Jerry A Greenwell
November 1, 1979 ~April 14, 2003
To relay a little about Jerry (our son) as a
person, I quote from a letter received; "Jerry always seemed like such a great
young man to us. It just so happened that I was at a symposium last week in
the Marriott Hotel, and ran into Jerry. He proudly told me of all of his
accomplishments, including the restaurant, his ongoing studies, and his circle
of friends in the Portland area. He was obviously a young man with his life
and goals together, an he was marching through the world with assurance and
certainty. I was impressed that a kid (which is, of course, how we all want to
remember that generation) had grown up with such confidence and sincerity,
with such a firm grip on the things that really matter in life, like career,
friendships, integrity, social values, family.
Jerry will be missed. And most of all by you and
the rest of his family. Perhaps it will help at this awful time to know that
he was an impressive young man, and that his memory will not fade quickly. He
has left a legacy of hard work, dedication, and determination. Our memory of
him will be of smiles, sincerity and basic, honest values applied to making
the world and his immediate surroundings a better place for all to be. We are
all better off for having known him, however briefly."
Now to his short story. Jerry and his father were
to meet for coffee on Friday morning, April 11th while I had a root canal done
in Portland. Jerry woke that morning at 5:30 with what he thought to be the
flu. He asked his girlfriend to meet us and tell us that he would have to take
a pass on coffee. Lindsay continued to check on him by phone from
work throughout the day and each time he indicated that he just felt weak and
thought he had the flu. At 11:00 PM that evening when she returned home he
urged her to go out with their friends since he still didn't feel that well.
She returned with their roommates at 1:00 AM and he told her his legs hurt.
She went to rub them and noticed the rash. She called her mother, a Registered
RN, and was encouraged to take him to the ER.
When he went to stand, he was unable to do so. His
four roommates carried him to the ER at 2:00 AM April 12th. At 4:00 AM they
diagnosed him with some unknown strain of meningitis and put him in the
Critical Care Unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Lindsay called us at 4:00 and we immediately left
for the hospital. Upon arrival we were updated and went in to see him. He was
alert but in a great deal of discomfort. We were fortunate that we did have the
opportunity to speak to him before he reached the point of not realizing how
sick he was. Some of his last words were "don't you have a longer bed, my
feet are hanging over the end". At the time we were not informed of the
serious situation that existed with Jerry. Little did we know what was to
By mid-day on the 13th the doctors reported
positive results to the medicine being administered. We regained hope that it
would not be long before Jerry would return to us with his positive outlook on
life and infectious smile. But, Jerry kept getting worse despite prayers
from family and friends holding vigil either beside him or nearby in the
waiting room. People are lucky to have one or two good friends but Jerry
excelled in his ability to meet and gain new friends, at one point the number
of people swelled to over 40! We cannot commend the hospital staff's
understanding and patience toward all of Jerry's support network. We were
Sunday evening the doctors kept reporting to us
that Jerry was young and strong and attempted to keep our spirits high. They
were as blunt as possible and at the same time tried to assure us that Jerry
was not suffering due to his medically induced coma. The doctors kept us well
informed and would do so each time we requested an update. None of us had
every heard of Meningococcal Septicemia much less knew of the consequences.
As Jerry's condition worsened, doctors reported
that he had a less than five percent chance of recovery. The disease had
infested all his organs and if by some miracle Jerry survived, his life would
be in a vegetative state.
To sum up this dreaded disease that affected
Jerry, I quote Michael Apicella, MD:
"Meningococcal disease, especially meningococcal
meningitis, is one of the most devastating infections on an individual or
community; reports of documented or suspected cases can engender considerable
panic, even among well-informed hospital personnel. Part of the explanation
for this phenomenon is the fact that meningitis due to Neisseria meningitides
tends to strike young, previously well individuals and can progress over a
matter of hours to death.
Mortality can be very high if the infection is not
treated appropriately, and long term sequedae can be severe even in
successfully managed cases. The mortality and morbidity from meningococcal
disease has changed very little since the 1950s, due principally to the
inability to effectively mange the endotoxin-inducted vascular collapse
frequently induced by this organism."
Few can imagine the magnitude of our loss,
unless, God forbid, they too experience the loss of a child. This loss is even
greater to us knowing now that it could have been prevented.
We pray that our loss of Jerry will not have been
in vain, that perhaps through our efforts no other child, or parent, will have
to endure the horrific result of this tragic, PREVENTABLE, disease.
“They are not dead, who leave us this great heritage
of remembered joy….
They still live in our hearts, in the happiness we
knew, in the dreams we shared—
They still breathe in the lingering fragrance
windblown from their favorite flowers—
They still smile in moonlight’s silver and laugh in
sunlight’s sparkling gold—
They still speak in the echoes of words we’ve heard
them say again and again—
They still move in the rhythm of waving grasses, in
the dance of tossing branches.
They are not dead; their memory is warm in our hearts,
comfort in our sorrow.
They are not apart from us, but a part of us….
For love is eternal; and those we love shall be with
us throughout eternity.”
“After the coldest winter, the warmth of springtime
beckons, and after the darkest night, the light of dawn appears once more.
After the grayest store, a rainbow paints the sky with color, and after the
strongest waves, fragile seashells line the shore. After the deepest loss, God
gives the healing gift of memories to comfort and bring peace of mind when
those we love are gone….”
“We can’t know why the lily has so brief a time to
bloom in the warmth of sunlight’s kiss upon its face before it folds its
fragrance in and bids the world goodnight to rest its beauty in a gentler
place. But we can know that nothing that is loved is ever lost, and no one who
has ever touched a heart can really pass away, because some beauty lingers on
in each memory of which they’ve been a part.”
Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and
letting us share Jerry's life, God Bless you!
Jerry and his family and Jerry and Lindsay .
<Jerry our little baby, young man>
Family Halloween Fun
You may write to Jeri and Jerry at
Jerry and Jeri Brooks Greenwell