He was 18 when he died.  Clear, dry autumn day.  Leaving work at noon, in light traffic on the highway. 

On my way back to work after lunch, i was headed in the opposite direction, traffic slowed due to the massive emergency response on the other side of the highway.  MedEvac helicopter parked on the highway near his upside down sport utility vehicle.  There was a large body on the gurney next to the helicopter.  Emergency personnel were standing by, but not doing anything.  According to the news reports i read later, he’d just been pronounced dead.

Reading about the one car accident, which had traffic stopped for almost five hours, i later learned his age, and gained a glimpse into who he was.  He moved to the area with his family in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina’s devastating blow to New Orleans.  He lived with his family and worked two jobs, while going to community college part time. 

Words from friends and those who knew him were moving.  He was a “gentle giant” – 360 pounds, well over six feet tall.  And full of love, kindness and humanity.  Always ready to lend a helping hand or a strong shoulder to a friend or stranger.

Every day i drive home over the place where he died.  The blackened rubber tire marks that cut a swath across three lanes of traffic are beginning to fade.  i think about him. 

No twenty-first birthday party with friends.  No proud graduation day.  No engagement or wedding, shared with a delighted family.  Children not to be… a proud father, coaching and cheering.  No heartbreak as he buries his elderly parents and realizes he’s now the grown up.   No mid-life crisis.  No retirement planning.

Poof.  A future erased.  Just like that…

17 thoughts on “poof…

  1. The thoughts of what might have been can be the saddest.

    I lost a younger brother in a swimming pool accident when he was 11. I can tell you the thoughts of who he might have become and how life can be so unfair stay with you the rest of your life.

    I believe burying a child is the toughest thing any parent can do. This task even more difficult when it happens to one so young.

    My greatest fear is that something will happen to one of my children before they have had the chance to live a full, successful and happy life.


  2. I read about stuff like this and have the encounters with damn chance I did this morning [see recent post] and I really question whether or not there’s a God. I know that’s a pretty heavy statement to throw in a comment section but I’m not confident. I think we’re all on our own.

  3. Brings alot back…both my boys lost friends last year. One to a drowning in Lake Erie and the other to a senseless, unforseen, no ones fault car accident.
    Not just the parents grieve but the other kids who were with them are devestated as well. I often wonder how profoundlythe friends lives will be changed by their trauma.
    I still miss my brothers best friend, even after almost 20 yrs. Died in a crash that killed about 5-6 others on a dark stretch of highway on the way back to Akron U. State Highway Patrol showed up at his Fathers door on Father’s Day morning. Only son, spoiled, loved, mischievous and adored by friends. Still wonder what could have been.

  4. TAG – it’s really the only thing of substance that i fear… very sorry about the death of your brother at such a young age.

    unbearable banishment – i don’t wonder about ‘god or no god’. seems a waste of time to me… to quote a favorite movie “crawling on the planets face, some insects called ‘the human race’…. lost in time… [WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW?] and lost in space…. and meaning”. that’s all, folks…

    hisqueen – my son lost a 17 year old friend in a car accident when he was 15. at least for awhile, he seemed to grasp mortality… part of the process, i guess…

    tNb – i use this space to hoark up things that weigh me down. sometimes it helps me let go of it. this has been sitting on me for a few weeks, and isn’t going away anytime soon… it’s all pretty tenuous, isn’t it?

  5. i was going to allow myself to be depressed by this. i’m still saddened, but think it’s best to use it to spur myself to take better care of myself and keep in touch with those i love. but, still…saddened.

  6. Today we had all the emergency services converged on the cross-street corner nearest to the gimcrack. A guy was threatening to jump out of a multi storey building, it was still a stalemate when I left work at 5.00 pm and had been going on since midday.

    My feeling is if he hadn’t jumped after 5 hours, they were probably going to be able to talk him down. There’s nothing on the news about it yet and I guess unless he actually dies it won’t get reported. Sad world we live in isn’t it?

  7. renalfailure – certainly leave more questions than answers.

    manuel – sorry… sometimes things get stuck in my head. this one is much darker than an earworm…

    gnu – don’t waste a breath. don’t put off a thing. oh, and probably need to wear clean underwear, too….

    nursemyra – those who really want to generally succeed… and it is sad. but it serves as a constant reminder that we’re all circling the drain, and enjoying the moment is as good as it gets…

  8. Only someone like you could post a tribute such as this.
    You have a thing with ‘connection’ and I mean that in a very good way.
    Tragic and so incredibly sad.
    You’ve done the boy well.
    Every single day, kiddo.
    Well and respectively done.

  9. When I first read this, I said to myself, “Yeah, that’s too bad really. But it happens all the time.” Then, a while later, while interacting on facebook with a cousin whom I have not seen in years, but is about a year older than me, I realized that the day you wrote this is also the day my cousin’s 17 year old son died in a senseless auto wreck two years ago. Kind of brought your post directly home.

  10. michael – nothing special about me, i’m afraid… just hate to see young people die…

    rob – yes, every single day. somewhere there are families grieving over random death. so it goes… but i’m still driving over the spot where this particular kid took his last breath every single day. can’t shake it…

  11. Checking in here and catching up. 🙂

    This was such a sweet post, daisyfae. I lost a friend, too young, due to a freak motorcycle accident over a year ago now, and for a long time tears would sting my eyes on the way to work as I drove by each day where he wrecked. I’d been told the really nasty details (TMI – considering we were close friends) and it was just very hard for me to shake.

    When it’s a youngster, though, it’s a billion times worse because these kids haven’t had the opportunity to really live, yet.. Love that you’re so empathetic. It’s always my hope that God just has other plans for these young people who leave too early.

  12. This post really struck a chord with me. I lost my childhood best friend, 10 years ago in a car accident.

    We were only 18, so I wonder what her life would have ended up like.

    And you’re right, dealing with death at that young age makes you understand your own mortality as well.

  13. lachamuca – sorry that you lost your friend. takes away the innocence and immortality we all want to feel at that age, doesn’t it? i know we’re supposed to take this knowledge and ‘live each day as if it’s our last’, but if i knew it was really my last day? i’d just get drunk and fuck a lot…. so that’s probably not good….

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