She could hear it but couldn’t see it. Somewhere in the distance a phone was ringing. She must be dreaming. It wouldn’t stop. Ring…..ring…..ring. Slowly she came awake and realized it was their house phone. She looked at the clock; 2:00 a.m. Alarmed, she quickly got out of bed and rushed to answer the phone. In her mind there were only two reasons the phone would be ringing at this hour; a prank phone call or the bearer of bad news. She was hoping for the former and realized it was the latter when she heard the voice of her sister-in-law. Her sister-in-law was telling her Mike was dead, killed in a tragic auto accident. Still groggy from sleep, she thought to herself, “Not again.” She had already lost two brothers now a third? And, “What was her brother doing out driving at that time of the morning anyway?” Her brother and sister-in-law had been high school sweethearts and she was wondering about her sister-in-law’s grief. Then she understood. Her sister-in-law was calling to tell her their 17 year old nephew had died.
Just the day before she heard the Holy Spirit whisper to her to email her brother, the
father of her nephew, Matthew 5:4; Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. She did not and now he would need that more than ever. No parent ever wants to outlive their children, and yet, her parents had outlived their two oldest sons before they too passed within three months of each other. Now, six months after their father had passed and three months after their mother had passed, her brother was burying his own son.
They had been best friend’s since they were little. Now one was dead and the other had his legs amputated at the knee’s. His best friend had been the driver of the car. Her niece and another friend had been in the back seat of the car. It was late January, the 27th to be exact, the streets were wet and slick from a recent rain. The driver was speeding and lost control in front of their high school. The car wrapped around a light pole and split in half. Her nephew was killed instantly, her niece and friend were thrown from the back seat of the car. The driver had to be cut from the wreckage. Both girls suffered back injuries, her niece a broken back and burns from where the muffler, it was the muffler wasn’t it? Landed on top of her. She still bears the scars. It is by the complete grace of God that she is walking today.
It has been almost seven years since this tragedy struck our family and it still seems like yesterday. No one ever wants to think it can’t happen to them, until it does. The healing has been slow but God has been gracious and always with us.
I have learned two important things from this tragedy. Never let the sun go down without telling your loved ones you love them and be the driver you want you children and the young people in your sphere of influence to be.
As part of my brother’s healing process and to keep the memory of his son, Mike, alive, he started a non-profit called Get Real Behind The Wheel. They host monthly safe teen driving with on track driving instruction for teens and their parents. You can visit them here.
In the words of my brother, “Keep It Real Behind The Wheel.”