I don’t come from a large family, I only had three cousins in the area. It was my Dad’s sister’s family: two boys and a girl. They were Army brats and moved a lot, but eventually settled on our street. The girl was my age and we were inseparable growing up all the way through high school. She would escape to my house to get away from her pesky older brothers. I had my first kiss at the brothers’ party at their house.
Adulthood happens. Bill, the oldest cousin, was now thirty-two years old. He was married with three children: a four-year old girl, a three-year old girl and a nine month old baby boy. His wife was a stay-at-home-mom. I was also married, but no kids yet.
On October 31st his wife was home getting the children dressed for Halloween. She was waiting for their Daddy to get home from work and take the kids Trick Or Treating.
He never got there.
On his way home from work on Halloween night, he was struck head on by a drunk driver . . . and killed instantly.
His wife, wondering why he was late getting home, had to receive the news while the kids were in costumes. It was the most tragic of tragic — a young mother, children too little to understand, a senseless accident occasioned by stupidity. On Halloween.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were just around the corner –but it would be just the first of many holiday seasons missing a Daddy, a husband, a son, a brother, and there had been no chance to say goodbye. It rocked our entire family. It was devastatingly sad.
The services were, of course, well attended. The steering wheel had gone through my cousin’s chest and broken his jaw, but his face was otherwise intact and they were able to have an open casket. There was a viewing , the funeral itself, the burial and the reception.
It’s difficult to describe how heartbreaking it all was. There were tears from three generations, a pretty and petite mother of three– it seemed like a slight breeze could blow her away, bouncing preschool girls, a cutie-pie fat and happy baby boy, grieving parents, siblings, friends, aunts and uncles, and yes . . . cousins. It’s been years and years, but I still think of it, the horror of his senseless death.
When we arrived at the funeral reception, my then husband turned to me and said something I’ve never been able to forget.
“I’m not going to do this all day.”
Just Me With . . . no words.
P.S. This is backstory. The accident happened years ago, but understandably I think about it every Halloween. The drunk driver did some time, I don’t recall how much. It got him off the road, but it didn’t bring my cousin back. My cousin’s wife grieved hard but recovered as much as a person can. She received a settlement from the insurance and never hurt for money. She eventually remarried a family friend and had one more child. The children grew up well, the whole family keeps their father’s memory alive. That nine month old baby boy grew up to look a lot like the Dad he never knew. The girls, young women now, are beautiful, healthy and happy. His parents routinely visit the grave and leave fresh flowers on holidays. I say all this because I don’t want it to appear like I’m using this horrible tragedy just for blog fodder about me. As I said, it’s that time of year; it’s on my mind. And my husband’s statement to me at the funeral reception has haunted me for years . . . and it’s scary.
That was a horrid thing for your husband to say. He could at least kept it to himself and sucked it up for support of you and family. But, I am preaching to the choir. That was a telling statement, so of a foreshadowing of the future. It’s okay to tell sad stories on the anniversary of a tragedy. I did not consider it fodder for a post. I hope it did not ruin Halloween for the children and the mother could still celebrate for their sake.
Two weeks will be the tenth anniversary of my brother’s fatal heart attack. So, I think, too, of all the past and could-have-beens.
Yes, it was a very telling statement and a foreshadowing of the future, and the present. The widowed mother was able to celebrate Halloween with her kids after that night. She’s a strong woman. She probably never knew how strong she could be, but I guess none of us do. Hugs to you on the anniversary of your brother’s death. Some thoughts, like holidays, come around every year. Thanks again for the support.
I regularly look back and see giant red flags that were invisible at the time. What a devastating time in your life, and for him to add on something like that is unimaginable.
And it’s your blog, so whatever you want to write about is fair game. No need to apologize.
I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Heartbreaking. I also think our ex-husbands may be twins separated at birth. During my 48th hour of labor, mine said with an exasperated sigh, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” No joke. Ugh. Glad we’ve both both jettisoned those two.
First of all — 48 hours of labor? Damn. Second — your ex-husband is missing a soul. Separated at birth? Yup. I can see it.
My ex-husband sat with me in the labor room during the birth of our third. He kept his coat on and sat across the room holding a newspaper between us. I begged him to come hole my hand. He said he was too tired (31st hour of labor) and had to rest and think about something else and was too exhausted to stand. Besides, he said he wanted to read the newspaper. He refused to read it to me and told me to be quiet. I hated him at that moment and felt very sad for our future and wanted anybody but him right then. I silently cried. I was finally sedated in hopes of my relaxing enough to expel the baby coming feet first. When I awoke, he was gone. However, as far as the doctor knew, he had stood/sat vigil the whole time.
(hold my hand, not hole my hand.) He came near me when the doctor came to me after I awoke from my “nap.” Ex was right there by me, but he had to jump up when the doctor came in to get to my side in a hurry. He was all pretense…yeah, a minister.
I’m so sorry. But I understand. It’s all about the show.
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