Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Travis

Thirty-six years ago, my idyllic life was forever altered by the arrival of my newborn brother. For six and a half years I had been the only child and I’m not gonna lie, I enjoyed it. When my mom told me I was going to have a brother or sister, I immediately voted Sister. She could share my room, my clothes, my dolls and I might let her play with my treasured Barbie Townhouse, if she promised not to yank on the elevator too hard and break the string. My dad was getting tired of replacing it every week or so.

I practiced feeding, burping and changing diapers on my dolls. I set up my high chair in the kitchen and fed my doll during dinner. I walked around the driveway with my dolls in the stroller. I rocked my dolls to sleep at night in the crib my dad made for me. Oh, it was going to be unicorns and butterflies to have a sister.

This is what I got.

Darell Travis Foreman. A boy. What. The. Hell? This is not what I asked for. Take it back. Do not want.

But he stayed. So I dealt with it in a mature fashion – I ignored him and carried on with my life as if nothing had changed. But as his room was next to mine and he had a tendency to screech in the middle of the night, it was tough to forget he was there. I do remember one night I woke up and heard him crying. My dad was out of town for work, and my mom was apparently exhausted because Travis cried for a while but I never heard her get up. I finally went to his room and peeked in between the bars of his crib at his little fat red face all puffed up from crying. I patted his back and probably said something soothing like “shut up, you annoying beast.” He settled down once he knew someone had come to save him, even if it was only That Girl Who Ignored Him.

I just remember thinking at that moment, hey, he’s not so bad. He was about 4 or 5 months old, so he was learning to hold up his head and starting to smile. I had noticed that when I would take time out of my busy schedule of Barbies to talk to him, he didn’t just lay there, he actually looked at me. Once he learned to walk and started to talk, I slowly began to realize that he was fun to play with. My favorite game was Put His Favorite Toy On Top Of The Piano And Watch Him Lose His Mind. Or offer him a ride on the canister vacuum cleaner, then yank the hose really hard and throw him off the back. Of course, while my parents were watching, I would read him books or roll a ball to him, but as soon as they turned around, that ball went right for his head. What? It was a Nerf ball, not a softball. I’ve got some compassion, geez.

I wasn’t always mean to him. I let him play with my coveted Dress Up Hat. God, I loved that hat.

And we wrestled. Sometimes I let him win.

As he got older and we wrestled, I would get a little rough with him. My mom would break us up, comfort the little whiner baby, and remind me that some day he would get bigger and probably pay me back. I never believed her, until that fateful day when he was about 5 years old. Somehow he managed to flip me over his back and clonk my head on the wooden arm of the couch. As I rubbed my head, it felt wet, and when I looked at my hand it was bleeding. Holy crap! I looked at Travis and he just grinned at me. Speechless from shock, I went to my mom, showed her my hand, pointed to my head, and waited to be comforted. She said, ”I told you so.” I bet that’s where I got my compassion from. I kid, I kid. Anyway, I guess she did feel sorry for me, because she took me to get my ears pierced later that day, which I had been BEGGING her to do for months. So I guess I owe him for that.

As he grew up, and well, I grew up too, I started to view my brother not as an aggravation but as a friend. Ironically, we became closer when I moved away. When I moved out, he was 12 years old. My roommate *coughBOYFRIENDcough* worked weekends, so on Saturdays I would pick up Travis. I would bring him back to the apartment and we would swim or play tennis. Sometimes we’d go ride go-karts or play miniature golf. I’d take him to the music store and I remember buying him Eddie Grant’s Electric Avenue and the Run DMC cassette where they did the duet with Aerosmith. I’m sure my parents loved hearing Walk This Way 900 times in a row. I took him to Springfield to go shopping for school clothes, and not only did he ask my opinion, he took it!

When he joined the Coast Guard, I was so proud of him. He’s been stationed in South Carolina and Tampa, Florida, and travelled all over the Caribbean, then lived in Panama City and San Diego. He did a year tour in Iraq, and that scared the hell out of me. When he told me he would be moving to Parris Island, Tennessee, when he came home, I was so glad, because he’d be a short road trip away. Sadly, he only got a year in Tennessee and now he’s in Maine.
But no matter where he was in this world, he’d still call me at least once a week. One of those phone calls is chronicled here. If you haven’t read this one, please click over. I’ll wait….

Happy birthday, Travis. I love you and I’m so proud of you, and I’m sorry for making you dress like a girl. I hope you enjoy your birthday present - I put all these pictures in a frame for you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Decision - Part Deux

So if my earlier post seemed a bit abrupt, here's why - it was the only thing I could coherently post at the time. I was angry, hurt, disappointed, seething, heartbroken and, well, pretty pissed off. However, I wasn't surprised. Part of me had a sinking feeling that I wasn't going to get the news I wanted to hear today.
I understand that the Court is not meeting and saying "hey, let's screw with Jessica and Kelli's family again this month. It's fun!!" I know that they are deciding a monumental case that will set a precedent. I know there are myriad points of law that must be checked and re-checked. I know there is a potential for a pretty substantial award. I have a feeling that's probably contributing to the delay. My head tells me this.

However, my heart argues that damn it, we're coming up on three years. We are a month away from Thanksgiving, two months from Christmas and then Kelli's birthday. This time of year is hard enough for us with the added stress of anticipating a decision that may or may not come. When we are offered these slivers of hope in the form of an announcement that the Court "may" issue a decision before a certain date, and then we wait for six weeks, hoping and praying every morning that it might be today, and going to bed every night hoping and praying that it might be tomorrow, and then we arrive at the date, only to be told that no, not today either, that now we have to wait another five weeks and three days until the next time that we "may" have a decision - well, it's hard to not take it personally. Mentally, physicially, emotionally, spirtually - it's taking a toll on us. We're exhausted.

But we will hang in there and wait another five weeks and change, because what else can we do? Absolutely nothing.

To all of you who comment here, in an email to me, on Facebook or on Twitter, and (my favorite) in person - again, thank you so much for your kindness, support, offers of liquor and threats of bodily harm to those who have wronged us. You help us get through this seemingly unending process. We are forever grateful.

PS - Please try to make the memorial blood drive on November 8, or please pass on the information to someone who can. We are trying to make this one our biggest yet!

No Decision

The Court met but no decision was issued. They meet again on December 6.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

48 Hours

In 48 hours I may or may not hear that the court did or did not issue a decision in our case. Not that they came right out and set a deadline, but at last report back in September the Court Commissioners were scheduled to meet this Thursday and that the Court "may" issue a decision before then.

The other couple who was injured in the crash had their Court hearing yesterday. I'm glad that they are finished with that ordeal, and I'm sorry that they get to join me in the limbo of waiting.

I've said it before, a lot, and I hope that I don't have to say it again. This waiting thing sucks. Especially as it's fast approaching the three-year anniversary. My God. Three years. I have to take a breath when I realize it's been that long.

I'll update on Thursday, regardless of what happens. However, it's probably a safe bet that if we don't hear anything, it may be an anger- and obscenity-laden post.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day Tripping

So, you want to know about my trip? Let me tell you – it was a whirlwind and I can’t wait to go back and see everything we missed. We did manage to pack in a lot of sights in our short time but we didn’t get to really experience any of the big attractions, like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. We saw them but weren’t able to get all up close and personal. We did experience Legoland, M&M World and FAO Schwartz – one guess as to who the tour director was at that time *coughMADDYcough*.

We walked to Times Square Sunday night so we could see the lights, and after our TV obligations on Monday, we walked 5th Avenue to Central Park, then went over to Chinatown, but it was starting to rain, so we headed to lower Manhattan to see the Financial District, Ground Zero, the Bull at Wall Street, Battery Park - I bet we walked for miles on Monday. Then it was off to JFK to wait on a delayed flight back home.

Appearing on The Today Show was surreal – again, it went so fast. We were supposed to meet the producer in the hotel lobby at 7am, but because of the miracle of live TV, he called at 6:40am on the off chance we were ready to go – they moved our segment time. Again. Uh, I’m going to have to say no on that one. We crammed twenty minutes of personal hygiene into ten, and hustled across the street to 30 Rock. Maddy and I went to hair and makeup, then up to the green room (which is actually beige) for our “teaser” shots to be used during the “Coming up next” promotions.

Just before 8:00am, we went to the actual studio, sat on the couch, got miked up and watched the news section of the broadcast. Then the cameras were on us, and our segment began. And then it was over, and we went back to the green room. I wasn’t nervous because I just didn’t have time, it was a dance of “go here,” “sit here,” “now go in here,” “look here,” “don’t look there,” and thanks for coming. In retrospect, I wish I’d had more opportunity to speak – I felt like I only said “yes,” “no,” “that’s correct,” and “thanks.” Still, I am thankful for the opportunity to introduce Jessica and Kelli to a national audience.

After my appearance, I received so many emails and phone calls from other families who have lost loved ones in similar crashes. It’s heartbreaking to hear their stories, and saddens me every time I hear of another family shattered by a senseless death. It also reinforces my drive and commitment of raising awareness and sharing the story of Jessica and Kelli, in hopes of saving lives which would otherwise be lost due to unnecessary police pursuits.

To that end, I will be addressing the Jefferson County, Missouri officers this Thursday. In December, I will be speaking again to the St. Louis County recruits, and the students at SWIC in Belleville. In February I will be on a panel discussing pursuit policy at the Southwestern Illinois Criminal Justice Institute, and also will be travelling to Carson City to speak to the new recruits of the Nevada Department of Public Safety. I was contacted by the head of the Nevada DPS after he saw me on the Today show. I can only hope that this will be the first of many agencies that I will have the chance to talk to about Jessica and Kelli.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

If you missed my Today Show or Inside Edition appearance, here are links to those stories:

Today Show:

Inside Edition:

Tune in tomorrow for the recap of my trip. I'm still sorting through emails and photos and catching up from the past week. It's been a whirlwind!

Friday, October 1, 2010


As I mentioned in a prior post, I will be appearing on the Today Show on Monday, October 4, between 7am and 8am. I’ll be talking about Jessica and Kelli, my work with PursuitSafety and FocusDriven, the changes that have been made since their deaths, the other changes we’d like to see made in the future, and the fundraisers and blood drives and scholarships and whatever else they decide to discuss.

How did this happen, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you: On Tuesday afternoon around 3:30pm, NBC contacted my attorney, who passed on the information to me. After approximately 900 phone calls, emails, text messages and voice mails, by Wednesday at 11:30am we had finalized my appearance date and time. By 11:45 I was at the mall buying a new outfit. Contrary to popular belief I did not buy new shoes. However, I have a fantastic pair that I barely wore last year.

Am I excited? Hell yes! Am I nervous? Hell yes! I have to be articulate, clear, concise, and make sure I don’t snort, swear, or pass out from fright. Oh, did I mention I’ll be in the studio at 30 Rock in New York City? This is live TV, people. There is no option for “hang on, can I repeat that?” I promise to try my best not to embarrass myself or others.

I have never been to New York City, and although we’ll only be there a short time, we hope to get in some sightseeing while we’re there. Our hotel is near 5th Avenue and I may pass out from shopping overload.

Fashion aside, I am thrilled beyond words to have an opportunity to take this story to a national audience. The chance to introduce Jessica and Kelli to millions of people is overwhelming but also way overdue. Ever since I started my advocacy work, I have wanted to tell the US about what happened to them in hopes that somewhere, someone takes a moment and rethinks their decisions behind the wheel. Even if we save only one life, that’s one family that won’t have to experience the pain, agony, shock and disbelief that we feel, and continue to feel, every day.

So if you can tune in between 7am and 8am on Monday on NBC, please do, or set your DVRs if you have to do that work thing.