This morning, I was privileged to read a very touching story in a Geoff Tate group, a story that was written by Sherri Kirkwood to honor her late sister, Diana Kirkwood-Retzlaff. This story reminded me of why, despite some people’s opinions to the contrary, I still care about GT. It was nice to read about the lovely, compassionate side of GT that I’ve seen myself in person, the side that I know is still there. With her permission given, here is Sherri’s GT story:
My sister, Diana, loved Queensryche and her favorite song was “Silent Lucidity”. My only sister, she fell ill on October 1st, 2011. Back in 2006, my sister and i quit talking because of my decision to marry a guy i had just met and my sister asked me to wait at least 6 months, but i didn’t listen. I married the guy, then my sister and i quit talking. About three to four years later i was at work when i got a text from an unknown number asking if i had gone fishing lately. I replied back “who is this? ” The reply i got was ” your sister, ” now, i have many female friends that call me sister, so i asked which one. She replied Diana. We slowly got back into each others lives. I had only lived about 4 blocks away from her for a couple years when we weren’t talking. I got a text message from my sister’s husband on October 1st, 2011 saying only “ems here di dead. ” that’s it. I jumped in my car and sped out of my driveway. When i got one block over, i could see the lights at the end of her street. I sped to her house, going through the stop signs. I got there and there was only one rescue squad there, i beat the ambulance and the firetruck and they were only about 6 blocks away. I got inside her house and saw my sister laying on the floor, a rescue squad member performing cpr. I broke down. I had already lost one sibling. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing another. I lost one of my brothers on 3/27/90 to an accident. He was 16, i was 13. Now I’m watching my sister die. They had to take me out of the house when the ambulance got there. I had to call my parents, but i was crying so uncontrollably that my dad couldn’t understand me so he handed the phone to my mom. All i could get out was “Diana is dead get over here!” It only took my parents about five minutes to get there. The whole time the ems crew were trying to get her breathing started and get a pulse so they could get her to the hospital. They finally got a very weak pulse and intubated and loaded up in the ambulance. My folks took their vehicle, i rode with my sisters husband and we beat the ambulance to the hospital because he was driving on the highway in excess of 100mph. She was in a coma due to what they called an anoxic brain injury. She suffered from cardiac arrest that lead to respiratory arrest. Her husband gave my parents power of attorney over my sister. For several days, i could see that she was in there and prayed every minute i could for God not to take another sibling from me, Let alone my only sister. One night, she had another cardiac arrest, and the next day, i could no longer see my sister in her eyes. She was gone, but her body was still on life support. My folks called a family meeting after many neurologists said that IF she lived, she would be in a persistent vegetative state. I didn’t care, i told my mom i would take her home and take care of her. But after many tears and tests, it was decided to turn off life support. We decided on Sunday, October 23 at 12:22pm. Many questioned who chose the time and why. I insisted that if we had to turn it off, i get to choose the time. The time, 12:22 is the birthday of my brother that died, 12/22/73. Diana hung on due to extreme nursing incompetence who confused what the Dr ordered. She had been on heavy medications prior to her falling ill because of many medical problems, so the Dr ordered her morphine every two hours after they removed life support but the nurses didn’t give it to her per drs orders because they would come in with her meds and since she couldn’t voice any pain or any reactions to stimulus, they thought she didn’t need it. When my mom found out, she talked to the Dr, who my mom had worked with many times being a scrub tech in the OR for ten years. The Dr chewed the nursing staff a new one and ordered a morphine pump. They got the pump started on Monday. On the morning of Tuesday, October 25 at 6:06 am, i held my sisters hand as her heart took its last beat and her lungs took their final breath, then her body was finally at rest and no longer in pain. Now, before we quit talking, she had the Queensryche logo tattooed on the back of her calf. When i found out through a friend that Queensryche with Geoff Tate was coming to the Cotillion Ballroom in Wichita, i knew i had to go. I got tickets 0,1,2,3, and 4. I took two of my sister’s kids, my niece Kim, and my nephew, john. Along with my son, Drake, and johns gf Kelsey. I also took my sister. I took a bottle of my sister’s ashes. Her ashes were sitting on the table during the entire show. When my nephew and i went to the outside smoking garden, we passed the booth where they were selling the shirts, keychains, cds, etc. On the way back in, i stopped to look and that’s when i spotted the meet and greet passes. They were $50 each. I had already spent $100 on tickets and the rest of my money on drinks and food for them, so i asked my nephew if he could buy one for me so i could get pics and autographs. He didn’t bring his debit card but asked the lady running the booth if he knew his debit card number could be buy something. She had one of those apps that he could enter his card number and stuff and sign it with his finger. Much to my surprise, he bought 5 passes!! I broke down crying once again. I told him i would pay him back and he said if i hooked him up with my tattoo guy to get his tattoo in honor of his mom we would call it even. No problem!! After the concert, everyone without the passes was escorted out and then we all could start the meet and greet session. We all got our ticket stubs signed, cups signed, my shirt signed, the back of my phone signed, and the bottle of my sister’s ashes signed. I was able to spend a few extra minutes with Geoff and told him the story of my sister and why i brought the bottle of her ashes. He had tears welling up in his eyes as i told him about my sister. He did tell me that she was probably rocking along with us in paradise. It was an experience i will never forget.