GOOD NEWS: Read an update here!
This isn’t the post I was planning to write about the developments with Kate and Peter’s Treehouse, but it is the one that recent events have warranted I write. Events that have enraged the normally calm and collected Amy, and events that, well, what’s a word STRONGER than “enraged?” Cause I’m THAT.
Stick with me to the end of this post, please, friends, and I hope I can count on you to stand in Amy’s corner with me as she gears up for a fight in the name of her dead children.
As you know, Amy Ambrusko writes the Callapitter blog in an effort to come to terms with the deaths of her two young children, Kate and Peter, who died one year ago in a car accident. Their father’s car left the road and went over an embankment when he had a seizure and by the time the police found the wreckage three hours or so later, Kate and Peter had died.
In the wake of their deaths, Amy has remained incredibly strong, yet human and vulnerable to the rollercoaster of emotions, bright spots, and outright terror she faces every single day as she does her best to function by putting one foot in front of the other. Taking one breath after another. Just keep swimming.
Not long after Kate and Peter died, Amy spoke with her father about memorializing her children in such a way as to do two things: give her some peace in knowing their memories would live on, and do it in a way that benefits OTHER children.
Kate and Peter loved Frick Park. It’s where Amy often took them to play. And Amy thought it fitting to raise the funds to put a playground of some sort in Frick Park for them. Those plans grew and shifted and changed until Amy and the Parks Conservancy decided on a unique treehouse type of play area for children to play in at Frick Park.
She began silently raising funds to pay for the proposed treehouse, and secured donations from 700 people and groups all around the world … including me.
So, with money coming into the conservancy, proposed designs being drawn up, and a perfect spot in Frick Park identified, it appeared everything was moving along just swimmingly.
Until Amy sent me an email a week or so ago, to put me on notice that she was hearing rumblings that some residents in the Frick Park area planned to oppose the treehouse. She and I couldn’t fathom why. On what grounds? We still can’t fathom it.
In that email, Amy told me that a small contingent of residents opposing the treehouse had become quite vocal. A representative with the Parks Conservancy met with them to hear their concerns and told Amy that she didn’t know if they would be able to fight them. That their minds are made up. That one person went so far as to say something along the lines of, “Why does this woman think that just because her kids died and she raised all this money, she’s entitled to put a playground in our neighborhood?”
OMG, SO EFFIN’ SELFISH OF AMY!
In that email, Amy wrote:
It never occurred to me that I might anger people by trying to build a playground. I thought I was trying to do something positive, and add something to not only their neighborhood, but the city of Pittsburgh – something that would benefit lots of people. I guess they see me as selfish. I never expected this. Especially not from Pittsburghers.
It never ever occurred to me either. When I read her email, I was livid. So livid. Shaking with rage. I emailed Mike to get him to calm me down. I emailed Amy all, “UNLEASH ME, PLEASE!”
But Amy kept a cool head. She said no. Not yet. She said there was going to be a meeting of the Regent Square Civic Association on June 7 and that would be the proper place for the opponents to voice their concerns and for Amy and the treehouse designers to perhaps address those concerns and to show the residents what an awesome gift this would be for the children of Frick Park. I stayed leashed and promised Amy I would do what needed to be done to get some supporters to show up at that meeting and that I personally would be there, even though I don’t live in that area. That’s the post I was SUPPOSED to be writing today.
Asking you to come with me. To stand behind Amy and say, “At least LISTEN to the woman. Look at the money she’s raised! Look at this freaking awesome treehouse!”
Yet, today, I received an email from Amy and in the months that I’ve known her and have emailed with her. In the months that she’s suffered through the one year anniversary and a hellish Mother’s Day, she’s never shown anger. Never raged at the unfairness of life. Never said to me, “God. I’m so freaking pissed off right now.” She’s been through the anger stage and right now, she’s so level-headed when you can be damned sure if my children perished, I would nourish a deep-rooted anger at everyone and everything and it would fester and I would change and I would become an unbearable human being until the day I died with clenched fists and a scowl on my face. Amy just keeps swimming.
So you can imagine my surprise when I received an email from her today and the subject line was “OMG” and there was a word in that email that blinked at me like a check engine light … RAGE.
It was a short message and I was in tears by the end.
Amy spoke with Doug Shields’ office today. It seems this small but vocal group of opponents to the treehouse have somehow managed to get Doug Shields on their side. Doug Shields’ chief of staff told Amy that they are requesting she pull the proposed treehouse from that part of Frick Park and go put it somewhere else. In someone else’s backyard.
Brace your freaking selves, friends.
Said people don’t want it in their backyard and if everyone built a memorial in Frick Park it would look like a cemetery. When I said absolutely not, until everyone’s voices are heard, she said, ‘Do you really want your kids’ names to be part of this controversy?’
Doug Shields chief of staff went beyond the pale in being cruel and went so far as to play the You’ll Tarnish The Names of Your Dead Kids Card.
After I read her email, I begged again, “UNLEASH ME. PLEASE.”
And she did.
Hear me well.
Amy could never and will never be a disappointment to the memories of her dead children, even as she fights this callousness and cruelness. Can you imagine, you guys, for just one moment, what she’s been through? Wouldn’t you feel an almost unbearable desire to pay tribute to your children in a way that ensures their brief presence here on earth isn’t forgotten?
It’s why the park near my house has the David J. Nelson baseball field, and every time I go there, I look at his picture, and I’m reminded of how fleeting life can be.
It’s why there’s a special place in Oak Hollow Park dedicated to Staff Sergeant David Wieger. I’ve stood in that space and looked at his picture and paid my respects to him.
It is parents saying, “This was my child. I’ll never forget him. Please don’t you ever do it either.”
Amy isn’t asking for a free ride, or even an easy ride. She just wants the opportunity to state her case for the treehouse at the meeting, and Doug Shields’ office is trying to stand in her way.
I’ve taken on some fights in my five years as a blog writer, and if there’s one thing I learned from BRESMA, it is that if you fight for something you truly believe in, you can make a difference.
At this point, Amy is still on the agenda for the meeting on June 7, and if that remains true and if you agree that Amy should at least get to speak her case, then will you come with me? A physical show of support made up of Pittsburghers, TRUE FREAKING PITTSBURGHERS. Anyone that wants this project canned or moved without at least giving Amy a chance, has hereby had their Pittsburgher Card revoked. A special session is planned for 6:00 p.m. at the Wilkins School Community Center.
As for Doug Shields, will you email or call him? Let him know you support Amy’s project at least to the point that you strongly object to their efforts to stand in her way to put a treehouse in Frick Park, the place Kate and Peter loved to play. That you object to their methods. That you object to their callousness. That Amy chose Pittsburgh as her haven as she endures every day without her children and that by God, we’re going to show her that wasn’t a mistake.
Show her what a true Pittsburgher is.
You can email Doug Shields’ office here or at email@example.com.
You can call his office here: 412-255-8965
And you can sure as effing hell tell him I sent you.
I’ll keep you posted.