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Living with the Loss of a Loved One, Without Closure

Updated on January 20, 2012

A Tribute to a Service Member and His Family

E-5 Thomas Wiilaims
E-5 Thomas Wiilaims | Source

A Service Member Losses his Battle with Leukemia, But His Memory will Live on Forever

I met Thomas Dewey, Williams over 20 years ago, at the time he was stationed at Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas, when he met and married my sister Mary Joyce. They were the happiest of couples but of course they had their share of up's and down's, and the couples spats that the average newly weds usually have, but they stood strong together.

Over the years their travels took them from country to country and back to the United States again and they finally settled in Belleville Illinois. Mary Joyce had two daughters from a previous marriage named Shaneva, and Shamica, and Thomas had one son named Lamar from a previous marriage.

Shamica, Mary Joyce's oldest daughter who's 32 now, has three kids which she wasn't prepared to care for, so Thomas and Joyce had no choice but to either raise them, or have them thrust into the child welfare foster system. Needless to say they opted to raise the grandchildren themselves.

Darren, Joyce’s oldest grandson who's 12 now, was the first of the grandchildren to arrive at their home when he was 10 months old. Then soon there after Daveon would follow at the age of 1 year old. Then shortly there after the arrival of Diamond at 5 days old, there mother dropped them off one by one, and kept on moving.

Thomas Dewey, Williams was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on September 9, 1958. At the very young age of 5 Thomas was introduced to pain, in the form of being an abused child. Throughout his years he learned to mask his pain, by throwing his self full force into his education.

Thomas was considered amongst the smartest at his high school, and graduated at the top of his class. He went on to gain employment working for the IRS as an IRS Agent, up until he decided to go into the Army as a Military Services Member. In 1992 he met Mary Joyce and it was instant love between them, they shared some great times together.

In 2007 while he was still in the Army reserves, Thomas began college courses at AIU online where he completed online his Associates, Bachelors degrees, and in 2010 he received his Masters of Science in Business Administration degree from AIU, from his hospital bed.

Thomas's life started spiraling downhill in early January, of 2009, When Thomas was diagnosed with Leukemia, and over the next year Thomas's family and friends would be tested to see if they could be bone marrow donors for Thomas, but the hospital couldn't find a suitable bone marrow donor or match for him.

Over the next following year Thomas would make numerous trips, back and forth to the hospital and occasionally he would be required to stay months at a time.

Then in October of 2010, when he was placed into Saint Louis University Hospital, this would prove to be his final trip to the hospital, and that is where he said his final goodbyes to his family and friends. You see, Thomas the entire time that he was in the hospital continually told me, and my sister Joyce and his 6 brothers and sisters that he was getting better, and would be coming home soon. So I opted to take care of the grandchildren, so that my sister Joyce could continue to work, and provided for their family and continue to visit Thomas at the hospital.

Thomas had also told his doctors not to tell the family that he was dying, because he didn't want any of us to visit him crying and upset, but that he wanted us to believe that he was getting better so that when everyone visited him, they would be smiling thinking that he was coming home soon, which wasn't the case, He had all of us fooled including his wife Mary Joyce.

The night that Thomas passed, I received a call from the hospital, it was my sister Mary Joyce telling me that Thomas wasn't expected to live throughout the night. I couldn't comprehend what she was telling me, because I had been under the impression that he was coming home, so I hadn't visited him during his final days, not even once; instead I kept the children so that she could visit him.

About 11:59 pm on January 19, 2010 I called Saint Louis University hospital, and asked to speak to the doctor, when he came to the phone, i asked him what was my brother-n-laws condition, and at that time he informed me that my brother-n-law had two brain tumors, which they couldn't remove, and that they also had found tumors in his lungs, so they had did a biopsy to see if the tumors were benign, but something had gone horribly wrong and Thomas had started bleeding out, through the incision.

The doctor told me that he had at that point, put 45 pints of blood into Thomas, and all of which had been pouring out, faster then they could put it in. He also told me that Thomas had 1/2 pint of blood remaining in his body, and when that pint had ran out his heart would stop.

The doctor at that time also told me that Thomas had slipped into a coma, and there was no brain activity, and I asked him how long had there been no brain activity, and he told me 4 hours, it was then that I realized that my brother-n-law was in a vegetative state, and there was no possibility of his recovering.

So I hung up the phone, and put my hands together and prayed for him, and said my goodbyes.

On January 19, 2012 approximately 4 days from now, Thomas will have been gone for 1 year. My sister still calls me sometimes at night, screaming to the top of her lungs that if we pray together hard enough we can bring Thomas back, but I assure her that isn't possible. I'm a realist and I also tell her, that it will never get better, because in order for it to get better Thomas would have to come back to us, and that will never happen, however it will get a little easier as time passes on.

I'm not sure if she's suffering the most, or the children are, as they cry all the time for the only father they ever knew, but I can say one thing for sure, without closure we are all suffering, I find myself crying sometimes looking at the picture of him in his Army Uniform.

My sister Joyce is now raising her 3 grandchildren in a single parent home, and my niece, and my sister and nephews are always in my prayers, and there is never a night that goes by that we don't call each other, and tell each other to sleep with the angles.

For those of you out there who have suffered a great loss of a loved one, there is no answer, but I can tell you this, to never take anyone in your family for granted, and never for one minuet assume that your family members will be there tomorrow, because "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow".

My advice to everyone is, every night before you go to bed, and even throughout the day, make a phone call and tell your family members that you love them, treat everyday as if it were the last, because you never know when it will be the last. Don't let one day go by without telling your loved ones that you love them.

I dedicate this story to my sister Mary Joyce, and my neice and nephews Diamond, Darren and Daveon, and to my brother-n-law E-5, Thomas Dewey Williams, who served his country well, and fought for what he believed in, but lost his battle to Leukemia, and now he serves a higher power, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you so very much for reading this article, and Please say a prayer for my family, and I hope that this article touches someone's heart, and is useful in someway.

Stay blessed.

Sincerely, Viv Darling


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