We got the call at about 1 am. A friend wanted to know who Michael, our son, had been out with that night. He was out with their son. There had been an accident.....two boys had been sent to the hospital...wait for them to call back. We waited and waited. Nothing! We called the hospital and the report was that they had two boys in the emergency room. They identified our friends son....but the other boy did not have ID on him. They wouldn't give us any information on him either. The doorbell rang.....a police car in the driveway....oh my God....he is DEAD. Michael had never made it to the hospital. The car hit a railroad tressle, sideways, at a high rate of speed. Michael was riding shotgun....the impact was at the passenger door. He was killed instantly of a broken neck! God cried!
This was the beginning of our nightmare, October 23, 1993. This is the day that my life was permanently changed.....the day that my old life ended and my new life began. My son was 21 years old, a very handsome guy, lots of friends, soccer and baseball star, going to college, working and a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corp. The perfect kid. Snuffed out in a heartbeat.....gone forever. Yes, my life ended that day.....just as surely as if I had stopped breathing. Over 300 kids staged a vigil at the funeral home. All of them so sad and hurting. The driver had minor injuries.....he made it to the wake. I told him I forgave him.....I couldn't think of anything else to say. Perhaps; "why were you driving over 60 mph in a 30 mph zone?" or "....why were you driving when you had been drinking?". Somehow these things did not come out of my mouth. Just, "I am so sorry....I forgive you." The other passenger, riding in the back seat, Michael's best friend, died four days later.
Time passed and I felt the grief hit head on. I was in shock...lost....dead inside for months. My first source of help was The Compassionate Friends, a support group for bereaved parents. I had recently signed onto the Net....it was only a matter of time before I found the Usenet News support group called alt.support.grief. I can honestly say that without a.s.g , I would never have made it where I am today. The sharing I was able to do there and the people I found were my saving grace. They became my only tie with reality. In a world where people do not want to acknowledge death and in my workplace where everyone wondered when I would "get over it", my refuge was the world of the keyboard. I typed and typed until I thought I would grow more fingers. I am still typing today.....everyday.....
My despair and denial slowly gave way to tolerable pain. I began to have moments when I wasn't centered on the loss. I even had a few periods of reasonable happiness. Each step forward was welcomed, but there were many steps backwards after that. The anger hit me from nowhere. This is where the group and my writing (journaling) really came into play. I wrote for hours and days spewing out the vile....at Shane (the driver), at Michael (for riding), at others (for having living kids) and finally.....at God! It was when I arrived at my anger with God that I began to heal. There are days of depression and days of rage.....days of total sadness....but underneath it all, after this long 20 months.....I have some peace. I believe that in spite of everything......all will be okay in the end.
My most incredible rage was for the people who made well meaning, but unhelpful comments like...."God wanted him more", or "it's not for us to know", or "everything happens for a reason", or "it was God's will". I was told that I would never know the answer......BUT....they were wrong. I DO know the answer. The answer is that there IS a God and I am not him! You see, my higher power doesn't operate like a puppeteer....pulling all the strings. Some things that happen are God's will, some are man's will and some things happen for no damn good reason at all. I believe that Michael's death falls in the second and third categories. God didn't have his hands on the steering wheel or his foot on the gas when the car hit the railroad tressle. The driver did that (man) and it was Michael's poor decision to ride with him in the first place. I believe that God was the first one to cry that day....the very first one.
I have explored the Internet and now I have found yet another group for us grievers. Another group that nobody wants to belong to. It seems foolish to "welcome" people to Tom Golden's "Webhealing.com"! The people that find us will be searching......and we will be there. I thank God for putting me on the info highway when he did....and I thank him for groups like Tom's.
I also invite you to visit Michael's Memorial Website..... where I share my experience, strenght and hope: "ZOOM - A Father's Story." I hope you find it helpful. And please.... feel free to email me anytime!
Love & Peace,
"When the student is ready, the teacher arrives."