The caller? Our youngest son. Jamie’s Dad.
He methodically explained all he knew up to that point in time. I listened. (What do you do when your youngest son calls to report his firstborn child is gone? Gone… at his own hand. What do you do? Listen.) Before we hung up the phone, we prayed. That next morning, Sunday morning, our flight arranged easily as our son worked for a major airlines. We were grateful for that. The airlines made the flights, and the employees made it comfortable. We made our way to Denver. In shock, I remember meeting family there. So few details remain. It was a time of intense sadness.
Several days were spent together with family and relatives awaiting Jamie’s body released from the morgue in the mountains and transported to Denver. Wanda and I went with Carlton and Kathy to the funeral home to choose a casket and vault. Over the years, Wanda and I had buried both our Dads along with a step-father. In addition, recent to that time, we made all the funeral arrangements for Wanda’s mother, so we had some idea our limited experience would be helpful at such a time. We appreciated the funeral home representative who was respectful, helpful, and non-pressuring. He left us alone, so we could take the time we needed to think through all the details. We are simple people, so deciding how many pillows are sufficient for burial can seem complicated. Difficult though it was, Wanda and I were thankful we could be of some help in this process.
Then the day came. All the men of the family went to the funeral home to view the body before the rest. Tears flooded me. My expression, “What a waste!” A whole, hopeful life ahead. Jamie was so intelligent and hard-working. Humble and compassionate. He could have been a doctor, a lawyer, or a business man, but he did not grant himself the opportunity to live out his capabilities. Those 17 years were not a waste, but all I could see, as a grandfather at that moment, was all he had ahead of him. Vanished.
As written in The Fierce Good-bye: Hope in the Wake of Suicide, a response to a daughter-in-law’s death:
“I stood beside the coffin a few moments, my brain a turmoil of confusion. Grief, loss, and pity flooded over me, but the most overwhelming feeling was one of waste. For those who are desperately ill, death can be a welcome relief. Sudden death by accident or heart failure always shock and devastate. But suicide, deliberate self-destruction, especially of a talented and gifted young person appalls. The unfulfilled dreams, the unfinished work, the uncompleted promise, mock like demons.”
The Fierce Good-bye: Hope in the Wake of Suicide G. Lloyd Carr and Gwedolyn C.Carr 27
After those intense moments, God’s grace did a healing work helping me to focus more on being thankful for the remaining family members, especially the grandchildren. God granted strength to free my focus on this horrible death and shift to the life we who remain are called to live.
continued… Grandpa Darrell Remembers… Mercy (part 3)