The first time I heard the name Roxanne, I was on vacation with my family back in early ’70s. My family drove across the country from Pittsburgh to California. One of the nights we spent in Utah, at a motel. I remember swimming in the motel pool and that’s where I met a girl named Roxanne. I loved her name when I heard it.
Fast forward to February 22, 1984, I had just given birth to my third and last child, a girl. Full head of black hair and very exotic looking. My husband and I could not agree on a name. Finally, I suggested Roxanne, the name I remembered and loved from years ago. It was settled. We brought Roxanne home. When Roxie was one year old, I left my husband and she became my child only. I raised her and my two other daughters, Amy and Beth, alone.
And so began our lives together, us four girls against the world. We were fearless, especially Roxanne. We lived in a two-story house with the yard next door elevated. I told my daughters that if there was ever a fire, they should go out their window onto the porch roof and jump into the yard next door. One day Amy and Beth decided to put this theory to the test. They lured Roxie out the window, then wouldn’t let her back in until she jumped. Well, she did. She then wanted to do it again. She was five years old. When she was ten, she was punished and sent to her room. She decided to escape by tying bed sheets together. Roxanne fell and broke her leg. She spent months in a wheelchair with a cast. When she was thirteen, she got the flu. I came home from work and I knew she was dying. I took her to the emergency room and that’s when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. From then on, she had to take insulin shots to live. Can you imagine being at that age of thirteen and being so different? It was very hard for her. Roxanne was always pissed off about having diabetes. In 2004, I got a phone call from my oldest daughter, Amy, that Roxanne was in a coma and that she was brain-dead. I rushed to Pennsylvania from Maryland (where I lived at the time). When I got to the hospital I saw Roxanne all hooked up to machines. I rushed to her bed and looked at the child I had raised and wondered if she would live. Or ever be the same. Roxie spent two months in the hospital. She never totally recovered from that. After that though, she always had a do-not-resuscitate order in her chart, at her request.
Since 2004, after the coma, Roxie has been in the hospital at least eight times. All for the same reason—diabetic complications. The last time she was in the hospital, the spring of 2008, she had been sick. I went to work one day and when I got home I found her lying on the bathroom floor, barely conscious. I called 911 and she was taken to the hospital. When she came home a week or so later, I told her that I could not handle finding her dead at the house. I urged her to take better care of herself. I thought she was, until December 29, 2008—the day she died. A part of me died that day, also. Now it’s us three girls, but we are still fearless. Truth be told, we are more fearless. Part of her legacy to us that life is not to be taken for granted. Be good to yourself now. Love people now. Be happy now. Even though I would give anything for just a moment with her, I am glad she is free.