Christmas is when I miss Charlie the most. Mostly because he got cheated. Cheated out of meeting Sophia. He was anticipating her arrival and received status updates on the progress of her birth. A trial kept him in New York and he couldn’t wait to hang up his traveling suit and snuggle his niece in his arms. Charlie never got to see her smile, hear her laughter or feel her tiny hand in his. Sophia never got to meet the man who dreamed of taking her to Paris and who would have spoiled her beyond her wildest imagination. Charlie died loving the tiny girl he never got to meet.
As I sit back and reflect I can’t help but to think about all of the people who have never laid eyes on their niece or nephew. Sure deadly drunk driving accidents stick in our minds. After all one drunk driver took Charlie an 4 other people out on a wintry Valentine’s Day. That was one moment in time, yet in that moment hundreds of women lost their lives to heart disease and stroke. Hundreds more died that day from a Pulmonary Embolisms or other hormonal contraceptive related side effect. Those lives never make the news, they just fade quietly into the timelines of history.
If it were not for my care team I would have joined the fading time line. I would have been another casualty not a news worthy story. There isn’t a day that goes by where I do not thank God for keeping me on this earth. For answering my silent prayer and giving me the strength to fight. For giving me the strength to stand up and shout my story from the roof tops. With each word spoken I began to heal my broken heart, I penned my name on a legal services agreement and became a plaintiff in the Multidistrict Litigation against Merck. I put myself out there in hopes that I could save one woman from enduring my hell. I love with all of my heart and in a sheer moment of utter disaster my passion was born.
My purpose is clear “educate those around me about the dangers of hormonal contraceptives, blood clots, stroke and pulmonary embolism warning signs.” I will not rest until the Nuva Ring is pulled from he market and until doctors properly inform their patients of the risk associated with the use of hormonal contraceptives. Charlie was the one who pushed me to share my story with the world. He took up my mission and would stand in the wings watching me with tears in his eyes as I brought tears to the audience. I am alive today because I listed to my heart.
When Charlie died my heart was broken and it healed each time I held our niece in my arms. Each time I heard her laughter, held her tiny hand in mine, and listen to her whisper Auntie” for the first time. To think the Nuva Ring almost robbed me of those moments. My birth control almost cheated me out of being an aunt. The Nuva Ring almost claimed my life and it changed me in more ways than I could ever explain. However it will never ever stop me from loving Sophia with all of my surviving heart. Sophia will grow up with the notion that she is one lucky little girl. Because she could be holding a picture of the woman she calls Auntie. Instead she gets to hold her aunties hand and play. She is lucky because God allowed her Aunt to be the 1 out of 5 who got to walk away from a massive pulmonary embolism on October 22, 2009.
As I watch Sophia unwrap her gifts I will be thinking about all of my sisters who lost the battle. About all of those who would gladly take my seat at the table and those who are fighting with all of their hearts. Families will gather and thousands of children will hear stories about the women they never got to meet. Heart disease, strokes, and pulmonary embolisms are taking to many aunties out of the equation. To many children are walking in memory of the woman they never got to call “Auntie” and never got to love with all of their hearts.