensive therapy now, and I am working through this. I learned that I need massive amounts of support. so, I gave up a lot to make time for it all. I am doing better, even though I don't feel like I am. I read somewhere that the average person loses someone very close to them every 9-13 years. in 9 years I have lost these 3, along with some others. and I am only 19. I should've only had 1 death so far. where is my break? god found me about a month and a half ago. he knew I needed him. statistics are stupid. all I know is that there is a way to deal with grief (and I am learning how), but there is not a way to deal with missing them, or wanting them back. there is a difference, though people that haven't been there, possibly won't understand. I need you, and you need me. maybe this is our purpose, to find each other. I wrote this to share their stories. I could tell you how wonderful they all were, but you still wouldn't know. And knowing that someone took the time to write 2,150 words or so about them, will help you understand just how loved they are.

God bless you all. NEVER GIVE UP.

Andrea Froio

You can send email to Andrea at: [email protected]
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anniversary date
date of post 3-15-99

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW