I Miss My Brother, John

Dale Crockett

I have recently lost a very special part of my family, my 31 year old brother John. He was the middle child of three , myself being the oldest. On March 18th 1999, I got a call around 10:30 pm from my stepfather. He told me that there had been an explosion and they couldn't find my brother John.

I immediately found John's car phone number and beeper number and called each of them with no response. I then called Johns home . My youngest brother Steve answered the phone. I asked him what happened. He said that John had gone to the studio, a storage building that they used as a recording studio for their rock band, and there was an explosion and one of the two people that were there was dead and the other one was sent to a burn unit. I didn't know how to think at that point, if one of the two had to be John. Do I hope he is the one at the hospital burned? Or hope that he didn't suffer.

All I knew then was I did not and could not believe that it could happen. It was another hour before the fire marshall confirmed that John was the one who was killed. The other boy was a 22 year old father of 2 young children who had just joined the group as a singer. I felt as if my heart has been ripped out of my chest. My youngest brother's fianc�e told me that Steve was supposed to be there but he was there helping her with wedding plans. My heart really was hurting then. I could have lost both of them!!!

I lived in a different state than my two brothers. I got married when I was 22 years old and began a family right away. My brothers had a dream to further a music career and moved to PA. They were so happy. John was a brilliant musician, guitar player, writer, and artist. They had lived in PA for approximately 10 years. They were so close to reaching their goal. A record company was just waiting on the group to find the right singer.

John had been with the same girl for over 10 years, she moved there with him. He had just proposed marriage to her on new years eve, 1998-1999. They spent the evening with my younger brother Steve, his fianc�e and many of their friends! He was so excited about the ring. He had sold two of his most valuable guitars, which meant so much to him, to buy the ring for her. He was so nervous, but so sure that he was ready. I was so happy for them. I always knew that one day it would happen. The did not even get around until late the next evening to call to tell me. I guess they had a lot of celebrating to do. John had so much going for him. The beginning of his new family, his brilliant music career, and a life that could have made a difference!

He and my youngest brother Steve were so close! There was not a day that went by without them talking to each other. They even had someone comment one time that they could not be brothers, because they got along too well. They were inseparable! I could only have wished for a relationship like they had. They had been together for 10 years in PA and only had each other for a while, while the rest of the family was in DE. Steve even as a child always idolized John. One time Steve entered a punt pass and kick contest in our hometown. In years past, John would win his age group and Steve would win his, but this year John did not win. Steve was so upset that John didn't make it that he did not want to continue. He cried because he thought that John would be upset. BUT he wasn't. John was so proud of Steve. This was how they always were with each other from the time they were young to the time of John's death.

I really have so many regrets. I wish I would have told him more often about how much I loved him and how proud I was of him for following his dreams with such dedication. I have never known anyone so dedicated to his dream. I guess a lot of people could learn from him. I wish I had taken the time to call him or just be with him more on the handful of times that he would come home during the year. My kids knew him, but I wish they knew him better. The hardest part to deal with is that he died in a fire. I had always thought that it would be the worst way to die, and I always hoped that no one that I cared about would have to endure such pain. I have so many questions about things that I know I will never find the answers to. Only John knows. I hope he did not feel any pain. I hurts me to know that his body was harmed, and there was nothing I could to help. Also my brother Steve feels responsible, and that makes me sad! He feels like he should have been there to prevent it, but I know that is not true, and in time he will too. If he would have been there, we would have lost him too. OH!! The pain of his death is so extremely difficult to deal with. It has been only 3 1/2 weeks . I feel like I am supposed to be getting better, but I feel as if I am getting worse.

My youngest brother Steve is supposed to get married on July 3rd. John was supposed to be the best man. They have decided to leave a space in the wedding party because no one else could ever be the best man for Steve. I hope by then time will have healed a little more and their wedding will not be a sad thing. I am very happy for Steve and can't wait for him to begin his new family. I know he will be a great dad and his soon to be wife will make a great mom! Just like I know that John and Shana would have been too!! Thanksgiving will be here before I know it and that is when we always got together. Then Christmas will be on of the hardest this year. John's birthday is the 26th (the day after Christmas) then New Year's Eve....... I don't know how to go on, BUT I know that I have to. I have 2 children of my own and a husband who cares a great deal for me. It is really hard for him to see me in such pain and know there is nothing that he can really do to make it any better except to be there for me to hold me when I need it.


Your loving big sister,

Dale Crockett

You can send email to Dale at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date 3-18-99
date of post 4-14-99
email updated 02-16-00

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW