|Alex and his grandfather Don during a candid moment on Easter Sunday, 2007.|
Yesterday was his birthday but there was no cake. There were no presents. No one raised their voice to sing, “Happy Birthday”. In fact, my wife and I started our day far short of celebration. We began our time together with a heated exchange about mulching the garden and then when we were honest about the cause of our pain, we held one another and cried.
Three years ago, my 22 year old nephew was driving home from work when he was in a terrible accident. Driving home on State Road 69, Alex was clipped by a driver who was in a fight with her boyfriend. The forward momentum of his truck shifted. It was forced to skid sideways, and when it the truck hit the interstate median it flipped multiple times. Despite wearing his seat belt, the force of the rotation caused him to be thrown through the back window of the vehicle and into the median grass.
|An unusual sunrise on the morning of April 18, 2007.|
The accident occurred on the evening of April 18, 2007. Family members received calls. They dropped everything and drove to the hospital to be at the bedside of this one they loved. For the next two weeks, Alex was in the ICU but there was no sign of improvement. Despite the negative prognosis, no one gave up hope.
As a family, we prayed for a miracle. Individually, we handled our grief in different ways. Some sat at the bedside in silence. Some struggled to enter the room at all. I read a Michael Crichton novel to him. In the end, nothing helped.
Alex died on May 2, 2010.
The calling hours were two days later and people were lined out the door. The family, still in shock, greeted the friends who came to share their condolences.
The funeral was held the following morning and as funerals go, it was fine. I’ve done my fair share of funerals and grave-side services and, honestly, this was nothing more than fine. It is impossible to celebrate a life cut short. There is no possible way to be thankful for a life well-lived when it has yet to be lived at all.
Alex was an intelligent young man that found humor in everything. The last time the family was together was on Easter and Alex told a story that had every family member laughing so hard that we were in tears. Holding our sides, we asked him to tell us more. He picked up his mentally retarded dog and continued with the story of the slaughterhouse field trip. We roared with laughter. His pauses were perfect. His delivery excellent. His own laughter was infectious. He had everyone on the edge of their seat. It was a beautiful moment.
On the day of the funeral, scripture was read. Prayers were lifted up to heaven. We hugged one another and wiped away tears. When the service ended, we drove to Union Cemetery and committed his body to the earth.
Our family has never been the same.