December 5th is the hardest day of the year. It’s the anniversary of the death of one of my extra sons, Jeremy. I knew him his whole, short, life and love him so much, still. He was my youngest son’s best friend.
Jeremy was 19 when he died, along with a young man named Josh, in a single vehicle accident on an old country road. The truck they were in hit a tree at a very high rate of speed. Even though it was determined that the driver hit the brakes 250 feet from point of impact, the truck was totally demolished. Their bodies, also totally demolished, were commingled and unrecognizable as even being human. The police could not determine who was driving.
By all accounts, both were piss drunk that evening. Neither should have been driving. Had they not been en route to a bar to meet the friends who would later report them missing, it could have been days before they were found. As it turned out, a time of death could not be established due to the cold weather, but it was clear that they had been alone, dead, out on that road for most of that night.
They separated the boy’s remains as well as they could, simply dividing the rest between the families, who still blame each other for the accident to this day.
Jeremy posted to his MySpace that afternoon. His status read: “I’m gonna be a daddy!”
I posted congratulations, even though I wasn’t thrilled that yet another one of the boys had knocked up their girlfriend. I told my youngest, who already knew and thought it was awesome that he was going to be an uncle. I rolled my eyes and that was that. The next day, at work, my youngest would call me screaming into the phone that Jeremy was dead. I never heard him cry that way before or since.
I think that most of us have been deeply affected, in one way or the other, by drunk drivers. We are always relieved when we hear that a drunk crashed, but only hurt or killed himself and didn’t take an innocent with him. But, even then…when they don’t take a stranger with them, they still take others. Jeremy’s death changed so many lives….caused so much pain, as did Josh’s death. Jeremy’s child, a beautiful little girl, will never know what an amazing person her father was. His mother and stepfather couldn’t deal with losing him and the strain was too much for their marriage. They divorced a few years ago. His father, stepmother and half siblings were broken for so long. Now and then, my youngest goes to his house and they all sit around laughing and telling stories about the stuff the boys pulled growing up. And, Jeremy’s band of brothers from other mothers remember him every year on this terrible day. Some still living with the guilt of telling him and Josh to meet them at the bar that night.
As for me, I think that I have a very healthy outlook on death. I’ve lost several ‘extra’ sons in the last ten years, and I remember them on the anniversaries of their passing, too. I light a candle, have a lil cry and get on with my day. Even with Derrick. But Jeremy…I can’t seem to get over that one. I just can’t. He’s one of the few people I ever truly mourned. And I miss him so much. Youngest does, too, and we’ll have a talk about him later today. Mostly, I cry all day on this day…every year, even though I don’t want to. Jeremy’s death sort of set in to my internal clock, I guess. Anyway, it is what it is. And, what it is, is a long miserable day.