My name is Judy Schurgin. I have lived in Monmouth County for the last thirty-five years. Even as a child, I was the type to reach out and help others. In second grade Felix joined our class. He could not speak English and in some way I thought it was my job to help him through his school days. The teacher wrote a note to my parents saying she was sure I would become a teacher. Her predication came true. I became a special education teacher for twenty years before retiring.
I had two children. My son Aaron was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. He had three chemotherapy treatments before he began feeling really unwell. He checked into Sloan Kettering Hospital in NYC where he lived. Shortly thereafter he fell into a coma. The doctors confirmed that he had been bitten by a West Nile mosquito that ravaged his brain. We lost him in September 2014 at 37 years old.
Many years ago when Aaron was a teenager, I became a leader of PFLAG an international support group for parents of the LGBTQ community; it was my pleasure to do so. After Aaron passed, I was once again in need of a support community. Luckily for me I found Stephy’s Place. Here is where I have felt at home. It is almost four years since Aaron has passed, it is still the place I can really breathe.
It is now my privilege to co-facilitate a grief support group for parents who have lost a child. We are in a club that no one wants to belong to, but together we learn that we can survive our loss and become stronger together.