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grand junction, colorado part one

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the following is an entirely true experience. lots more to come. these words are going to be used in various ways to raise money for sierra so constructive criticism is very welcome. also, my apologies to anyone who lives in grand junction, not just because i insulted your town but also because you have to live there.

Friday morning, 6 am we wake up, pack up, and take off. It would turn out to be the trip of a lifetime, but not necessarily in a good way. We made the decision to go a few days before, when Robby found out the doctors were going to remove his mothers ventilator and she probably wouldn’t survive long after that. So we headed out early on the long road to Grand Junction, Colorado. The 13 hour car ride was pretty uneventful except only when Robby tossed in his sleep so much he tangled the seatbelt around himself and couldn’t get out.

We arrived around 10 pm and zeroed in on a liquor store to ask for directions and found respite in some 22s of Stone Ruination. We check into the Best Western. Robby recognizes the parking lot across the street as a hangout where he and old friends used to skate. I can see he’s faltering in his confidence. We came out to pay respects to his mother and support his 15 year old sister Sierra but the idea of 3 days in a town where some of his worst memories occurred is far less than pleasant. We find a bar called Tenacious Brothers, settle in for Stella Artois and watch a rockabilly band pound away on stage. About 5 minutes into our visit, we can feel the stares at our backs and realize we probably stick out like sore thumbs. Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it.

Saturday we do not enjoy our coffee as we procrastinate downtown because we know what we have to do today. Once we run out of excuses we head to the hospital to see Donna. She was asleep. We leave after trying to wake her for about a half hour, and I think Robby was relieved. We drive to Clifton, the next town east, to see Sierra.

Sierra is tall and thin with half blond, half black hair. She is all smiles despite the fact she has been living in a group home for the past month and her mother is most likely going to take her last breath in a few days. It’s been probably 3 years since Robby and Sierra have seen each other. Before he moved back to California, Robby raised Sierra for the first six years of her life. Their mother had her first stroke during her pregnancy with Sierra and the burden of their care fell on Robby’s shoulders.

He immediately reverted back into big-brother mode. When he asked her where she liked to go for lunch she said “Wienerschnitzel? I don’t know. I only know fast food places.” So we took her to a sushi place which turned out to be a terrible idea. Sushi in Grand Junction? What were we thinking?

We took the opportunity to catch up with Sierra. Apparently Donna and her boyfriend Billy kept a very close leash on her. She barely knew her way around town because she was hardly let out of the house for anything other than school. Relatives rarely checked up on them because Donna was combative and Billy was dodgy. But since moving into the group home, Sierra was able to wear make-up, enjoy the company of her peers and was even going to prom that night with her new boyfriend. I thought everything seemed to be working out for the better for her, which was true, but Robby and I had yet to learn just how horrendous life for Sierra had been.

We took Sierra back to Norma’s house from where she had been picked up. Norma is Sierra’s father’s ex-wife. She is working with social services to become Sierra’s legal guardian. Norma and her husband Nelson have a safe, stable, loving home where Sierra seems to be happy. Its time for her to get ready for the prom, and for us to meet with Robby’s aunt Barbara back at the hospital.

On the drive back from Clifton, Robby is fuming. Sierra confided to him that Billy had molested her. She was uncomfortable revealing details, but told him to talk to her doctor. Dr. Mashburn knew all the details and would be pressing charges against him on Sierra’s behalf.

At the hospital, we met with Aunt Barbara and her daughter Anessa. They are nice enough, but with the risk of sounding judgmental, they fit right in here in Grand Junction. Donna is awake but severely drugged and unable to speak for the breathing tube. She is, however, pointing and nodding and flipping off nurses. We laugh, it’s just like Donna. She drifts to sleep again about an hour later and we leave for a nap at the hotel.

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Updated 23 Jun 2010 at 11:35 AM by Nick

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