Category Archives: death

The Story of How He Died

Dec 27, 1953 – Aug 14, 2008
“Five years ago Faith Quick,
 hit my dad from behind in her pickup, 
and ran over him.
He died at the scene, 
in the arms of a bystander, 
while asking the bystander to call his wife.
Faith Quick received a sentence 
of five days in jail
and one year of probation 
to one count of misdemeanor DUI,
for being under the influence of marijuana 
while driving.
I do not know if 
14/08 means anything to her,
but to me 
its the day 
my dad 
was taken away.”

Faith Quick Tucson Arizona
Faith Quick
I still vividly remember getting that phone call  on August 14th, 2008.  My heart had broken earlier that day due to another unrelated matter and I had no idea that my world would then go on to be shattered into pieces. It was my husband’s cell phone that rang and he who took the call from my mother.  From my husband’s military way of taking the call I had no idea what she could have possibly been telling him on the phone.  My head was already whirling around other problems in my life.  When Ryan got off the phone and told me that there had been an accident and my father had been killed it was as if he was speaking a foreign language.  My dad? No. No, certainly not. My mind could not even begin to accept it.  I actually thought he had said his dad had died and had corrected him.  He told me again and it cracked through my defenses.  It all hit me at once and I broke out in a fit of tears speaking out loudly ‘no, no, no, no’ until my voice shook so much that my voice broke and I was full on crying in a way I had never experienced before.

I remember my sons laughing.  They were only three and and one years old at the time and not understanding the type of reaction coming from their mum.  Ryan had to explain to them that I had just received some very bad news, but how do you tell your sons their grandfather was killed?  I made two  phone calls once I could speak again.  Once to call my mum back who seemed way more in control of the situation than I was and one to my best friend  Tammy to let her know and tell her I would be going to the mainland immediately for the funeral preparations. Everything else is a blur.  I remember vaguely sitting on a plane wearing sunglasses and sobbing during most of the six hours of flight travel from Hawaii to Arizona.

There was a lot of silence during the drive from the Tucson airport to my parent’s house across town.  When we reached the gated community it all hit me and I started crying again and then again when I got inside and found my mum’s arms to run into. There was a lot more crying to happen during those first weeks from the three of us Nystrom women who had lost our father, our husband, our friend.  We would not be alone in our grief as their were many others who would be pained and in tears.  His friends, his church family, his coworkers, and all his students from the school where he taught after retiring from the USAF.  We never got a chance to say goodbye.  He was ripped from our lives so fast and so unfairly.  All it takes is a moment.  That moment happened five years ago today.

This is my story.
I tell it because you never know how much time you have with those you love.  My father served as an officer in the USAF since the age of seventeen, was the navigator and bombardier on the F-111 fighter jet during the first Gulf War, and stayed in the military for over thirty years.  As a military spouse my mum had prepared herself over the years for that official visit, if perchance something were to have happened to my dad.  Who would have thought that it would not be a man in a military uniform at her door, but a man in a police uniform and a matter that would have taken place on US soil that would have claimed his life?

I tell this story because I would not wish this on anyone else.  Sadly my story is so similar to many stories out there. Stories of families broken up because their loved one was killed on their bicycle by someone driving a car, a truck, or a bus.  My dad is not the only one to have the local police department fail to do their job correctly.  Every year more die.

This is a story of a girl named Faith Quick, who lived in Tucson, Arizona.  Faith Quick had been charged twice by the police department.  The first a drunk and disorderly charge and the second for narcotics possession.  Faith Quick had been able to go through Diversion for both cases, something that should only ever happen once. Diversion provides many first-time offenders of specified categories of misdemeanors an opportunity to participate in relevant counseling rather than proceeding through the court system and establishing a criminal record.  To be fair, Faith Quick should have only gone through Diversion once and had had a criminal record with the narcotics charge.  On August 14th, 2008 Faith Quick was driving in a truck with her boyfriend while under the influence of drugs. Sadly like her name, Quick, she was too much in a hurry and driving too quick to observe what the other drivers around her were doing or notice the man with his bicycle.

This is a story of  a retired  USAF officer, a school teacher, a husband, a father, and grandfather.  A man who instead of renting a car while his was down for repairs, decided to be green for the environment and take a series of buses with his bicycle every day to and from work to the other side of town.  On this day he was headed to meet my mother and sister at a restaurant just across the street from where the incident took place.  He was so close to having met them, so close to having made it safely to them.  It is a wonder they did not see my father’s mangled bicycle as they headed home another way, due to the stopped traffic, wondering where my dad was and why he did not show up to the restaurant or answer his phone.

This is a story of why you should always be present and fully aware of your surroundings when operating a motor vehicle.  Why you should never get behind the wheel if you have any drugs in your system and for good measure let me add never ever touch your phone while driving.
Five years ago today on August 14, 2008, Charles Nystrom, my father and grandfather to my kids, was struck and killed. Cars in the two right lanes had stopped to let him cross. A third vehicle, driven by Faith Quick, changed lanes to the inside lane where she hit, ran him over, and dragged him a bit further. The local media reported that “the cyclist failed to yield…”, yet did not report that the driver, Faith Quick, was arrested and later charged with DUI for marijuana. They media did care to share the truth about a man in his fifties, and instead took advantage of the students he taught to show footage of children crying over the sudden loss of their teacher because it was better for their ratings.  I believe they later apologized to my mother after being confronted about their actions.

This is a story about how the driver, Faith Quick, later was sentenced to a mere 5 days in jail for accounts of being under the influence of drugs.  She was never charged for more or a higher charge because there had been no criminal record or paper trail to build a case on her prior charges and offenses.  The two cases of Diversion had seen to that.  Had someone done their job correctly before perhaps I would be writing this story differently.

This is a story about the Tucson Police Department and how history shows they side with the drivers not the cyclists.  Due to the massively faulty police work on the scene, the insurance company USAA would not side with my father’s case.  My mum went on to hire a bike lawyer and hired two professionals who highly knowledgeable in the laws of the road, cycling laws, car accidents, etc.  They both were able to determine that my father was in the clear for his actions that day and that there was no way my father could have yielded to someone behind him driving in a motor vehicle.

For such a great, kind, and giving man who served 30+ years as an officer USAF and a VFW from his time spent fighting in the Gulf War I still get very upset about how little the TPD did. Not to mention somewhere between the scene to the hospital his rings were stolen and never returned.

Faith Quick has still never been charged for my father’s death nor has she spoken any words to my family.  When her sentenced was carried out my mum was in the room.  Faith Quick had been upset that she would have to go to jail for five days and that her request to still go to work during those five days was denied.  No remorse for the bad choices made or the life that was taken, but was upset because she could not make money at work for five days.  Faith Quick now resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

My father was laid to rest at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he started his career with the USAF with the class of 1975. A ghost bike was prepared and placed in the location of the scene where he died by my family as a reminder of his life that was lost and to all those who drive past to share the road.

This picture was taken in 2010, the last time I was able to visit with my dad at the USAF Academy.

Live Aloha. Remember Charles.

Please before you ever get behind the wheel make sure you are in the right state of mind to drive.  Never drive if you have drugs in your system, if you have been drinking, are sleepy, or have issues on your mind that would take away from your focus on the road.  You are sharing the road with many other lives. There is nothing so important that you have to be impatient, rush, speed, or check your phone.  All it takes is a moment.  Make good moments and good choices by being a safe driver.

*Photographs of my father belong to my family and Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All rights reserved | 

Overcoming Klonopin

Self Portrait taken by Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All rights reserved |

“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” (Albus Dumbledore)

Day 16, Thursday: Something difficult about your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it.

This prompt made me think for a while on what to share due to the fact that right now I feel very content in life.However it has not always been this easy, nor have I felt this happy.  Although this is not something I am currently having to work to over come, it is the first time I have ever talked about it online.  Mental health still seems like a taboo conversation by many and I hope by sharing we can break the stigmas and help people so they do not have to go through it alone. 

The first two deaths in my family were sad but not life impacting.  My mum’s brother died while I was in high school and my dad’s father died while I was in University.  I felt more sad for my parents and their loss because I had only been around each individual a few times when we visited the US. I experienced loss as a Third Culture Kid (TCK) with no sense of ‘home’ and having to continually say ‘goodbye’.  However death had not affected me as much as it would a few years later after I have had two kids.  On August 14th, 2008 I realized my marriage was falling apart fast and hours later I got the call that my dad had been run over on his bicycle.  My life shattered into a million pieces.

It was not just the sudden loss of my dad that we were all dealing with in Arizona.  We were dealing with the police department, the reporters, the hospital over my father’s missing rings (still missing), the funeral arrangements in both Tucson and for his funeral at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, the memorial service at his school, the memorial service at church, the ghost bike, and the correspondance pouring in from all over the world. Though I was not really speaking to my husband at the time, he was a rock for my family taking care of so many details.  However I felt I was going through this loss all on my own while my sister and mother both had people to help them through the process.

When it was time to leave after the funeral  I decided to stay at my mum’s for a while.  While I should have fully had my husband to support me through the loss of my dad, I equally should have had my mum to support me in my broken marriage.  But how could I dare to even bring it up when she just lost her husband.  I would be lying now if I said I was not still somewhat angry at the girl who decided to be high when she hit my dad in that truck. I’m equally still upset at the the Tucson Police Department for doing a shoddy job on the scene and in the police reports, as well as never charging the driver for the death of my father.  Tell me again how someone ‘struck from behind’ on a bicycle yields to someone in a truck? It is much more subdued now but you can understand the anger, pain, sadness and confusion that would come from that initially. Before I left to go back home to Hawaii, my mum urged me to see a doctor about medication as depression ran in our family. Thats what I did.

I had seen therapists before and I realized after the first couple of visits that my psychiatrist more incline to subscribe me medication and less to hear me talk. I had wanted to take the same thing my mum was on and for whatever reason my doctor decided against it.  Since I was also dealing with anxiety at this time of my life he put me on Klonopin (clonazepam).  I think it helped in the beginning for when I really felt anxious being in public or when it just hurt to much about the loss of my dad.  I remember once being out with a mummy and kids play group on base and my best friend looked over at me and could tell I was having a panic attack. I remember how comforting it was to know someone understood and taking my klonopin helped so much.

There were issues with the dosage while I was taking it as they tried to find the right amount over the course of my treatment.  After getting my dosage raised once and still taking it in the morning, it would knock me out so quickly.  I would not even know I was getting tired until I was fast asleep. It was more than that it was the way it took away the passion and the heart of my personality.   I may have not been myself with dealing with everything going on in my life, but I was definitely not me on Klonopin either.  My emotions felt very flat and if I was needing to take another pill I could be really irritable and upset.  I remember just wanting to be alone a lot of the time.  Being around my in-laws at all brings on a lot of stress and I just sat in a closet once during the Christmas holiday to find some quiet and past out amongst the coats and the darkness until my husband found me.  There did not seem to be an end to this tunnel because it was masking the problems.  It was not fixing the loss of my dad or the cracks in my marriage.

During the summer my kids went to spend a few months with my in-laws on the mainland.  I had just taken a new job at a salon across town and had decided it might be best to find a new place to live while we attempted a trial separation.  We had tried marriage counseling though we mostly talked about  my issues of loss, my need to move ‘home’ to Europe, and whatever trivial talk my husband and the counselor brought up about life. Nothing seemed to be moving forward when it came to us. It was in my new job that my boss found out about the Klonopin.  He could not medically advise me to stop taking it, but he told me he didn’t think I needed it anymore.  As a life coach and mentor, he helped me to start working out again.  I began doing crossfit and yoga every week with my coworkers. I started making sure my diet was better, meaning making sure I ate enough calories  and not relying on fastfood since I was now renting a room with college students.  I started to slowly change back into myself.

That makes its sound like it was almost easy to stop relying on the medication and that life was now blissful.  It is too much to add to this blog post but at that time life was just as hard.  My marriage was now going through the beginning stages of a divorce. My in-laws were orchestrating a deal with a lawyer so my husband could push for full custody of the kids, giving me a clean break so I could leave for Europe. Obviously anyone who knows me knows how much my kids are my life and that no deal would ever come between us. At that time I was floating through new acquaintances with no real support system of friends.  I realized how much of a gossip pool the military circle can be hearing untrue things about me circulating about me from people I had never met.  Everyone has an opinion when others are dealing with hardships.  I will say my mum, though at the time our relationship was not doing to great, never said a bad thing about my husband.  It is something I am going to remember when my children get married especially in comparison to everything my in-laws have said or done up till last summer.  

So life was not easy.  But I was now dealing with it without medication and not covering up the sadness, the pain, the anxiety of feeling like everyone was focused on me.  I ended up moving back in with my husband when the kids got back from their summer vacation.  It took three years but my husband and I are doing better than we have ever been.

I still no longer take any medications.  I honestly dislike to have take anything for a headache until I complain too long about it and cave.  I am more incline to go the homeopathic route for myself and my family.  My dad has been gone for almost five years but I have been able to work through the stages of grief.  The last two years living as expats in England has really helped my marriage flourish and strengthen.  When you live in the military world where divorce is so common, I find that a major accomplishment especially through everything we have been through.  There was a time in my life where I felt so angry with God because he had ripped everything from my life and left me alone in the broken pieces.  I have come out of the ashes again to be able to look at all the beauty in life.

***I will end this by saying that if you do take medications and they work for you, awesome.  They only made things worse in my life.  In a better situation I would have had a better support system to work through the problems.  Honesty and communication could have helped so much.  I saw a friend have to come off of a different drug and the side effects are scary.  I honestly feel that clean eating, exercise  and homeopathic resources should be the first way to combat an issue before taking any sort of drugs. My previous sessions with therapists have been by far more beneficial.***


*photographs found here either belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved |