Hannah and her fiance broke up a few months ago, after 18 months together as a couple and a lifetime of friendship; I think they met in fifth or sixth grade, and even dated for a short time about 18 months before they got together again. In fact, they went to his homecoming together. The break-up was ugly and dramatic, as they do tend to be when miscommunication (or no communication) plays a major role. Ugly words were said between them, and there was no contact after that last night. He moved out, and prompted by his father (who really did not like Hannah and was glad they broke up), took everything out of the house including all of the food out of the fridge. All of Aubry’s things were left alone, but Hannah had nothing save her clothes and one towel. The night they broke up, he got into a wreck; he said he blacked out and next thing he knew he was pinned upside down in his vehicle. He was lucky to be alive, we all told him, and he knew that, was so grateful. We kept contact with him until last month, when he and I got into an argument of sorts when he blamed Hannah for his accident. Still, he talked with Eli quite a bit, and Steve, and was very kind to the little boys when he saw them.
Last night he was in another accident, and this time he wasn’t so lucky. He was working, driving home from delivering fertilizer, and he was involved in a head on collision. There was an explosion and both drivers died at the scene, their vehicles fully engulfed in flames within seconds. We knew before the general public, before his parents even knew, due to the fact that his boss is Steve’s brother; Steve is actually the one who got him the job as he used to work there as well. S. called Steve and said hey, one of our trucks has been in an accident and Josh is the only person not accounted for, so..Hannah was here at the house with me, and I couldn’t tell her anything because we didn’t know for 100% sure, even though we knew. And then, later, when it became official, I had to tell Hannah, and then Sam and Eli and….
We are all so heartbroken, all of us. Not simply because a 20 year old died in a horrible accident, and a 72 year old. It was beyond horrible, actually; explosions, flames, bodies burned beyond recognition. Josh’s boss had to go to the scene and verify that it was their truck and tell them who the driver was. That alone is awful enough, but this was someone we knew and loved. Telling Hannah was one of the worst things I have ever done, watching the look in her eyes as the reality sank in. Yes, they were no longer together, but I think there were hopes on both sides that they would work it out in the future-there just wasn’t time. She loved him, and it didn’t work out for reasons we have all experienced, and their last words were hateful, ugly ones. It isn’t just the loss of life, it is the loss of myriad possibilities. They lived together and loved together, he was in Aubry’s life for over a year and was a great father-figure for her, and he cherished Hannah. Then they broke up and both of them were so sad, but at the time it was what needed to happen. Now, there is no chance of mending fences, no taking back of harsh words, no forgiveness bestowed on either side.
So now we sit back and try to process this grief we aren’t really supposed to feel. We can’t go visit with the family and offer food and hugs and draw comfort from each other. Hannah cannot walk up to his family at the services and tell them how sorry she is, how her heart breaks because he was a good young man who should still be alive. There are those close to our family who have said,”I don’t know why Hannah would be upset, it’s not like they were still together.” True-but it has only been a couple of months, not years. Not that what anyone thinks really matters; grief is grief, and we are all feeling it, but Hannah most keenly.
We went swimming and ate dinner and Steve and I made frantic love, trying to hold on to this life because we don’t know how long we have. We each cry our private tears and speak gently to one another, reminded starkly that what we have together really is fleeting and we shouldn’t waste any time. We are parents who feel the pain of another pair of parents who lost their son-we can’t imagine, and hope we never have to experience this. The children are sad and scared, because accidents happen; if it can happen to Josh, it can happen to any of us. Of course this hyper-awareness of the transience of life can’t last-but for now, we are all very sure to tell one another how much we love each other, how much we matter.
Josh has a good family, and he was well-loved; pray for them. He was a good friend, so pray for his friends too. He had grandparents and siblings and a brand new baby niece who is never going to remember having met him. Pray for all of them. I don’t know how you feel about souls and the afterlife, but pray for a safe journey to wherever he is headed next. Pray for the peaceful repose of his soul.Pray it was fast, that he didn’t have time to even be afraid. Just-pray.