Memorial created 08-19-2006 by
Madeline Delaney & Jeremiah Thomas Ragon
February 6 2001 - October 20 2003
Madeline Delaney 2~6~01-10~20~03
These pages are in memory of two of my children that had to leave this earth when they were very young. I have only one picture of my son, Jeremiah, as my husband kept the scrapbook I made that contained the only other pictures I had. I have since added to my family. Rowan, born in October, 2007. He is a smart little man with the longest eyelashes I've ever seen. And Elliott (Ellie), born in June, 2009. She is the happiest little girl. Rowan takes good care of her. I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to be called "Mommy" again. Thank you to the very special person who donated out of the goodness of her heart and made these pages possible, so that I might share my story. Please stop by and sign the guestbook as often as you like.
My story is odd in that it did not happen directly to me, though I am the only one who can tell it. It began when I was a girl of 18, completing my first semester of my final year in high school. An awkward time for many seniors, trying to find their place and trying to please the parental figures with the future prospect of college, I was stuck right there with the best of them. My way of "dealing" came down to food and control. It wasn’t, as many assume, about being fat. It was about controlling one aspect of my young life that no one else could. It was about pleasing with appearances and it was about secrecy. I became involved with my church, relying on the one thing I knew I could, when no one else could understand. It was a night of youth and messages, gathering together around our one common ground. It was that night that my life changed forever. As the excitement of the young people arose, and the music filled our hearts, we began wandering the sanctuary. It was during an upbeat piece that I first clamped eyes on him. When our eyes first met, I knew he was The One I would marry. I filled the hunger in my stomach with him, my days and nights and entire physical being revolving around only him. He was 26 when I met him, and perfect. He said he supported my idea of one day becoming a minister. He said I was beautiful. He said it was okay to eat. He said he had never loved another the way he loved me. He respected my wish to wait until I was married to have a physical relationship with him.
Madeline and Mommy
Six months later, I was pregnant. I had quit my job and moved in with him several months before. Looking back, I cannot honestly say that he forced me to do those things. It was a passive aggressive approach, in which he would take his anger out on me, first with the guilt trips, later the cold shoulder, until the abuse became verbal, mental, emotional, sexual and physical. He had taken away my family and friends by telling me I was too good for them, and if I loved him, I would make him happy. I was to start at the local University in the fall, studying religion and art, my biggest passions. By this time, I had gathered enough money for our apartment. He had given me a car for my high school graduation a few months prior, but I was not allowed to drive it. I was to be dropped off and picked up in the same places, daily, much like a child leaving for her first days in elementary school. He no longer held a job for longer than a few months at a time, and so he began sitting in on my classes. When he could hold a job, he would work nights, and have me sleep in the backseat of his car. Sometimes he would sneak me in and have me sleep on the love seat in the hotel lobby, where he briefly worked. Who knew the apartment I had worked hard for would soon become my prison cell? By November of that year, I was no longer attending classes regularly, and by December, not at all. I was put on bed rest, due to Pre-eclampsia (a pregnancy related condition). Basically, it was my job to stay hidden and produce his offspring. You might have asked yourself by now, Why didn’t you just leave? It was easier said than done. I’ve thought that maybe I didn’t want my mother to think she’d been right about him all along. I think what I was most scared of was what he might do to me and my family if I were to leave. He carried a gun with him everywhere he went, and, though he had never pointed it at me out of anger, oftentimes he would make a show of taking it from its hiding place in the waistband of his pants, and placing it on the table. He was just letting me know that ultimately, he was the one who would decide my fate. I kept telling myself that things would get better when the baby was born. His heart would surely soften. Right? Jeremiah was born on March 7th, 1999. He seemed to me, an old soul, very quiet. He would just take everything in, hardly letting the world know of his existence. The next several days were a whirlwind of nurses and doctors and visitors. But something wasn’t right. Six days after my son was born, he became ill. There was no explanation; no one seemed to be able to figure out what exactly was wrong with this lethargic little boy. He was a week old when the doctors deemed the real world safe enough for our baby. We had four days with him at home, taking temperatures every four hours, three different ways, trying to feed him, and adjusting to this new life for all three of us. On March 18th, we were to bring our son into the Dr.’s office. He sent us straight to the hospital for x-rays, or something like that that would not have made any difference. For those of you that have dealt with your suffering child, you know how taxing that can be, even on you. The next 12 hours were filled with sticks and needles, bleeding that would not stop, specialists coming in from all over the city, and our families, suddenly congregating around us. Jeremiah was transferred to Riley Children’s hospital where we chose to take him off life support, rather than letting them continue to resuscitate him repeatedly. He died that night, March 18th, 1999. The worst day of my life. So far.
Jeremiah Thomas 3~7~99-3~18~99
After a month, my body began healing from the ordeal of having a baby, and from the cesarean section. After three months, I knew I should go back to work. In August, we tied the knot, deciding that after having had a child; it was the right thing to do. I stood up there, knowing that it was not going to be forever. Again, I thought things would change. I thought how can it get any worse? It was during this aftermath of our son’s death that my husband began to stray. He would come home late, beyond anything reasonable, immediately shower, and steer clear of my physical person every chance he would get. The abuse got worse. He would use me for sex when he couldn’t get it anywhere else, and always, always turn me so I was facing away from him. Fifteen months after my son’s birth, I was pregnant again. He insisted that I was having an affair, and that this pregnancy was the product of my affair with my father. He said he would know that was true if it were a girl, because he was only capable of producing boys. The bruises came more frequently, and I was getting weak. This time, I was working. I was the breadwinner for our household. I honestly don’t know what he did with his days. Occasionally he would bring home a hundred dollars, maybe two. Not very often. So much went wrong when I was pregnant the second time. It started with cramping. My abdomen swelled up so that I looked to be in my seventh month when in fact I was only 14 weeks. I have Crohn’s Disease and thought it was just flaring up. I went to the hospital, where they found I had E Coli 0157. He wouldn’t come visit me, insisting I wasn’t sick and didn’t need him. For seven-and-a-half months, I was in and out of hospitals, being treated for active Crohn’s Disease, having gallstones, having my gallbladder removed at 30 weeks gestation, having a blood transfusion, and being put on IV nourishment. I went for two weeks once without eating, not by choice. It was so painful; I had already lost about 35 pounds since the pregnancy began. During this time, he would not work, insisting on staying by my side for the most part. Our heat was shut off at home. For the first time in my life, I felt lucky to have physical ailments that required me to stay in the hospital. I tried to leave him during this time, but I was not strong enough. I was scared about my future; scared of what he would do if I left him for good. The bruises got bigger, taking months to fade. I tried to tell his family, and told them to not say anything to him. They listened for about three days. Then he came home and it got worse. He shoved me into doors, he broke all of our phones when I tried to call for help; he was verbally abusive. Again, I thought that things would change when the baby came. I was in the hospital on February 6th due to early contractions and severe pain they later found out was because of a liver abscess. My doctor had taken me off all IV pain medication, and was intent on sending me home. I asked him if he would keep me one more night, to see how I did taking my medication orally (that was usually an obstacle due to all the vomiting). He agreed, and late that evening, while I was hooked up to the monitors that followed my baby’s heartbeat, I began having severe pain. I could not sit still, I began vomiting uncontrollably, and my baby’s heartbeat had dropped drastically. Several nurses came running in, and in the midst of it all, an emergency cesarean was decided upon, 6 weeks before my due date. Madeline came into the world that night, giving me the second chance I wanted at being a mommy again. She had a little trouble breathing, but was otherwise healthy and ready to go home after 13 days in the NICU. When Maddie was 9 months old, I was strong enough to leave for good. Nothing had changed. Marriage counseling did not help. It took so much work getting him to even agree to go with me. I needed someone to see him for who he really was. I needed help! On November 16th, 2001, I took Madeline and left. I told him I wasn’t trying to keep his daughter from him, but that I needed to find myself again. Only after that, I told him, would I be able to entertain the idea of coming home. I never intended to go back to him. I told my family to make sure I didn’t. They were, are, my backbone. On December 19th, 2001, I was again hospitalized with Crohn’s Disease pain. He brought Madeline to see me. They arrived to find my dad visiting me. I assume, in his mind, he thought my father and I were involved in some kind of twisted affair, which we were not. He took my daughter and ran. I was so afraid I would never see her again. I decided to file for divorce. In response, he counter-sued, and gained emergency temporary custody. He made several false allegations against me, including suicidal behavior and violent physical abuse toward my daughter. Everyone who knows me knows that I have never loved anything or anyone more than my own children. Everyone who knows me knows I am not capable of that kind of behavior. We battled the custody issue for a long time. I think that the attorneys involved and the guardian ad lidem were beginning to see through his façade. He quieted down for a few months. Then, September 17th, 2003, he, his girlfriend and my daughter were involved in a car accident involving a hit and run and a drunk driver. His girlfriend was killed, he was seriously injured, and my daughter had a broken leg and required a few stitches. I brought her home with me until he was well enough to keep her again overnight. We seemed to communicate better during this time. I kept my wall up, being on guard for his ridiculous games. For about three weeks, he stayed with his parents, in their home. Madeline was the one who would be most influenced by this drastic change in her life. I mean, how do you really explain something like that to a two-and-a-half year old? What happened next will forever remain etched in my mind. It is something I relive, and will continue to relive all the days of my life. I awoke October 20th, 2003 to a beautiful cloudless day. I did not have Madeline that day, but was feeling under the weather, so I stayed in bed most of the day, trying to rest. My sister called me in the early evening to tell me of a story she had seen on the news. She said a man on the south side of town had murdered his two daughters, one six months, the other, 2 years, before taking his own life. I just knew it wasn’t Madeline. I mean, that was impossible. I had just seen my little girl a few days ago and she was fine. She said to call his mother and make sure. When I tracked her down, I learned she was at the Coroners office. Not again! Not again, I thought. I dialed my sister’s number and ran to my living room where I saw my dad. "He killed my baby! He killed my baby!" I screamed into the phone and to my dad. I don’t remember much after that. I was a 23 year old widow, mommy of two with no living children. The past six years or so had been erased from my life. My birthday was five days after she died, but I don’t remember it. For months, my memory was cloudy. I began to put bits and pieces together, learning that he had shot my little girl in the head, learning of the paranoia going on inside his mind. It’s those final thoughts that he had that I will never know. Maybe I don’t want to. One thing that has been with me this whole time is my faith. Some days, that’s all I have. I speak of my children often, because they are an intrical part of my life. I did not know I believed in Evil before I met him. Now, I just want to rid women’s lives of the narcissistic sociopaths preying on girls, just like me. It’s what I imagine the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s Disease are like, the way one goes through life after having experienced such tragedies, wandering around your mind, trying to hold on to that memory you know is there, yet never being able to fully grasp it. I’m just waiting to hold on.
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