Thursday, December 09, 2004

ABQjournal: Deceased Daughter Is Only One of Family's Devastations

ABQjournal: Deceased Daughter Is Only One of Family's Devastations Few families suffer the myriad losses the Kerrigan family has sustained in less than a decade.
Most devastating was the death of their 17-year-old daughter to a speeding driver. The Kerrigans' niece and nephew survived the accident, but the impact of the crash ejected Tamara 180 feet from the car, and she died instantly.

After the memorial service, the family kept Tamara's ashes in an urn at their home to feel closer to her. In 1997, Tamara's urn was the only thing to survive a terrible fire that swept through and destroyed the Kerrigans' home. All their pictures of Tamara were lost in the house fire, another devastating blow for the family still grieving the loss of their daughter. Later, as a gift, Leslie Kerrigan's mother would give her the photographs she had of Tamara.

The family relocated to the East Mountains to try to rebuild their lives. Neither Leslie nor Michael Kerrigan had formal educations beyond high school, but both were hard-working— she a waitress and he a chef. They focused on getting their lives back on track and helping their son, Jason, who is challenged by developmental disabilities and epilepsy...

Just when it seemed there was nothing more this family could be dealt, Leslie, the family's last breadwinner, injured her back at work. She slipped on a wet floor while carrying a heavy bucket.

Despite her injury and severe pain, she continued to work a number of days each week.
She had no choice as the sole provider for her family. But eventually the pain from being on her feet and carrying heavy trays of food became more than Leslie could manage. When she couldn't keep up with the work schedule, she was fired.

"I wouldn't wish this on anyone," said Leslie of the family's series of devastating experiences.
Leslie has been told that Z-coil shoes could help alleviate enough of her back pain to return to work. But the shoes are more expensive than the family can afford, since they are living only on Michael's $671 disability income...

Linda Burke
Telegraph Contributor
Bethel Community Storehouse
United Way of Central New Mexico

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