Eric & Heather Pomo
Eric Pomo July 6, 1971-November 30, 2001
Heather Pomo February 7, 1974-October 31, 2002
This passage adapted from the life sketch given at the Eric's funeral by his wife's father with whom they lived. Submitted by his loving wife, Heather:
Eric Stephen Pomo was born on July 6, 1971 to Roberto and Geraldine Pomo. He attended schools in Provo, Pleasant Grove, Orem, and Hawaii where he graduated. He lived in Hawaii for eight years and was an active person, outgoing, very personable, fun loving, and exciting. He was a talented artist; he loved to travel and was fascinated by other cultures. He travelled to Korea where he taught English. He also met a woman from Nepal named Sophie and they were married in Hawaii. Eric worked in a pathology laboratory; he also worked AIDS patients in a hospice, and with the Association of Retarded Citizens in Hawaii. He always had an affinity for that kind of work and he enjoyed the life he made.
One day his life suddenly and dramatically changed. As he was crossing the road with his wife a car ran him down, causing major breaks in his back in four places. Previous to these awful back injuries, Eric had suffered pains that started when he was 16, but were misdiagnosed. It was not until breaking his back that he was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). Eric was not like the many people who have this condition and manage to lead fairly normal lives. Some people suffer this disease in its most extreme form of and Eric belonged to that group. Eric's back was so broken it would slip in and out when he lay back, but the seriousness of his back condition was not understood until later. His AS, along with his back injuries, had a dramatic impact upon his life. While in Hawaii his marriage fell apart, and Eric fell apart. The medical profession was not properly treating his pain and he turned to Heroin for a time. No doctor in the Pacific basin had the training to fix his back so he was in terrible condition for two years.
Finally his family talked him into returning to Utah and this he did in 1996. He was here for a while and was having many back problems, such as having to wear a brace to keep his fracture from slipping, also he suffered a kyphosis, being stooped at a 40-degree angle. He fractured his spine a fifth time, at the top. He found a doctor who was prepared to perform high-risk surgery to try to help him - a spinal osteotomy/fusion. In March of 1997 he had the surgery. In 13 ½ hours they put in two titanium rods, twelve screws, a donors pelvis, and part of his hip. Five doctors participated, opening his whole back and left side, collapsing his lung, and breaking his spine in 13 places. He had a 25% chance of dying on the table, and a 50% chance of being paralysed. The surgery straightened him out and he was able to look straight forwards again. He recovered relatively rapidly and was able to do more things. It was a renewal of life.
Still, he was here in Utah, unable to work, recovering from major surgery, rejected by his wife. On a day in April our daughter Heather went to a dance. While at that dance a young man started bothering her. She was trying to get away from him when suddenly another man came across the room, butted in and acted like he was Heather's date. Eric rescued her and proceeded to charm her in his smooth way.
As we go through life we all long for that magic moment when we meet that special someone. You can probably guess that's what happened for Heather and Eric. A few days later as I was walking up the driveway toward our house, Heather came around the corner of our garage, shuffling behind her was Eric a month after surgery. He was skinny, had a brace on, and a strange walk. A short time later I was in the house with my wife. She explained to me that they have magic, and of course being a father who wanted his daughter to marry an Internet chief executive that will do a lot of things I was concerned. Quickly, I learned that there was something special about this person. He had a great gift and that gift he gave to my daughter; that gift was his love. On September 14 of that year they were married in Las Vegas. We were fortunate in that we had a mother-in-law apartment where Heather lived. They moved into that apartment, and Eric became a member of our family.
They had 6-7 months there where he was still active enough to do things, and they were busy. I'm so glad they had that time together, because soon his health began to decline rapidly. It is open for debate, I guess, whether it was the car accident, or the disease, or the surgery, or a combination of al three, but either way his health greatly deteriorated. That winter he went through a pain management clinic that helped but not enough. In May of 1999 my father-in-law Jack's health started failing. Heather and Eric agreed to go live with them and provide care. They went and lived with Jack and Jean and they provided care. With Eric's experience in Hospice he knew what to do, bathing him and taking care of him, and he was a tremendous attendant and he took care of Jack. It is ironic that Heather learned care taking from Eric, because shortly afterwards she did those very same things for him.
Eric's condition was really getting bad, he was in extreme pain, he had to take a lot of medications, and all the time his health was deteriorating. It was decided that maybe a hip replacement would help because they were a major source of his tremendous pain. Even the heaviest narcotics failed to deal with the pain. He would cry, but he would never complain. On November 30, 1999 he had his left hip totally replaced. He never did recover from that surgery, nor did the pain go away. He would get home health care and do physical therapy and improve for a short time but then would deteriorate again.
In September and October, 2000 Eric was placed in Hospice care and we thought he was going to die. He acquired aspiration pneumonia, had been unable to gain weight after the hip surgery and was a little over 100 pounds. When he was healthy he was 200 pounds and even after back surgery he was 140 pounds. Hospice was talking about months or less for him to live, but he pulled through.
Eric stayed with us but he obviously wasn't in good physical condition, he just kept deteriorating, and deteriorating. He was put in the hospice again in October 2001, and again they said he was dying. On November 29th I was at work. My wife Dalene wasn't feeling well and she was home from work. Eric sat up (his condition had worsened and he would sometimes fall asleep sitting up), he fell forward off the bed and hit his head on the side of the table, so my wife and Heather took him to the emergency room. I came home from work and went down to see him. He was sitting on a chair and he was talking to Heather on the phone and was child like, frightened, and crying. The last few days he had been much more upset than usual. We later found out that he had told friends he was dying soon but had not told us, he courageously faced it alone. I tried to help him what little I could, but Eric only wanted Heather. He would only take minimal assistance from anyone else. He wanted the love of his life there. I gave him some juice so he could take some medications and he was a little relaxed, and he went to sleep. Heather and I were working on a paper she had due in the morning while he slept. It was her intention to get up in the morning and finish the paper and turn it in. Instead, she stayed up with Eric most of the night. He really had trouble breathing, and they both knew what was happening but neither would say it out loud. About 6:30 a.m. Heather came running up the stairs and we knew, Dalene was going to go down there and she was panicked, so I went running down stairs to his bed and Eric was beyond pain. His sojourn was over; he had passed away in his sleep peacefully, with Heather by his side. The way most of us would want to go.
That is the sketch, but as I worked on it I thought, is that the man? The answer is of course not. Are we a birth date, a death date, or are we something else? I learned a lot of lessons from Eric. Trying to define his character is tough because I've learned that Eric may be one of those most misunderstood people. When he was a young healthy man people complained about how different from the family he was, such a "free spirit", but they didn't know the man I am convinced. As he told stories about those days, he had one thing in common with everybody reading this today and that is we all want to be loved, and we all want to have a special person to love, in that respect Eric was no different. He wanted to be loved and when he met Heather he got that love and he gave that love and it was special. He was awfully kind, Heather has told me so many stories I can't get them all in and I won't even try to. He was a broken man in the body, and Heather would take him to a pain clinic in Salt Lake City. They had no money. Eric received $600 a month for them both to live on, and they paid $400 just for medications. We gave what we could. As Eric and Heather would go in, he would be giving his money away to other people that he felt were less fortunate than he was. He would do things like that constantly. There was a retarded child named Mark that grew up across the street from him and Eric would protect him from the bullies. Eric did all these things and he never did it for credit or anything else, he did it because he cared.
Now a lot of us when we met Eric saw a man with a broken body and a person who is disabled. Heather never saw that. The physical ailments he had meant nothing to her because Heather had special eyes and could see into the soul and he knew that. They loved each other tremendously but unfortunately for Heather her love travelled a short path, they were married just three years and three months. The majority of that time he was housebound. He would still get up but he was very ill. Sometimes people would see Eric outside, but they never saw him paying the price for a week after that.
He was kind of stylish. When Heather and Eric first met he was always dressed up, he had style. He really was charming. Eric loved to tell or hear a joke. Most of his jokes were on medical workers. He would ask a new aid on the first day of work if they would check his catheter, which he didn't have. He would act delirious and ask good friends who they were and again laugh as they worriedly told him. If he had a new Doctor, which was often, at first touch Eric would scream as if in pain and then laugh as the Doctor recoiled in horror. He really had fun even while sick.
One of Eric's many problems was that he couldn't breathe easily because all his ribs were fused together; Eric had no flexibility. At night he would sometimes cause panic because he would go a substantial time without breathing and that took some getting used to. My father saw him several weeks ago and wrote me a letter as he thought Eric was dying on the spot because of his breathing. His stomach, between the drugs and the disease, got so that he couldn't keep food down. Keeping medication in him to deal with the pain was a never-ending problem. For two years he vomited frequently.
Some people that have this disease have a relatively mild condition, but Eric's case was severe. There are several people that belong to a kind of club for this disease that would come over and visit with Eric and support him and my heart-felt thanks goes to each and every one of them because it meant so much to Eric and Heather. He really couldn't get out so anytime anybody came he loved to see them, and to talk to them. During this whole process over the years with Eric there has been a constant theme, and that is our obligation to the "Eric's" of the world. There are many disadvantaged people out there, many "Eric's" of the world. I don't want this to be misunderstood, but one lasting impression I've had after Eric's death is that we have had many offers of help, and when he was alive we had some, but the point I would like to get across to all of us is that we must identify the Eric's and provide the help when they are alive instead of after death. I saw people doubt Eric so often; we tried to get medical assistance for him yet doctor after doctor, hospital after hospital, and people just didn't want to deal with someone so sick.
I had a strong feeling that he was greatly misunderstood and they did not appreciate his illness and I know people did not appreciate his strength of character. His gift to us as a family was his character, his courage, his stamina, as he stayed with us. In closing, I would like to read part of a scripture, Matthew 25:40, "Verily I say unto you in as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me". I would like to repeat that one more time and let's think about it. Eric's gone, and many of you did wonderful things for him, but there are "Eric's" out there that need our help, "Verily I say unto you in as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me".~ To read messages left by members of KickAS.org for Eric's family click below:Messages
Heather Pomo February 7, 1974-October 31, 2002
Heather Garnet Collins Pomo, 28, died on October 31, 2002, in Orem, Utah. She was born February 7, 1974, to Paul and Dalene Collins of Provo, Utah. She was married to the love of her life, Eric Stephen Pomo, who preceded her in death on November 30, 2001. She nursed and provided unending love and compassion to Eric for three years until his death. Heather attended school in Lindon, Utah, and graduated from Pleasant Grove High School in 1992. She attended Utah Valley State College and was scheduled to graduate with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology in the Spring of 2003. She had many passions in life but especially enjoyed cooking, photography and art. She will be remembered for her warmth, kindness, and stanch support of the disabled, aged, and terminally ill. She was an advocate for the least fortunate of society. She is survived by her parents, Paul and Dalene Collins, Lindon; one sister, Sydney (Aaron) Hansen and son, Simon Kessler, of Salt Lake City; and grandfather, Dennis (Tina) Collins, of St. George, Utah, as well as numerous uncles, aunts, cousins.
--Heather's mother, Dalene Collins writes:
Heather Garnet Collins Pomo, widow of Eric Stephen Pomo, who passed away nearly a year ago on November 30, 2001, died of a broken heart on October 30, 2002. She had lovingly cared for Eric for three years (see memorial to Eric Pomo). She was our angel in life, and now is our angel in death. She fought for the rights of the disabled, terminally ill and aged throughout her short life, and was an inspiration to all who knew her. I love you so much daughter and miss you so much.