Kirk?s Fathers Love

James Balthazor

I am writing this now to help me make sense of all the pain that has been endured for what seems like such a long time. My son at the age of 17 was killed in a wreck that happened 3 blocks from our home on the morning of Aug. 5th, 2000 at 12:30 am. He had lived his life on the edge for the past 2 years without much acceptance from any adult in authority; his teachers, the police, and yes even his parents at times were completely frustrated. The problem was his inability to stay focused on any one thing and to remember, when he was in trouble for doing something, not to do it again.

We had been trying the tough love approach for the past 6 months by limiting his ability to drive. He had probably had his car for a total of 1 month out of the 6 and was starting a period where we were just beginning to trust him again. For the past 2 weeks before his death we have given him curfews, fuel consumption quotas, and we're trying to find that element of trust. On the night of his death he had the car for 3 hours between the times of 6 and 9 pm and had returned the car at the time of his curfew. He then went to a party with his friends and returned home at 11:45 to ask if he could use the car to help a friend change a tire. He had a large jack in his trunk that made it real easy to change tires. We asked if we could smell his breath to check if he had been drinking and told him if he had been drinking he would not be able to use it. He hadn't been drinking as far as we could tell and so we let him go with a laugh, a smile, an I love you, and told him to be careful. He assured us he would. 45 minutes later he was dead.

He had been speeding on a street in town with a curve and had misjudged the closeness he was to a curb and lost control and the car rolled and landed on his head. He died immediately. We were listen to our scanner at the time and listened to the 911 call to the police and the resulting chaos that ensued. He was a good kid who just had a hard time understanding when to stop. He was a kid with ADHD and was loved by all, his parents, his sister, his relatives, his friends and any adult that didn't have to try to control him.

The response to his death in the community was overwhelming and is the only thing that has kept us going. The goodness of the hundreds of people that have been so kind, our family, and priest have helped us through this terrible tragedy.

As his father I hurt so much because we had a good relationship and I really had a hard time understanding why he was playing the rebel soon after he entered high school. We were in scouts together and I was a leader of his pack. Camping, hiking, learning for the past 10 years we had spent about 2 weeks out of every year by ourselves and although he was always getting into things he shouldn?t, I had a great time and came to love everything about him. I coached his little league baseball team and was so happy to see that even though he was always a head shorter than anyone else he really tried and was a good player.

I know that we tried everything we could to make his life a good one, but we were getting very frustrated with him the last couple years of his life. As with most ADHD kids he was very immature. It was only in the past month that we had seen some change. The previous month we had been put through hell because of his behavior and who knows what the next months would have brought if he would have lived. But whatever it would have brought I would have gladly accepted it because this alternative is just too painful.

I miss him terribly. I miss his dimples when he smiled. I miss his energy. I miss the hugs I could still get out of him even though they were becoming fewer and farther between as he grew older. I miss his constant asking me if I liked this music or if I liked those lyrics to some rap song that drove me crazy. I miss his blond hair and the fact he wouldn?t let it get too long. I miss him. I really really miss him.

Love your kids as much as you can and hold them dear. Life can be very short and when it ends there are those left that wonder what could have been. I know I need to remember instead what was and I have some very nice memories. He was not taking drugs, but he did have some alcohol in his system, enough to warrant an investigation. We still have no idea what he was doing from the time he left our house to the time he died. I hope someday we will know what he did with those 45 minutes. We now are living with the loss and trying to find ways to make sense of it all.

I know we are not the only ones who have experienced this and we will not be the last. I wish I could make sense of this and know what to do, but even now I have no answers. I see 2 things about him constantly and wish something could have been different. I see me holding him seconds after her was born and being so proud and I see him after they unzip the body bag for me to identify him. Those sights both give me hope and haunt me. I hope I can someday find a way to keep his memory alive forever. He was my baby, my friend, my son and companion. I love him forever and will miss him until I am with him again.

James Balthazor

You can send email to James Balthazor at [email protected]

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Anniversary date - 8-5-00
Date of post - 9-5-00

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