As Paul Vertucci sits at the upright piano in the corner of the Kobacker House living room, the words of his song strike a chord for the listener. They speak of deep love and an even deeper loss that few can imagine.
This Paul is a far cry from the Paul who, a little over a year ago, found out that he and his wife Amie were finally pregnant. After many failed attempts, the couple was overjoyed.
Their joy was short lived when, two months into the pregnancy, Amie went to the doctor with concerns about the serious back pain she was experiencing. Much to their dismay, the doctors discovered that Amie suffered from a rare syndrome that caused multiple cancerous tumors.
For the young couple who had tried so hard to start a family, the news was made more difficult knowing that any treatment or even pain medicine could harm their unborn baby girl whom they had decided would be called Bianca.
Amie toughed it out for the baby she and Paul so desperately wanted to have. At 22 weeks, Amie needed to be hospitalized at Riverside Methodist Hospital to stabilize her condition and get a biopsy. While the news about the cancer wasn't good - the tumors were malignant - the news about baby Bianca was good. On an ultrasound in the hospital, Bianca had a strong heartbeat and was moving around.
And just like that, everything changed. "It happened so fast, I wasn't even in the room," says Paul. Amie had miscarried Bianca. They were both devastated beyond measure. A nurse in the hospital contacted OhioHealth Hospice to get the couple linked into extensive grief support services to help them cope with the loss of the infant who nurses say only lived for a few minutes.
During the following months, Amie and Paul talked with a hospice psychologist and attended an infant loss support group at Kobacker House. "She cried a lot during the group which she didn't do before," observes Paul. "She was in so much pain."
In early October, Amie received the news that the cancer was too wide-spread and aggressive to treat. Her oncologist recommended comfort care to the grieving couple and Amie was admitted to Kobacker House.
Kobacker House is OhioHealth Hospice's inpatient unit that offers intensive, 24-hour care for hospice patients who need more medical management and care. "One of the first few nights we were there, we were watching a movie and she turned to me and said 'I like it here.' That is when I realized she wasn't coming home," says Paul.
They both felt that, at Kobacker House, they were more in control - more in control of her symptoms, her pain and of their time together. Amie died peacefully with her family surrounding her on October 9 - less than eight months after they had first found out about baby Bianca.
Paul still attends hospice's widower's support group and meets with the same therapist he came to know and trust along the way to help him cope with the unimaginable loss he experienced.
As a music director for a local church, Paul tends to express his grief through music. An accomplished song writer and piano player, Paul shares his talents with Kobacker House's patients and families whenever he comes to visit. Today, he sings a song from his heart about Bianca and the many things he wished they could have done together.
Of the support he continues to receive to this day, Paul says that everyone needs to be able to reach out to someone when you are going through a time like this. "Especially in these economic times, programs like these tend to get cut or under funded because they may seem unimportant but, to people like me and Amie, these are not ancillary services - they are a life line," says Paul.
For more information on ways you can support the Grief and Bereavement programs at OhioHealth Hospice, call Katie Webster at (614) 566-3734. To find out more about upcoming grief support groups and programs for you or someone you know, please call (614) 566-5377.