October 16, 2008

And Justice For All?

Wednesday evening James Woods, the prosecutor in the state of Tennessee's case
against Cody Matthew Headrick who was charged in the death of our daughter, Hadrienne, called us in order to deliver news about this case that has left our family grief stricken once again. Judge Rebecca Stern, the presiding judge in this case, reversed her 2 time decision to deny pre-trial diversion to the defendant. In the state of Tennessee a defendant is allowed to apply for pre-trial diversion if the crime they have committed is their first offense. If they are granted diversion, and their record remains clean for a period of time afterwards, then all of the charges he was facing will be expunged from his record. In-other-words, it will be as if what he did never happened.

I believe the Prosecutor has the right to appeal the Judges decision, but even if the appeal is successful it will not undo the devastation that Gloria, Asher and I are presently feeling the full weight of.

I have included links to a local online news source with more details as well as a link to a number of letters that have been written by individuals who have expressed their outrage.


A Father and Mother Too Sad For Words,
andy and gloria mendonsa

| By XZILEEEEE | 11:21 AM | Comments (5)

May 27, 2008

May 23, 2008, Asher's 3 Year Accident Anniversary





| By XZILEEEEE | 9:22 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Hadrienne!

hadrienne6.jpghadrienne2.jpghadrienne 1.jpghadrienne3.jpghadrienne4.jpghadrienne5.jpg

| By XZILEEEEE | 5:21 PM

November 18, 2007

Two Year Anniversary, November 18, 2007

hkm and rowyn.jpg
Hadrienne Kathleen Mendonsa
December 30, 1995-November 19, 2005

this past monday, november 12, 2007, was yet another court date for the young man that killed our daughter. he applied for diversion back at the end of the summer. apparently, you can only apply for diversion if you are a first time offender. the assistant district attorney, who is prosecuting this case, has denied the diversion. this decision is now being appealed. what it will mean if diversion is now granted by the judge is that after this is all over this case will be expunged from this young mans record. it will be like it never existed for him. he will never have to put it on a job application that he was responsible for and convicted of a crime; a crime that killed hadrienne.

the next hearing date will not be until january 28, 2008. this is exactly what happened around this time last year. we were, again sent home with absolutely nothing being done, and this young man gets to enjoy being with his family for yet another thanksgiving and christmas. we are beginning to feel like bill murray in "groundhog day," only without the mystery.

the 18th, the night of her accident, was on a friday night 2 years ago. sunday, the 20th, was the day they took hadrienne off of life support while we held her hand and watched the simulation of life cease. it is odd that today, sunday, november 18th, combines memories for all that took place for both days, starting with the call i received on the apartment phone (where we were living in atlanta with asher while he was going through outpatient therapy at Shepherd) from the officer on the accident site telling me that hadrienne had been in an accident and was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance (it was several hours after receiving that call before i was able to find out any more information about her condition. that news came while i was sitting in traffic on I-75 desperately trying to get back to chattanooga to hadrienne.), through sunday afternoon (20th) the day hadrienne was taken off of life support and in far too many ways we were to.

it is very difficult to be able to explain what it is like for us, now, and calendar dates. so much of our lives revolves around specific dates. dates are road markers in our lives for events: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays (both religious and secular). many of these dates have very profound meanings for us and affect us just as profoundly as we anticipate their arrival as well as the actual celebration of them. Before Asher was injured, we all looked forward to the celebration of the things that most of us look forward to, especially late fall, beginning with Thanksgiving. Following Thanksgiving, for us, the month of December was almost a continuous time of celebration beginning with gloria and my wedding anniversary on the 11th, then asher's birthday on the 22nd, of course Christmas day (which was also one of our dog's birthdays), and finally hadrienne's birthday on the 30th.

Since everything happened for our kids in December, gloria and i decided, when our kids were pretty small, that we would have a mid-year birthday celebration for them. this always happened around June, which was also when my birthday is.

Now, all of the dates that we once looked so forward to celebrating, have all become memorials to the many catastrophic tragedies our family has suffered. It is not, at all, my intention to pass on what we are feeling and going through right now, and even at other times of the year that mark other significant memorial dates. Based on outward appearance, i think that for most people who know us and come into contact with us both frequently and infrequently, we seem pretty much back to our old selves. That is always the problem we face when assessments are made based on outward appearances only. Often gloria and i are asked how we are doing, and the ones who generally ask this are well meaning and truly concerned for us, but i still don't know how to answer this question. any answer i give cannot possibly communicate anything at all relatable to most of those who are asking. many times i am tempted to just respond with: how would you be doing under the same circumstances? This would be a very cruel and unfair response on my part, i know, because there is no possible way for most people to even begin to base a response, if they even could, on anything remotely relatable.

so, what keeps us going on in a life that has become a calendar year of memorials which is compounded by the short leash that those who serve as caregivers wear on behalf of those they serve? any explanation that excluded faith would be shallow and empty at best. hope for a better day, even if that day lies beyond our earthly existence, is something that we must remind ourselves of continuously. that is part of it. for gloria, the flower shop she and her close friend sue wright have opened together, by her own admission, is keeping her sane. for me, it is looking at the greater needs of others, both here in chattanooga, as well as in many other parts of the world. our lives seem to have become one continuous motion of serving others.

and asher, the whole reason this blog was set up, where is he in all of this? i think for the first time, since i first told him that hadrienne had died, he has talked about what the loss of hadrienne has meant to him as her brother. it was the night before the hearing last week. he asked if he could go to the hearing and tell the judge what her death has done to him. after his accident hadrienne became so much of his strength for going forward. there were so many plans they were making for after he was finished with therapy and we all came back to chattanooga. almost everything else had been taken away from asher as a result of his accident, at least, he was able to count on hadrienne, who had always been there for him growing up.

recently, asher said to us in response to something we were talking about, "my life sucks, it is so boring and depressing," and yet his demeanor in expressing this was neither bored nor depressed. it was like he was half joking when he said it, even though we knew he meant it. we knew it was not being said by someone who had given up or had sunk into the depths of feeing sorry for himself, rather he was just stating it as fact, and nothing else. regardless of what was behind it, the words break a parents heart, none-the-less.

very few visitors come to see asher anymore, particularly not those that came so faithfully throughout the time of the unknown. this is understandable and not a reason for hurt feelings or bitterness. many, many new friends have come in and out of asher's life over the past 2 years and no doubt, there will be many more to come. to explain more than this, i am afraid, would be to violate asher's privacy. suffice to say that the complexities of this new life takes more understanding than most people have the time or inclination to pursue, and understandably so.

with thanksgiving coming up, only one more thing comes to mind: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." this reminds me of something that david said when he was about to offer up a sacrifice to god and someone offered to give him the oxen for it. his response was something to the effect of not being willing to offer up a sacrifice to god that cost him nothing (2 samuel 24:24). how much, or many of the daily sacrifices that we offer up to god either in offerings of thanks, or deeds of service, cost us nothing. in this country, based on my own life, the answer would have to be little or nothing. unfortunately, there usually seems to be a built in beneficiary clause with our name on it that is factored in as part of the equation with much of what we give and do, either individually or corporately, on behalf of others.

blessings and thanksgiving,
andy mendonsa

gloria and sue wright's new, flower shop

| By XZILEEEEE | 10:07 AM

May 4, 2007

Asher Gets a Vist From Yellow Bird on Easter

On Easter Sunday our friends bob and sue wright and their son bradford came over for lunch. They brought a special visitor to see Asher, Bradford's pet cockatiel, Yellow Bird. Asher really enjoyed the visit, and apparently so did Yellow Bird. I think there may be a cockatiel on the horizon.

We are all doing well and staying very busy.

blessings and thanksgiving,

andy mendonsa

| By XZILEEEEE | 11:40 PM

December 30, 2006

In Memory of Hadrienne, Today, She Would Have Been 21.


A Favorite Picture of Mine of Hadrienne (it is my desk top background)


Mark Stewart (kneeling), Asher (His first visit since her funeral), Gloria, Putting a Wreath on Hadrienne's Tombstone

Hadrienne's Tombstone (black granite from Africa), Around the Edge is a Quote by Hermann Hesse

The last book Hadrienne was reading, before she was tragically killed by a wreckless driver, was “I dreamed of Africa” by Kuki Gallman. I had found a first edition copy in a used book and comic book store near Decatur, Georgia (near the intersection of North Druid Hills road and Clairmont). For a number of years I tried to get Hadrienne to watch the movie, based on this book, but she had heard that it was too sad and would never watch it.

Unfortunately, I will never know why she decided to read this book at this time. The last time I saw her was in the parking garage of the apartment building where our family was staying on 14th street near Piedmont Park in Atlanta. This was the place we were living while Asher was recovering from the catastrophic injuries he sustained after falling 4 stories inside of an abandoned building on May 23, 2005.

I walked my daughter and her best friend Skye Webb to my daughter’s car, not having the slightest suspicion that, although this would not be the last time I would speak to her, it would be the last time I set eyes on her in a conscious state.

When Hadrienne left Atlanta, returning to Chattanooga, she went with 2 goals in mind. One was to register for the next semester at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she would have been a first semester Sophomore, majoring in Biology, and the other was to find a place to live.

During the week while she was in Chattanooga she stayed with her Grandma Jackson, who had been living next door to us for almost 4 years. Hadrienne’s step-Granddaddy, Dick, had recently entered a nursing home due his suffering from a very advanced case of Parkinson’s disease. He has since passed away.

Grandma Jackson had asked her to consider moving in with her and Hadrienne was considering this and spending this week with her was her way of testing the waters, so to speak.

Some number of days, that might have been weeks, or perhaps, even months, after Hadrienne was killed in an automobile accident, I found the copy I had given her of “I dreamed of Africa” among other things she had brought with her that week to Chattanooga and were still at her Grandmas house.

Maybe I should not have been surprised to find a book mark, indicating to me that she had not only begun to read this book but that she was already on the 13th chapter. From everything I could tell, Hadrienne’s last week on this earth was busy, very busy. So, I was somewhat surprised to find that she had also found the time to read.

Among Hadrienne’s dreams was Africa. A little over 2 weeks before she was supposed to have traveled to Africa with me, but due to my son, Asher’s, critical injuries this trip had to be postponed. As I opened the book to see what page the cellophane wrapper she had place between 2 pages to mark her place, the quote, which she may or may not have read, certainly, definitely, was her heart, and was so quickly fulfilled, but not in any manner that she would have dreamed at that time, and certainly not in a manner that has been bearable for me, for her mother and her brother and many adoring other family and friends.

Chapter 13, “Kuti,” under this title is a poem, or only part of a poem, I can’t tell. It is first written in German, the original language of its author, Hermann Hesse, from a body of published “poems” in 1902. The translation into English for this quote by Hesse appears at the bottom of this page, seemingly as a footnote. A footnote, perhaps, in the context of the larger body of this particular work, but in terms of Hadrienne’s life, and especially in terms of her horribly tragic death, this quote, these 4 brief lines, more accurately, more profoundly than anything I can think or imagine captures and has now even fulfilled all that was the heartbeat of Hadrienne’s mind’s eye, and for what must have seemed a far far distant dream to be realized by her at the time of her life’s end, at the moment of her eternities beginning, where she must have tried to imagine where her home must be, now she knows for certain that is where it was all along, and if nothing else occurs to us by her passing it should be the certainty that is where our home lies as well. And the home that we are all ultimately trying to get to.

“Across the sky the clouds move,
Across the fields, the wind,
…Across the mountains, far away
My home must be.”

Hermann Hesse, Poems (1902)

Blessings and Thanksgiving,

| By XZILEEEEE | 7:33 PM