Voices – By Brian Uhl

Have you ever thought how much an impact a person’s voice has on you. When you hear a person’s voice, you can almost instantly tell if they are happy, angry, distressed, sad, etc. You recognize who people are by their voice. Voices are unique to each person, even when two people sound exactly the same, there are still enough differences that you can still tell them apart. Voices affect each and every one of us in different ways but they do affect us. My biggest fear is that I will forget what Jessica’s and Kelli’s voices sounded like and the impact they had on me. I still remember them but can tell my memory is starting to fade and it breaks my heart. However, I do have several camcorder tapes with the girls on them to refresh my memory of their voices. I just wish that I didn’t have to use them for that purpose. The other night Wendy and I were talking about what possession we would grab first in case the house was going to be hit by a tornado or if it caught on fire. The first thing that came to mind were the picture albums. They tell our life story with family and friends and include so many pictures of the girls. Along with those picture albums I would also be grabbing the camcorder tapes because without the sound of their voice, the pictures are not quite the same.

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Back to School

The first day of school this year was bittersweet. Jessica would have been a sophomore at SIUE. Kelli would have been a freshman, just starting CHS. I remember when Kelli first started 5th grade. The school combined the 5th and 6th grade classes from all the elementary schools into one building. She was so nervous, coming from a school where there was one class per grade. She knew everyone in that school. She made new friends, still hung out with the old ones, and excelled, just like I knew she would.

Jessica never had a problem making friends. We moved to Collinsville when she was in 4th grade. I remember her teacher telling me that she didn’t know Jessica hadn’t lived here all her life, because she had so many friends so quickly.

Maddy started 4th grade, and it’s her last year before she goes to the 5th and 6th grade center. She said she was nervous about starting school, because at the end of this year, everything changes. I think she’ll do fine. She, like her sisters, has a great personality and doesn’t have any trouble talking!

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Still Overwhelmed

I’m still pinching myself over the turnout we had. Thank you again.

I’m still getting donations. It just blows my mind that people are so generous.

We do still have bracelets and magnets available for sale. You can stop by Tan Rio in Troy, or email me and I can get them to you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Thank You!

I’d like to thank everyone who came to the benefit; who donated silent auction and raffle items; who sent donations to us; who bought bracelets and magnets; and who supported us in our planning. We’re already making lists for next year’s event.

We estimate we had over 350 attend. We raised a little over $10,000. Holy. Crap. At 6:45 we had a line down the sidewalk of people waiting to get in. We had to set up extra tables, but we didn’t run out of food. The Brooks and Dunn guitar went for $500.

It was a great party. Jessica and Kelli would have loved it. There was laughing, there was crying, there was dancing, there was fried chicken. The tables was covered with bright colored tablecloths. We used pineapples, big bright flowers, fish and pompons for the centerpieces.

Pics will be posted soon, I promise. I will update with the Flickr Link.

Saliba Photography generously donated their coverage of the event. Pics will be posted on their website soon, and I will update with the login information. All proceeds from purchased photos will go to Jessica and Kelli’s fund as well.

I am overwhelmed by the support that we have been shown. I cannot begin to express my thanks.

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Fundraiser Update

Just an update on the fundraiser being held this Sunday, July 13, 2008, at 7:00 pm at the KC Hall in Collinsville.

Tickets are still available – if you email me at jesskelli1123@yahoo.com with the number of tickets you need, I will make your reservation and you can pay at the door.

We have lots of donations for the silent auction and raffle prizes including Cardinals tickets, Muny tickets, Grizzlies tickets, Blues and Rams and Cardinals sports memorabilia, wine baskets, an overnight stay and dinner at the Casino Queen, and an autographed guitar from Brooks and Dunn.

Proceeds benefit the Jessica Uhl Memorial Scholarship Fund and the CMS/CHS Cheerleaders.

Hope to see you on Sunday!

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Fundraiser Update

Just an update on the fundraiser being held July 13, 2008.

If you plan to attend, please get your tickets soon. I’d like to get a head count for the food. You can send a check for your tickets, made payable to Kim Dorsey, to:

Kim Dorsey
One Metropolitan Square, 16th Floor
St. Louis, MO 63102

You can also email me at jesskelli1123 at yahoo dot com with a number of tickets you’d like to reserve, and then pay at the door.

So far, we have some great items for the silent auction and raffle. A few of the items are:

Four box seats to the Cardinals game
Four tickets to a Grizzlies game, complete with t-shirts and a cooler
Muny tickets
A one hour massage
Overnight stay and two dinners at the Casino Queen
Various beauty baskets

We’ll also be having a 50/50 drawing and some other fun door prizes.

Thanks in advance for your support. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in July!

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Happy Father’s Day – A Post by Brian Uhl

Happy Fathers Day. Three words that will never have the same meaning to me ever again. What it used to mean was that it was all about me. This was my day, a day where I could sleep in, have breakfast made for me, get some cool presents and basically be a lazy bum all day, because it was about me, a father. On Nov 23rd, 2007, the meaning changed drastically. I went from a father of three to a father of one in an instant. My girls, Jess and Kelli were gone.

Since that day, several significant events have occurred.

In mid-December, their grandfather (Po), had a stress related stroke that was brought on due to the deaths of the girls. Christmas arrived and yes, there was some happiness but I felt more sadness than anything because the girls were not there. Kelli’s birthday arrived, Jan 1st, and all this father could do was pray and cry. Happy New Year didn’t have the same meaning either. My birthday, Jan 10th, arrived. I got some cool presents from Tony and Wendy but I kept waiting for the back door to open and see the girls walk in and yell “Happy Birthday Dad!” It never happened. Mother’s Day arrived and I know that Kim and Wendy felt differently that day as well. Jessica’s birthday arrived, Jun 4th, and all this father could do was pray and cry.

It is now Jun 15th, Fathers Day. What does Happy Fathers Day mean to me now? It isn’t about me, the presents, sleeping in or being a lazy bum. It is about the joy of children, bringing them into the world, raising them, watching them go through their trials and tribulations, seeing the joy on their faces at Christmas time and their birthdays, being there when they need a shoulder to cry on. It is being thankful to have kids you can love.

It is now Jun 15th, Fathers Day. I will celebrate this day with Tony. We will laugh, play some ball, goof off, but I’ll still be waiting for the back door to open and see the girls walk in and yell “Happy Fathers Day!” I just wish it would happen.

God Bless all the fathers in this world. I love you Jess and Kelli.

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Becky Loyet created these scrapbook pages for me. I wanted to share them with you.



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I was rudely awakened at 3:30 this morning by the simultaneous crackle of lightening and the whining of my dog at my bedroom door. It was a pretty intense storm, even Maddy got up and climbed into bed with me. We watched the light show and jumped at the thunder. After the storm blew through, I sent her back to her own bed, after suffering a kick to the hip and an elbow in my eye. She’s small but she’s the only kid I know who can go three wide on her own in a king-size bed.

As I lay there listening to the wrath outside, I was reminded of another storm that happened 19 years ago. I was awakened in the middle of the night by thunder and stomach pains. I was 27 months pregnant with Jessica and due to be induced the following day. After alternating between the couch and the bathroom approximately every 8 minutes, I began to wonder if my stomach pains weren’t actually also contractions. As this was my first pregnancy, every twinge and cramp had me scurrying to the hospital in hopes of getting this kid out into the world. So I started timing my pains and sure enough, it was labor. Whoo-hoo!

I woke up her dad, grabbed my suitcase (which had been packed since March), and began the long walk in the monsoon to the parking lot. As we were leaving, her dad asked if we had time to take the movies back to Blockbuster. Uh, sure, because we can’t afford the late fees? Come ON!!

He held the umbrella as I waddled down the sidewalk slowly, hindered by my elephantine ankles and 80 pounds of baby. A contraction started slicing through me and I stopped, grabbed my belly and began to breathe–and he kept walking with the umbrella. Have you ever tried to yell and pant at the same time? He turned around and said “what are you doing?” Um, having a BABY!!

We got to the car and headed through the rain to Blockbuster. We lived in Abilene, Texas at the time, a town surrounded by three creeks and a subpar storm drainage system. This town would flood at the slightest drizzle. The intersection by Blockbuster was of course awash in a river of rainwater. Brian managed to get through it, drop off the movies, and off we went to the hospital.

After getting settled in the bed and all hooked up to my monitors, the fun began. Neither Brian nor I knew what to expect – we’d never done this before. He kept asking me “is that supposed to happen” and I kept saying “I don’t know.” The monitors would beep and scribble, the heart monitor would whoomp and whoosh, and then the damn thing would slide off my mountain of stomach and everything would go quiet. Then my heart would race because OMG what’s wrong with the baby?!? It would cause the nurses to come in and reset everything and I’d relax, until the next contraction smacked into me.

We’d taken the classes but honestly, nothing prepares you for the experience of childbirth except…childbirth. I was starving, exhausted, confused, scared, and in pain. As it was a Sunday, the hospital was short-staffed, or so it seemed to me. 30 minutes would pass without someone checking on me, then I’d get 5 random doctors in a row coming to observe the chaos.

When I finally had to push, though, everyone came running. It might have been my panicked yelling that sent Brian into the hall for help. The nurse checked my progress and determined I was indeed ready to push. Ya think?

While in the throes of labor, I got wheeled down the hall to another room, with the operating room green painted walls and the big scary shiny light in the ceiling. Brian put on his scrubs and I got down to the business of birthing this baby. They gave me Demoral for the pain, which went right to my head and caused me to freak out. I couldn’t concentrate on my pushing, plus she wouldn’t stay crowned, so the doctor finally had to attach a little suction cup to her head and vacuum her out. That might explain why she had an aversion to the vacuum the rest of her life.

Finally, there she was. Jessica Elaine Uhl. 8 pounds, 1 ounce. 21 inches long. 10 fingers, 10 toes, my nose, a poof of dark hair and squinty eyes. Absolutely lovely.

She would have been 19 years old today. They say the memory of the pain of childbirth fades. I remember it all like it was yesterday, or maybe I’m imposing my new pain on those memories. Either way, the pain of bringing her in the world was worth it, even if she only graced us for a little while. I know I’m a better person for knowing her for 18 years, 5 months and 19 days.

Happy Birthday, baby of mine.

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Tree Huggers

My girls give me a hard time when I don’t recycle.  I remember Kelli digging a plastic six-pack holder out of the trash and lecturing me on the importance of cutting the rings.  She and Maddy sometimes would pull aluminium cans out of the recycle bin and take the pull tabs off, if I forgot.  I would go to throw something away and I’d get a “can you recycle that?” question.  Of course, these are the same children who think nothing of leaving their lights and TVs on in their rooms while they are downstairs on the computer. 

I called Kelli a tree-hugger once.  I had to explain to her what it meant.  I found out recently that Jessica actually emailed a friend a timeline showing how long it took to break down different types of litter after she threw something out the car window. 

So because they really were environmentally aware (electricity and three baths a day notwithstanding), it’s only fitting that some recent tributes to them involve planting trees.

My dad has planted two tall birch trees at his house at the Lake of the Ozarks.  Some of his friends got together and gave him the trees.  They are already over 10 foot tall, and beautiful.  He has planted a yellow rose bush under Jessica’s tree (as she was the Texas baby), and we’re looking for a lipstick rose bush to plant under Kelli’s. 

Becky Loyet has also planted two magnolia trees in her yard in memory of Jessica and Kelli.  These will have deep pink blossoms.  I’m sure they will be gorgeous next Spring.

Today I went to a ceremony at Kelli’s school.  Her class wanted to do something in her memory, so they decided to plant a tree for her.  The teacher who coordinated the effort, Mr. Holland, did an awesome job of coordinating the ceremony. 

A permanent plaque will be installed in a few weeks, which will have Kelli’s name and a quote I found which really spoke volumes to me:  “He who plants a tree, plants a hope.”

I hope these trees grow old, because they weren’t able to.  I hope these trees represent the strength we need to get through this tragedy.  I hope these trees bring a sense of peace to those of us struggling to understand.  I hope these trees become beautiful monuments to two young women who were also beautiful in so many ways.


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