Moms Columns & Blogs

Archive-January/February-Part 9-Back to Pineville & Intro to Facebook

“Back to Pineville”

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  Just when I thought that it was impossible to feel any more pain, the sheer violence that oozes from the wreckage of Brian’s car has taken me to a place so dark and despairing that I wonder if I will ever be able to see the sun again.  Anger is my constant companion these last few days; being angry is exhausting, especially since I know that it is pointless; yet I cannot help myself…  It is a shield of sorts that I can hide behind for now…until I figure something, anything out…  

We cannot get away from here fast enough…  We depart from Dellinger’s as if the hounds of hell are hot on our heels.  The unbidden image of our precious child within the ruins of his heart’s greatest desire…it will haunt us for the rest of our days.  One more place to go…by mutual agreement we are going to the point of origin, where life ended and began simultaneously…  

I hate this place…my reaction is visceral, beyond my control; it makes no logical sense but I know without a doubt that the Town of Pineville can no longer be a part of my world… We turn off of Highway 51 into the neighborhood, circle the divided entrance, and pull onto the shoulder.  I feel jumpy, nervous, as if something evil is lurking nearby, ready to pounce…  Exiting the car, we slowly survey this area, taking in our surroundings, as if it is possible to somehow make sense of our tragedy, our loss, by visiting the spot where Brian was last a healthy, happy young man.  Until this point in time, I thought this road, Blue Heron Drive, was located on the opposite side of the highway; consequently, I could not understand the logistics of how this all happened.  After walking up to the stop sign, I have no trouble visualizing it...the burned rubber skid marks…multiple shades of police spray paint on the pavement and concrete curbing…juxtaposed with the mass of twisted steel and broken glass we just left behind…his roadside cross marking the spot where his car finally came to rest…    

I have no idea how long we stalked this stretch of roadway, muttering to ourselves; John in one direction, walking off various lengths of asphalt, me in the other, considering how the space covered by approximately 100 feet from this stop sign to the far sidewalk changed our lives forever.  As we wander about, more disturbed with every step, I notice the cars passing us seem to be flying…my face is buffeted by the hot humid breeze left in their wake and my hair is getting tangled…  Maybe I’m just too close to the road…or too close to throwing myself into the road…  

Many, many years ago I worked in this area; I vaguely recall this street being a shortcut to Carolina Place Mall.  I wonder if the traffic in this area is still like it was, especially around lunch time.  The posted speed limit in this area is 45 miles per hour.  If you are driving toward the mall, you are likely slowed down due to right turns into shopping centers, restaurants and other businesses.  On the other hand, once you clear the traffic light at Park Road heading away (toward Matthews), there seems to be little to deter building speed until you near Johnston Road, with limited turnoffs along this stretch.  While I am not presently of sound mind, I completely grasp this painful fact: the posted speed limit times a barely moving left turn from this road equals life-ending outcome, for more than just those physically involved in the accident…  

In the future, I hope I will be stronger than I am today.  I know nothing of highways, traffic counts, politics, or any of the things that determine safe speed limits or traffic light installations, but I do know this…when I am able, it will be my mission in life to change one, the other, or both…  I may never accomplish anything, but it will not be due to lack of effort on my part.  No parent should ever have to go through this agony.  I will at least try to prevent another horrific accident from happening in this particular place, thereby redeeming it in my mind and reclaiming it from deaths’ domain.  Some good can come from every situation; maybe this will be one good thing that can come from losing Brian…  One day, further down the road… when I am more eloquent and certain… less emotional… able to stand up straight and poised for more than one breath at a time… 

“Intro to Facebook”

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  Why am I not doing more?  There are things that I should be taking care of, but I lack the will to do more than exist in this new world; it’s good that breathing happens without conscious thought or effort on my part.  I am frustrated by my apathy and weakness; these attributes have never been part of my character.  My sense of resolve and purpose is lost; I must get up and forge ahead once again for the sake of my family, hoping this slight effort will be enough to get me through these next hours.  My faith in the words, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) is the life raft to which I’m holding tight…  

The outpouring of affection and support continues to stream in from so many directions.  There is an online guestbook linked to Brian’s newspaper notice called legacy.com where many wonderful words have been written to us about him.  Every day we receive cards and emails, reminding us that our grief is shared and that Brian was special to others besides us.  I cannot fathom how we would have made it this far without the care and concern of our friends and family.  I have no doubt that we are lifted up in prayer; at times I can feel the gentle caress of kind thoughts, followed by a brief respite of peace, a blessed soothing of my ravaged soul.  I have started retrieving the mail upon my return home from errands, thereby avoiding the long, empty walk down the driveway…  I learned the hard way today that I must steel myself for what may arrive in the mailbox.  While checking the mail has been a source of comfort, it also has the ability to cause pain.  A medical bill addressed directly to Brian arrived today; evidently our insurance information did not trickle down to all who needed it.  I will soon have to make a telephone call to correct this; the prospect fills me with dread.  The title to his car also came in, exactly two Thursdays after its purchase and registration.  I face another difficult phone call, this time to the salvage yard for further instruction, another explanation.  Routine matters in any other household…  What is it about Thursdays?   

We have opened our doors and hearts to all of the friends of our children.  I can no longer make a difference for Brian, but maybe I can for one of them.  They are gradually becoming comfortable stopping by, staying a while and sharing their memories, their stories.  I have been so rigid in the past, enforcing the rules, maintaining order at all costs…Brian would run me over if I gave him a millimeter…I think they are all testing me, gauging who I really am…  I cannot explain it, but I just know that I must reach out to them.  Am I doing it for myself or for them?  Both, I think, but probably more for me.  After all, his friends were his world over these last months, sharing an entirely different set of experiences with him outside of our purview.  I enjoy hearing their adventures, although at times it is hard to listen.  Brian would be in big trouble over much of it!!  While the kids are around, John generally disappears after a cursory greeting and chat.  He finds no solace in their company yet; these lively young men remind him acutely of Brian’s absence, and of the future that exists no more. I intuitively understand that Grace requires their presence; they are a tangible link to her brother, to her old life that she loved.  Beth is way ahead of me; she has already reached out to many of them online.  She set up a Facebook page for me so I can visit the memorial page his friends created.  I always thought myself to be too old for this sort of thing, this territory being the domain of teens and twenty-something’s; I never dreamed I would enter this realm…  I finally posted my first message on Brian’s wall for them (after several failed attempts I might add):  

Brian's Dad, Sisters and I are so grateful for the outpouring of love you have shown for Brian and our family...it really helps us to know that he was so special. We are trying to take deep breaths, and to put one foot in front of the other, every single day, and to live up to the standard that he set-living life to the absolute fullest and without fear. We encourage you all to embrace your opportunities and to continue to honor Brian's memory by loving each other as you loved him. Please feel free to share your memories with us and you are welcome to stop by- we would love to see you. And please, be careful. Life is so very short, and you are all so very special. With much love & many hugs, Tammy G. 

I can only hope that some will see this and understand how much we appreciate them, and that they will be extra careful…  I don’t think I could handle anything else happening…

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