Remy Elena Zappulla February 23rd, 2011 – May 29th, 2011

I may have said in the past something to the extent of, “This is the most difficult post I have had to write.”  Nothing compares to what I am currently trying to express.  As I dreamed of so many times, I will never be able to use this blog as a chronicle to explain to Remy how she began, in a time her life that is fit. That opportunity was stolen from me.

Yesterday, Sunday, May 29th, 2011 at 8:30am, the soul of Remy Elena Zappulla born February 23rd, 2011, left this earth.   She was in our arms, with no machines or IV’s running though her veins.  She is the love of our lives, the greatest gift we have ever known. She left in peace and just before her heart stopped beating she grabbed our fingers and squeezed them very hard.  Even in her weakest moment our Remy showed great strength and courage.  She told us she loved us.

Waterfalls are rolling down my eyes as I write this. Our last day and a half has been excruciating and indescribable.   There is an emptiness that Mary and I know wholeheartedly will never be filled during our time on this earth.  Our resentment and anger, even towards God, for the loss of our precious sweetheart Remy cannot be put into words.  Our sadness is often expressed in crying sounds that do not sound human. Sometimes we cry so hard that we do not make any sounds at all.  Our feeling of loss is greater than any feeling we have ever felt.  A part of us, along with Remy, has died as well.  It’s not metaphorical,  it’s real.  We built her a beautiful room, have her a wardrobe, and a lot of gifts with monogramming.  We have so many reminders of the life we wanted with her and it is painful, so very painful, to be without her.  At night, in bed it is excruciating!  Mary and I clench onto one another trying to provide any inkling of comfort we can give to one another.

After not leaving the hospital for 5 straight days, hoping for a miracle, but knowing this awful moment might come and did, today’s morning experience was as horrific and as real as it gets.  Today…………….this morning, as we woke, we did not get up quickly, we did not rush to get our things to go to the hospital, and we were not filled with excitement to get there and kiss Remy’s face all day.  It was the brutal empty feeling of loss.  The worst kind of loss in its most extreme form.  Going to the hospital everyday for the entire year would have been a joy compared to what we felt this morning.

We do not expect these feelings to ever disappear. There will be an empty space forever.   We do not know what we are feeling at times because it is so new.  Yet we treasure our 95 days with Remy more than any gift we have ever experienced in our lifetime.  Our unconditional love for Remy will ALWAYS remain!  Remy has brought us as  husband and wife, closer than ever before.  In the last 95 days, she has taught us more about our own lives than we have learned in our 30 and 38 years.   She will live on forever and we will not forget her.   She has affected so many people we know, and many others we have never met.  She has taught, touched, and heightened the lives of not only Mary and I, but thousands of others.  Remy is a legacy.  We hope that anyone who reads this post, follows our story, or has connected with Remy, has gained something from her.

If you see Mary or me right now you may not have the same feeling.  We are broken, and at times cannot express optimism and strength. This morning we woke up with feeling of wanting to be dead. With time, we know we will be strong again.  Our Remy was SO STRONG!  Her heart was physically and metaphorically the strongest heart anyone could ever have.   We will never forget that.  We will carry on her legacy and bring good from it.  She is our hero, our superstar. Remy is our LOVE and she will always live on.

A service will be held in Remy’s honor later this week in Brooklyn. All are welcome. Details will be provided in my next post.  If you’d like to be notified about the arrangements via email, please sign up as a member to Remy’s blog (in the upper right hand corner – it is very simple).

We remain grateful to everyone who has supported us with prayer, love, donations, words, and thoughts and so on.  Your actions mean the world to us and we love all of you.

Please take some time to enjoy the beautiful pictures of our precious Remy below.

Fighting for Dear Life!

I know that many of you have been anxious to hear of Remy’s results since Sundays post.  This has been a difficult week for me to be able to update.  Between more long work days and spending days and nights at the hospital in between and the stress of Remy’s worsening condition it has been very difficult to even think about blogging, let alone do it.   Remy has faced so much throughout her three months already.  The  past 10 days have been challenging and treacherous for her.   She has and has had multiple organ failure.   Her dysfunctional kidneys have not allowed her to pee.   Her blood vessels still are unable to retain fluids.   She has grown immensely and is filled with so much fluid that it has caused bruising and discoloration of her skin throughout her body.  Her lungs were severely compromised.  Her heart has been affected.   She looks plagued and physically beaten.   Blood clots all over her skin, (which has little room to expand any more) legions all over her.  Her face is so swollen it appears as if she has three eyes. Metabolically and  physically sicker than she has ever been before.  Some doctors here have never seen a baby as puzzling and sick as Remy is. They have also never seen a baby as sick show such fight!

We have lived each day not knowing if she would be with us the following day.  To go through that is beyond explanation.   We have been tested, broken, destroyed, dehumanized, filled with rage and anguish.  We have been counseled and cared for by so many here at the NICU.   We spend as much time as humanly possible talking, touching, kissing and singing to our little miracle child!  Our brilliant, mind-blowing staff here has shared our ups and downs and continues to challenge themselves.  We have held several meetings each day.  We work with them by the hour trying to hear Remy speak to us, and figure out what she needs.  While we are no scientist or medical authorities of any sort, we have learned so much about our baby’s needs and responses.

Emergency surgery this afternoon, which very likely could have ended her life, has given us a small glimmer of hope.   She is too sick to move, so it had to be at her bedside.  It has helped her breath better, and alleviated a stressed lung and her heart.   Our Remy is by medical standards still extremely critical and the odds are very much against her ever coming home with us.  We understand what we and Remy are facing each and every day we are here.  For now though we continue to focus on trying to save her.   She is miraculous.  She is miraculous!  She is miraculous!

We are grateful to all of our family; blood relatives,  NICU staff,  friends and followers, donating blood,  bringing us food,  sending us love and praying for us, whatever it is you have done!   I cannot promise that I will have another update anytime soon as it is growing more difficult to post.  What I can promise is that Mary and I, along with her great medical staff will be here every day by Remy’s side, working hard and fighting, doing everything within our power to make Remys life story last longer than ours!

Beyond Words

Without question of any post I have previously written, this one carries more emotion than ever before. I will usually sit on my laptop and try to convey some experience, some diagnoses, some surrounding and mix it all together. I want you as friends, family, and followers to understand what we are experiencing. What Remy’s status is. I try to paint a picture of what it is like in here and what it is like when I am not here.  I want you to connect. I want this to be a chronicle that I can go back and show to Remy when she is older, something to reflect in a time in her life when it seems fit. I want this to be a resource for those who may be going through similar situations and need to relate. I often go in ready to write about one thing and end up writing something different and if you read the blog you know my posts can become very long.  I don’t think I possess the ability to convey exactly what Mary and I went through this past Thursday. It was the most frightening moment in my 38 years. On Thursday, both Mary and stood by as we watched our little Remy almost leave us!

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The space above represents emptiness.  That was the strongest feeling that was felt.  It began with an attempt to transfer Remy from her oscillator to a gentler machine known as the ‘Jet’. It started with just three personnel and ended with a huddle of about 15 to 20.  The tone was one of the utmost concern, panic and fear! There was screaming, crying, falling to the floor, panic!  Our Remy was seconds away from never breathing another breath again. Everything around us became blurry. We honed in on the possibility  of our child struggling to survive and it was as if we had entered into another dimension.  Our hearts stopped. We could feel our bodily functions like we never have before. We were helpless. I mean HELPLESS! It is was our absolute WORST nightmare coming to fruition in front of our very eyes, except we were awake, the kind of awake you never want to be!

During this moment we  truly realized as much as we thought  we knew what love is, as much we thought we could describe love, we never even had a clue how strong our love was until that love was being TAKEN AWAY FROM US!  Remy…………..our girl, our little lady, our bugaboo, our sunshine, our LIFE within us, WAS NOT READY FOR THIS.

Following this event we were told by many doctors and personnel at the NICU that we should enjoy every moment we have with her, that we should be prepared for the worst, that there are so many horrific possibilities in our’s and Remy’s future, both long and short-term.  We have heard similar things from the staff before.  This was different.   The tone was blunt and so serious.   The expectations are so questionable. It is now Sunday morning and Remy still has major leaps she must make and the situation is still very critical and more real than ever.

Remy’s response in the 12 hours following this heart-wrenching, and aging event was nothing less than miraculous! She made overnight progress that was simply astounding! This is not just from a parent’s perspective, but from those on the staff caring for her day and night. For the next 60 or so hours up to now she has been very non responsive, except for random movement and hand holding, which melts our hearts.   She is currently in a holding pattern, but also gradually heading in the wrong direction. There is immense concern for her in so many areas of her health.  In this post I don’t  have the energy to explain all of the medications, attempts to help her gain strength, and symptoms she is dealing with.

Our baby girl has shown unthinkable strength.  She is not ready to give up on us and herself. She has a great amount of healing to do to recover from her recent surgery while also having to recover from preexisting conditions and battle the unpredictable day to-day hurdles she faces. It do not have the option,  but I would endure a lifetime of torture and solidarity to see my baby get healthy and live a long happy life!  Our spirits have been tested more than ever before over the past four days.  While our baby’s health is the biggest concern of all our psychological status is unpredictable.   We know that we are parents.  We know that we must continue as any other parent and maintain our strength and dig as deep as humanly possible.  We advocate when we see fit and try to influence as we see fit and let the experts do what they must and continue to talk and touch our little angel everyday.

Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute!

The picture below represents strength that starts from the roots.  Our Remy has strong roots that date back to her ancestors.   We want to see her flourish and grow into her own wonderful ‘self’!

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Back in her Mother’s Arms

Thursday was a very special day for Remy.   Though she does not know it yet, it was a day that Mary and I have been awaiting and envisioning since before Remy was even born.   My Grandma, ‘our’ Grandma, Remy’s  Great Grandma Theresia Dombrofski, got to meet her great-granddaughter and it was a healing experience for all of us.  It was a healing of the soul.  It was just one of those moments that you cannot really quantify in numbers or in theory or as to what kind of effect it can have; it just does!   Standing tall and proud at 91 years old it was instantaneous joy.   She showed concern and worry but did not cry or wince or display discomfort from what she had witnessed.  This was a monumental moment.   My grandma, who traveled from Czechoslovakia at the age of 16, due to the onset of WWII and Nazi Germany, who left behind several of her 9 brothers and sisters, who never again saw her mother and much of her family, stood over my child.   Without her great sacrifice and her great contributions to our life neither me nor Remy would be here today.

Overall, Monday through Thursday was a stretch of progress for Remy.   Everyday she improved; her edema (unhealthy water weight) decreased, her collapsed left lung got better, her blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels, all either improved or remained steady.  We were excited for the next step and were hopeful she would soon be moved to SIPAP!  We said goodbye to my parents and  Grams.  My Grandma told the nurses she was so in love and wanted to take Remy home with her.   After they left  Remy again began to seize.   This would go on for over 24 hours.

Her seizures were again very intense.  They took a while to control.  Her meds were increased to heavy dosages and she was hit with everything. This went on until 9 pm on Friday evening.  Sparing myself from having to relive the experience by writing in detail, I will just say that the second half of the day was not a good day for Mary or I and most of all, not for our little angel!  Saturday came and it was yet another rough day.  Remy was barely peeing again.  Her edema had increased.  Her blood pressure was low and she had to be put back on Dopamine.   The Dopamine was also quickly increased.  Again  came fear of  a possible infection, so she was put on antibiotics once again, Vancomycin and Zosen.  Our baby has lived more days on antibiotics than without.  Her leg was starting to bruise near her picc line in her leg, so it had to be moved to her arm.  Thankfully, for the second half of the day and throughout the evening Remy started to improve once again. Through all of this, for the most part, her respiratory functions were steady and stable, though her left lung was still experiencing collapses it seems every other day.

Sunday morning we arrived to an entire staff gathered around Remy.   For a moment we freaked out in fear.  It turned out to be a very good thing.   Despite the fact that Remy’s left lung had been collapsing and expanding over the past few days, Remy was extubated and re-intubated and moved onto a conventional breathing machine.  It wasnt the SIPAP we were hoping for but it didn’t matter. This was the right step and it meant improvement.  Rather then pumping several puffs of air in and out (about 400 a minute), she is now being given air at her normal breathing rate, and when she is able to breathe on her own, the machine recognizes that and her breathing assistance is decreased.   This was a tremendous step for Remy.   We had been waiting for this and hoping for this for so long now. One of the greatest rewards was that Mary was finally able to hold Remy after waiting for 36 days.   It was not skin to skin like kangarooing, but the joy  and feeling that it brought to Mary was priceless and for Remy we know it is important that we hold her as often as we can.   Sunday was a great, great day!!

Sunday night we were excited to find out that Remy had peed 190 cc’s in one sitting.   Are you kidding?!  I mean she doubled her 10 hour record in one diaper in one diaper.   This was fantastic and has continued through Monday with record-breaking urine counts.  My god, I never thought I would even care about something like that, yet alone write about it!  Backtracking to Sunday evening on the opposite spectrum Remy had developed a fever of 102.1; the highest temperature she has ever been.  This was needless to say a big scare.   The fever would decrease throughout the night her temperature was back to normal by morning.

Back to the respiratory situation.  Now that Remy is on conventional ventilation, she will be able to get a brain scan, better known as an MRI.   This should happen any day now.   I have been out in the field the past few days and unable to visit, but I cannot wait to be back in the hospital tomorrow.  We are very anxious to get the MRI results and see if there is anything to be found.  At the same time we are extremely scared!  We have been told by more than one doctor that there could be  terrible results which may be irreversible, and we have been told that she may be absolutely fine.  As always everything surrounding our and Remy’s life becomes a double-edged sword.  We have strong faith that our Remy will be okay.  Through all of this we have seen too much from her, that it makes us believe she will be okay.   Until we have the results from this long-awaited MRI, our heart rates will be increased and our minds will be focused on one thing.   To her I say, “Please sweet little lady of mine, show me that you are okay and stronger than anyone could ever imagine, that you are healthy and will get healthier and I promise I will continue to do everything in my power to give you the best life I can give you.”

Below pics of Mary finally getting to hold our Remy once again after a 36 day wait and Grams with Remy.

Can I get a SIPAP please!

Late Friday night I finished my assignment and was looking forward to hanging out with Mary and Remy during a seven-day break.  Saturday morning came and we were off to our daily hospital routine.  Mary had her coffee.  I had my green tea we had a few bananas and some snacks packed and we were off.  It was a pretty good morning.   My sister Dawn came to visit a little after noon.  We caught up and hung out bedside with Remy and ate lunch in the NICU.   Remy was content, until about four o’clock, when Dawn headed out.   Little did we know Remy was just behaving for her Aunt Dawn.

The rest of the day was not content.  Remy had begun to experience more seizures.  She has done this before on many occasions, but these were more like the original seizures she experienced about six or seven weeks ago.   We held her hand and pleaded with her to stop seizing.   A few hours later she stopped seizing and they seemed to get them under control after upping her dosages of Phenobarbitol, Ativan, Keppra and Fosphenytoin, all of which slow down the brain activity.   We had seen this before, but being that she had been experiencing so many seizures this week it was tougher than usual to accept.

Easter Sunday came.   We passed on dinner with our family in Long Island, and though they wanted to come and be with us we needed to be alone with our baby girl all day.   This day would turn out to be an even more difficult day for Remy.   Her seizures had continued on and off through the late afternoon into the early evening.  The seizure activity was extremely frequent and they for lasted long periods.  They continued steadily for about thirty minutes at a time with maybe five-minute breaks.  They look like little electric shocks going through her body every second.  Her arms, legs fingers toes all jerk simultaneously.   We held her hands and feet and talked to her over and over, pleading with her to get better.  I can’t describe what goes through my mind watching this happen, except that at this point I am losing my mind.  This went on for half the day.    Thankfully due to the high doses of medication she was given, she eventually stopped.

Still we cannot do an MRI because she is in no state to do so.  An MRI would give us more accurate idea of what may or may not be going on under that little skull of hers.  It’s a huge concern.  Could this be damaging her brain?  Could it be affecting her in the long term?  Yes.   On the other hand, it could be cranial reaction that has yet to do any damage.  Her motor functions work well.  She grabs, jerks and clenches, yawns, licks her lips and reacts dramatically at times and this is all positive.   We can feel her presence.  She has reactions like you and I.   Though we cannot hear anything because she is intubated she cries, yawns, gets pissed off.  You can tell when she is uncomfortable or hurting.

Yesterday her chest tube was removed after being clamped for 72 hours.  Unlike last week the x-ray four hours later showed no air accumulation after the fact, and for now it does not need to be reinserted.   This is a small victory and what we hope is a sign of more to come.  She is peeing like crazy, about 140 cc’s just in just a 10 hour span yesterday.   Not by measurement, but in comparison its the equivalent of what you would have to pee after during a heavy night of beer drinking.   If there were an over/under on her urine output Remy covered the over by a long shot.

This morning has been great so far.   Mary and I woke up to some Bob Marley’s, Three Little Birds.  We called in to the NICU beforehand and Remy’s still hangin’ strong!   Her levels continue to be weaned down on her oscillator and it is a strong possibility that she will come off this week and go to SIPAP.  In other words; WE MAY BE ABLE TO HOLD HER THIS WEEK! It’s been about a month since we have been able to do so.  We are really hoping this comes to fruition quickly.   We are feeling so good today, the sun is shining and so are our faces!  Mary just shed some tears of joy when we were told of the possibility of SIPAP.   We have new energy today!  There is a reservation under the name ‘Remy Zappulla’ for a SIPAP, which could be seen as early as tomorrow if we are lucky.  We have asked our daughter to spare us of any surprises and stay the course!

We took some Easter pics this week of Remy.  Aunt Brenda got her a baby duck, which we put in a plastic bag so no germs get to her, and Mom T. brought us Mary’s first Easter basket from 1980.  (Mary was born the night before Easter).  Hopefully this will be our last Easter indoors.  Bring on the park next year!

Feeling Deflated

It has been tough to get out posts the past few weeks.  This is my first phone post.   With long work days, visits to the hospital whenever I am not working and just so much to catch up on in everyday life it grows tougher to keep a grip on everything.   I was able to spend the day with my girls on Wednesday.  We had a good day overall.  It has been a tough week.   Mary has especially been hit hard.   Remy has seen some ups and downs this week.  While she is now peeing like crazy and releasing fluids she is not losing much weight.  Her chest tube was removed and then had to be reinserted just four hours later, due to air accumulation outside the right lung.  Her left lung collapsed improved and again collapsed and improved.  Her eyes are still unable to open despite some short moments of squinting.   She remains swollen and the staff is having trouble locating  good veins to move her I.V. lines, as this has been necessary to do.   Her oxygen settings needed to be raised, btut she was taken of the nitric.

We are being patient, as patient as possible, but it is growing more difficult.  We worry about our baby girl so much.  We have watched so many new babies arrive, and so many recently leave.  While extremely happy for our newfound friends and there healthy babies, we want so much to see our little Remy follow in their footsteps and see progress now!

We had lunch with our cousin Cindy, who is like a sister to me.  For those of you who don’t know, she has had the great misfortune of watching her 3-year-old son Ty suffer from cancer and has spent her past nine months practically residing in the hospital full-time.  It was so great to spend even a short time together. We talked about how we just want our babies to stop suffering and be okay, and how much our lives and perspectives have changed in so many ways.   We are going through two very different experiences but share so many of the same.   Most of all, we want for our children to be okay and would trade places in a second with them if we could, and we ourselves just want to get back to worrying about normal stress.

Mary and I know that Remy has a long road ahead of her.  We do not feel sorry for ourselves.  We are just drained and scared and want to hold our girl again.  Remy has been on different means of  life support for close to a month now and while she has made improvement in many ways her status still remains in limbo.  We continue to remain strong, to move forward and to work with Remy’s  doctors and influence their decisions whenever we feel we must.   We are enamored by their talents, care and dedication.  We will continue to fight this fight with our baby girl and keep our strength and hope alive and well. We are deflated very often but still going and not pessimistic.  We are human, and if the tone of this post sounds like we have been beat down, well we have.  However, each day is a new day, and we remember no matter how hard this becomes it much more about our baby girl than it is about us.  It is okay that sometimes we will get beat down, it is just important that we get back up and stand strong for our girl!

Waiting

Remy has not made any progress in the past two days.  There were some positives but no real progress.  She did produce about 37 cc’s of pee after 42 hours of nothing.  Picture a standard spice container you would get a supermarket, now hold you thumb and your index finger about an inch apart.   That is about how much she filled that container. It’s not a lot.  It was nice to see it at first, and enough to make us smile and feel excited.  But since yesterday there has been close to nothing again.

She is swollen today, very swollen.   Her hands and feet are more bloated than we have ever seen.  She has had to undergo several procedures.   Her chest tubes were moved a few times between yesterday and today.   After what the x-rays revealed, it was necessary.  These tubes move a lot, mainly because the air and fluid surrounding her lungs move.  If you tape a string on a windowsill it will just sit there.  If you open the window, the string is will blow around and sit in different positions, when the wind dies down.   Remy’s lungs are constantly changing condition.  One day the upper right lung will be collapsed, the next it will be the lower right.   Her left lung experiences hyperinflation, because it already functions okay but the oxygen she receives overcompensates.   She experiences acidosis when she does not get out as much carbon dioxide as she is producing.  This affects her acidity levels and is directly related to her kidneys, which are already functioning poorly.  She also gets Pneumothorax, which is when there is air outside of her lungs that needs to be inside of her lungs.  We desperately want to know that the air is inside her lungs, where it should be.  On top of all of this, every time she goes through a procedure of any sort her MAP’s (blood pressure levels) drop down immediately.  Following that, they can take all day to get back up to a desirable rate.

When her MAP’s reach the desirable rate of 39 and above that is when she usually pees.  Problem is, she requires so many procedures and disruptions, that it is a rare occasion her MAP’s can be kept at a steady rate that is pee conducive for her.  It’s like trying to drive a car when one tire is heading east, another west, another south, and another north.

One really great thing is that a cardio surgeon yesterday was able to insert two lines into Remy’s right and left Femoral arteries.  These are the arteries in her right and left groin area.  She is so swollen, so it was a big concern that he would even find them.   He aced it!  What he inserted was an A-Line (arterial line) and another I.V. line.  The A-line is great, because it serves two purposes.  It is used to constantly and accurately read her blood pressure (better than a standard cuff), while more importantly it can be used to drain blood straight from that line.  That means she does not have to get pricked with a needle throughout the day and go through that discomfort and stress. I estimated how many times her blood has been drawn in the last 44 days, based on an average of what I have witnessed.  My guess is about 500.  I take no joy in saying this, but I’m pretty sure I’m close.  The other line allowed us to remove an IV line from her wrist, which was there for quite a while, and was starting to show signs of distress.  We would love to be able to remove her picc line and try a new artery in her leg or somewhere else.   The picc line itself could be the source of infection.  It’s a long shot, yet a possibility.   This is too risky though. She is too swollen and trying to find somewhere to move it to is not practical right now.

Remy has been for the most part, immobile for the past two days.   No movement, no hand grips on Mommy and Daddy’s finger, no toes curls, and no tongue movement when we clean her lips.   It’s concerning and disheartening to witness!   We want a reaction from Remy.   It’s her M.O.  Yesterday, just prior to tapping in to her Femoral arteries I was holding her head and she experienced some heavy twitching.  This was not the movement I was hoping for.  They were most likely more seizures.  She had to be administered a heavy dose of Phenobarb, which also carries a barbiturate.   She had to be administered Vecuronium, a paralyzing agent, and prior to the procedure to ensure she wouldn’t move.   The after affects of the Vec and the continued Pehnobarb injections I’m sure are affecting her mobility even more.  Regardless, we are so anxious to get some sort of movement from her.  Anything!

Today she went trough some more stress.   Both of her chest tubes were removed, and a new one was put in to get some of the air out of her lung cavity, which was a positive thing.  However, it was still more stress on her.  She had to be extubated and re-intubated with a wider tube to help her saturation levels.  It was stressful to watch.

She is finally at rest now with no foreseen activity coming up for at least a few hours and hopefully through the night.   Her blood gases are good.  She received a blood transfusion today.  Her latest respiratory x-ray looked good.  We are hoping for her MAP’s to increase to about 40 or above and stay there.  From there we hope for lots of pee!

On another note we want to mention how even though these times are incredibly trying, we find comfort and kindness in the friends we have made here in the NICU so far.  It is amazing how close you can get to people so quickly, and how a trying situation can bring people together.  We saw our newfound friends Courtney and Avi leave the NICU yesterday with their little girl Charley, after 5 long months of watching their child go through hell and get better.   We miss them already and Mary will especially miss going to see their little girl.  Whenever Remy is having a trying time, Mary found so much comfort in going to see her.  Knowing she is home makes us know that someday we will get to go home too.  We deserve it and so does Remy.   The picture of the empty space at the top of this post is both a hope for us and a tribute to Charley.