"Things are going to be better one day, not the same as before, just better than they are now." This is a line from a poem written by T.J.'s girlfriend, Jessica. They were falling in love. Everything in life seemed right and T.J. was the happiest that he had ever been. But on March 29, 1997 T.J. left us all behind and moved to heaven.
Left behind are T.J.'s Father, his younger sister Gabrie`l (they were best buddies), his young love, Jessica, friends too numerous to mention, a large extended family and myself, his Mother. We have lost so very much and we are broken hearted.
T.J. was almost 19, a freshman in college with his life in front of him, so we thought. He was very intelligent, witty, and kind. He was also a committed Christian. He was a member of our church youth choir and the drama team. Spring was his favorite time of year. He enjoyed nature and spent many hours in the woods behind our house exploring. He loved music, and poetry, spending much of his free time playing the guitar and writing lyrics and poems. His favorite sport was basketball and he had been on the school team since Jr. High School. All this he did while maintaining an "A" average in school and college.
Although T.J. and Jessica had graduated from high school in "96", the Youth Director at our church asked them to chaperone the Jr./Senior Prom this year. I had gone shopping that day and bought him a new tie, a bottle of the cologne he wore, Preferred Stock, and a huge pack of his favorite gum, Big Red. He was so happy and excited when he left the house that Friday evening. He stopped by the house after the prom. He threw the tie on my cedar chest (he hated wearing ties) and grabbed a change of clothes (he was going to spend the night at his friend's). I said, "Call me when you get to Reggie's". He told me that he loved me and then walked out of my life forever.
I never got that call because T.J. never made it to Reggie's. He lost control of his Chevy S-10 on a wet country road in the rain and hit a pine tree. He died instantly. Jessica was seriously injured, but is recovering (physically, at least).
At the funeral, Reggie gave a beautiful eulogy and the church youth choir sang. I remember thinking that they were all so brave.
The days since have been overshadowed by a grayness that has settled in on us like a cold evening fog. Everything we do somehow reminds us of T.J. His Father misses him especially when he is doing little projects around the house. They always worked together. He says it hurts with every nail he hammers and every bolt he turns.
Gabrie`l would tell T.J. secrets that she would not share with anyone else and they would frequently take walks in the woods together. He would even let her drive his truck sometimes, though he wasn't supposed to! I miss the talks T.J. and I would have when he got home from college every afternoon. I especially miss his music. He helped me stay current and connected with the younger set.
One of the most painful things to do, however, is to attend church. T.J. always sat with his friends on the pew in front of us, when not singing in the choir or taking part in a play. Yet, I don't know how we could have made it through this without our church family and we believe it is important to stay in church. We have a strong faith in God and we know that T.J. is in heaven. Even though this is what we believe, sometimes the pain is almost more than we can bear.
If you would like to learn more of T.J. we have built a memorial to him on the web.
You can send email to Kathy at: [email protected]
anniversary date 03-29-97
date of post 07-10-97