Diane Abel

My nightmare began on Sunday Aug.23,1998. 10:45 p.m. The Call came. Every parent knows what I'm talking about. It is the one we all FEAR. Our 24 year old son was driving home that night and lost control of his truck. It went off the road and rolled over into the ditch. Both occupants were ejected, no seat belts were worn. The passenger was treated and released at an area hospital. Our son was not so lucky. A policeman was right down the road . He had paramedics there within minutes. They started working on Jeff. He was not breathing. They continued working on our son until the Careflite helicopter landed.

While they were working on Jeff, our younger son drove by. He saw the Bronco upside down in the ditch. The police wouldn't let Dave in to the area. He finally said THAT'S MY BROTHER AND I'M GOING IN!. He saw about 5 paramedics working on his big brother . A sight he sees now only in the darkest dark. One of the policemen found Dave a phone. Our son was the one that made that dreaded call. " Dad, they took him to Harris hospital . It's bad Dad.. REAL BAD".

We got to the hospital about midnight. They ushered us into this little room. The Doctors came in. They talked to us about closed head injuries´┐Żbrain stem.. he needed Cat-scans, X-rays.. test... we will have to wait and see. We finally saw our son, hooked up to all kinds of machines, on a ventilator, bloody and bruised, there he was, our Jeffy. I held his hand and touched his hair. I prayed. The blood flow test they did at 1 a.m. was inconclusive they said. They would do another one in 6 hours. They did not think there was enough blood flowing to our son's brain to keep him alive. They would know more in 6 hours. Time will tell.

SIX HOURS we waited. I called my Mom. We all waited. We prayed and cried and drank coffee. More family and friends came in and called. More waiting.. more tears.. more prayers. Time was up. Doctors came in . The Chaplain came in. It seems like everyone in the hospital came in to tell us our son was not going to make it. Brain dead they called it. So sorry, too much damage... too young to die.

Jamie came in to visit with us. She is with LifeGift and could we think about organ donation? Nothing to think about I said. Jeff made that decision when he was only 16. He thought it was the right thing to do. We signed the papers and she left to get things started.

We saw Jeff again. I held my son one last time, I kissed him and told him again how much I loved him. I told him how much I would miss him, but he had places to go, a far greater place than this one. I left my child in that hospital bed. Steve and I held our other two children outside that room and cried like babies.

We went home to make the arrangements. So many decisions.. ...what was he to wear and what time did we want the funeral. Over the next two days all I really remember is family, friends, tears, prayers and tons of food no one was eating. It was time. Everything was done. The service was about to begin. A beautiful service for a beautiful young man. A full house. I hope he saw it.

Jeff saved several lives the day he died. His heart, liver and kidney all found new bodies to function in. Two people were given the gift of sight that day too. Countless others have been helped with the bone grafts taken from my young son's body. All because of a decision my son made several years ago.

Caring? Yes, Jeff cared a lot about people. Wise? No, my son was not very wise. He made a decision that day that cost him everything. He chose to drink and drive. Jeff's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit for our state. Jeff was too drunk to drive.

We need to help our young people to make the RIGHT DECISIONS. Please share this part of my life with them... Please SHOW them the way... PLEASE DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. The next decision your child makes about drinking and driving may be the one that makes you have to decide on which casket to buy. TALK ABOUT IT TODAY. For my son and for your child.

Jeff's Mom,

Diane Abel

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

anniversary date 08-24-98
date of post 12-13-98

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW