A couple who lost their two children in an accident in late May – a newborn and toddler – sat down to talk with WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham about faith, forgiveness and trying to find their “new normal.”
“Both of our sons died,” said Hadley Eddings, sitting beside her husband, Gentry. “I don’t want that to be in vain. If I have an opportunity to share their story and talk about their lives, I want to do so.”
In late May, Gentry and Hadley were involved in a wreck along U.S. 17 in Pender County, near Wilmington. Investigators say a box truck was approaching stopped traffic and failed to stop in time, resulting in a chain-reaction crash.
Their 2-year-old son, Dobbs, was killed instantly.
An 8-months-pregnant Hadley gave emergency birth at the hospital to their son, Reed. At first, news looked hopeful, but three days later Reed also died.
“We got to hold him,” Hadley said. “They put us in a private room and we were able to hold him and do some skin-on-skin time and I got to take a little nap with him, which was wonderful. Gentry did too. We just sat and held him.”
These 28-year-olds, married six years exactly on the night of the accident, say they have deep faith. They say this situation is as much God’s story as it is theirs.
“God has our boys in a place of peace, so I am in a place of peace,” said Gentry. “God has a plan. The situation is a frustrating one. We don’t want to be here. We don’t like it. This is not a fun situation. We’re mad at the loss. But we know God is good and has a plan and we believe that.”
Hadley follows up with, “I hate that this happened. I don’t like it at all. But I can trust God even when it’s really hard. I just trust it. I have to, I have to.”
Gentry – a worship leader at Forest Hills Church, one of Charlotte’s largest churches with a 6,000-plus member congregation across four campuses – says they’re just trying to learn to grieve well.
“We have to learn how to do things differently,” he said. “We can’t just plow through. We’re on a journey and it’s going to be a long one.”
When asked what the biggest difference is for them now, two months later, Hadley immediately answered.
“Things are just quieter.” Gentry smiled when she said that.
“In the mornings we would still be asleep and we’d hear Dobbs at his little gate at the door,” Gentry said. “He’d be going, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ He just loved life. He wanted to be a part of everything.”
The driver of the truck, 28-year-old Matthew Deans, has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and failure to reduce speed. Investigators said he was driving while distracted.
By the time he was at the hospital that night, Gentry said he had forgiven him.
“I remember being there in the hospital in the first 24 hours, I didn’t even know the driver’s name then,” Gentry said. “I was trying to figure out all my own emotions. I didn’t know if I’d be able to forgive this guy and I asked God for help. I said, ‘God, you know how.’”
“Well, just think about it from his perspective,” Hadley added. “Can you just imagine being the person who ran into the back of three cars and killed two sons? Can you just imagine the burden your heart would feel? I would be devastated.”
Don’t mistake young couple’s remarkably calm peace for thinking any of what they’re going through is easy.
“My arms are grieving, you know? I want to hold someone,” said Hadley. “I want to run my hands through Dobb’s hair, that’s been really hard to get used to. There’s no little person to take care of ... and, we cry a lot. I don’t want people to think we’re great. God is good and we know that, but we are sad, we’re mad, we’re scared, we’re frustrated. There’s a million emotions just all at once sometimes.”
Dobbs and Reed’s rooms are still set up as they were. The couple says they haven’t yet thought about trying to have more children.
Right now, it’s just about waking up, Hadley says, and realizing it wasn’t a dream.
“The only thing I can think of is that if God left us here, he must just not be finished with us. That’s the only thing I can think.”
Friends set up a GoFundMe page that had raised over $200,000 in two months.
But Gentry and Hadley say if you’d like to help, that you help make the legacy of their sons be used to help a Haiti mission where Gentry and Hadley have both served. Just go to mohhaiti.org.
“Mission of Hope Haiti” works to transform Haiti through projects including orphan care, education, health care, nutrition, church advancement and empowerment programs for women and their families.