Ricky Alan McGowen, My brother, My hero

Jana McGowen

It was almost two years ago when that dreadful night took place. It is a night that I will always remember, not only for the pain, but also for the memories left. On October 29, 1994 my brother Ricky was killed in a car wreck. This was a very small wreck that caused a lot of pain, suffering, and claimed the life of a very magnificent young man. Ricky was not only my protective older brother, he was also my hero.

We received a telephone call at a very early morning hour. My mom called me at a friend's house and told me that I needed to come home. I could not imagine what could be so bad that she would call and wake me up. I was very scared, afraid, and in a total state of shock. I came in the door to find my parents and by brother Bryan crying, and when I saw their faces I knew that it was bad. I looked at them for a few minutes and then I asked "What happened? What's wrong?" My dad looked at me and I seen these enormous tears running down his face and he said "Ricky is gone." I just stood there for a minute or two and I remember thinking that this could not be happening to us. I felt like I had just hit a brick wall. There was this heavy weight on my chest and my heart was just pounding away. The only word that I could get out of my mouth was "No!" I was so hurt, angry and shocked that I did not know what to do.

We slowly started gathering our clothes and making last minute phone calls, we then loaded all of what we thought we needed and headed for Plainview. That trip seemed to take forever! I sat in the back seat and the whole way I looked out the window in disbelief that the world around us had not stopped. I could not believe that these people were laughing, and talking and my whole world seemed to be falling apart.

When we got to Ricky's house, we were met by his wife and some other family; however, even though the house was filled with people it seemed so empty without him there. He had such a charming personality and warm smile. We moped around the house trying to make some kind of decisions and nothing seemed to be going right. We had to pick out clothes for him, and pick out a casket, and find flowers that suited his personality. These were the hardest things to do, to know that the clothes you pick out are what everyone is going to remember about his appearance.

It took two days for Bryan and I to get the courage to go to the funeral home to see him. It was so hard to look at him and imagine what pain he might have felt. It was then that I realized while looking at him that it was not really Ricky, not the one that I remembered. I can never remember a time that his face ever looked so empty and sad, and I realized that I was only looking at his body because that was all that was left. He was always so full of life, and had a very special way of winning people over with his wit and charm. I stood there beside him for what seemed like hours just looking at him, and trying to remember everything about him. I remember thinking "This is real, it is not a dream, he is really gone."

The day of the funeral was really hard. Everyone was trying to put it off as long as they could until there was no time left. As we got into the vehicle I looked around at my mom, my sister-in-law, and Ricky's daughter Kristina, and everyone had this empty look in their eyes, yet they were so pretty to look at,yet there was just something missing, and at that moment I realized what an impact Ricky had on our lives that we never realized.

As we walked into the church, there were people everywhere, and even though I was so overwhelmed with hurt and grief, I also felt so much pride because I realized that Ricky had touched the lives of so many people that we never even knew about. Ricky would have never imagined all of the people that cared so much for him.

Saying good bye was so hard. I had to say good bye to my hero, my everything. In one night my I lost so much, and I realized that I had taken for granted that he would always be here, but in just the short amount of time that he has been gone, he has been missed so much. These days we talk about the fun times, but we also remember the hard times, and the trials that he put us through that made everyone including him stronger. Two years ago my whole family thought that the world was going to end, but we have made it this far. There will always be something missing in our hearts and in our lives, but we have to be thankful for the memories that we we do have, because life does go on, even when it does not seem like there is anything to live for. I have come to the conclusion that the easiest thing to do to ease my pain is make the best of what I have left and know that someday Ricky and I will meet again in a better place, and this time it will be forever.


You can send email to Jana at: [email protected]
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anniversary date 10-29-94
date of post 10-26-96

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW