What do you say to someone when they lose a child…I have tried all week to connect with an old childhood friend who is like a sister to me, she lost her 16 year old son last Sunday in a car accident. My sister called from Ocala around 10:30 AM last Saturday crying and the my first thought was that something bad has happened. The hardest part of living in Nashville is I am so far from my family and you realize how helpless that makes you in a time of emergency. When she told me that Kim’s son had been in an accident around 9:00 AM and had been air lifted to Shands in Gainesville I knew it was bad. After hanging up the phone I felt as if I was loosing one of my family members. I got on my knees for the first time in a long time (atleast the getting down on my knees part) and prayed. As much as I hate to admit it something deep inside me said he would not make it, it actually made me mad that I thought it because I did not want to be negative under the circumstances and I wanted to believe there was still hope. Because I am practicing the law of attraction and trying to find my inner spirit I have been paying more attention to my inner thoughts, atleast the ones that I feel are leading me somewhere. That thought was not one I wanted to feel or believe at the time.
I grew up in a small town called Salt Springs on a lake about 30 miles outside of Ocala, Florida. My closest friends were Kim and her brother Lamar (AKA Marzie) Gay. Their mother, Christi was and still is like a second mother to me. There is a closeness with them that I can’t explain. Even though years often go by with out connecting, when we finally do, it is as if it were yesterday we were running through the woods playing. I have always felt a special bond…a closeness to them that never goes away even after 40+ years. Perhaps because we spent atleast our first 14+ years of life growing together. My family with their family. It was very special and contains many of my most memorable childhood experiences. So much so that I feel Christi (Kim’s mom) is the main reason I pursued art and became a photographer. Christi was a graphic designer and artist and my earliest memory as a child was her giving Marzie and I some artistic project to keep us entertained. Lamar, her husband at the time (their father) was very artistic as well.
On Sunday my sister called me around 10 AM to tell me that Kim’s son, Daniel (Danny) Walrath had passed away from the head injury he suffered from the accident. I was in Costco and tried to hold it together until I got home. I closed the bathroom door and sat on the floor feeling sad and empty as the tears fell. I have struggled with the fact that at 42 I more than likely will not have kids in my lifetime. I missed the boat on that one, by settling into unhealthy relationships time and time again and have been feeling a bit uneasy with the fact that I will never experience what most people say is the most gratifying part of life…having a child. So as I sat there on the floor thinking about how awful this was I couldn’t fathom what it might feel like to lose your own child. This whole week I have felt the weight of Danny’s death and the pain they all must be going through and I am sad. Life is full of so many surprises and I just don’t understand. Some of the things that have gone through my mind this week after being sad and then mad is why does God take someone so young with so much to look forward to in their future. Why not take someone like me, I have no obligations to anyone other than myself and I am not making any earth shaking acts of goodness in this world. It just doesn’t seem fair.
Over the past week I have tried several times to reach both Christi and Kim by phone to say….well what ever it is you are supposed to say. I did leave a message for Christi and after breaking down on the message wondered how badly I would upset her in person if I couldn’t even hold it together with voice mail. Even now typing this the tears keep coming and it all still feels so hard to believe. Today they had the viewing and Saturday will be the funeral. My mother had already told them I would be unable to attend the funeral and they understand. They have said with the overwhelming number of friends and family, connecting by phone means so much more.
So after a week of thinking about all this, the only conclusion I can come to is that we all have a purpose on this earth, something that we were put here to do, that we may not know or understand and mine surely is still to come. Somehow, someway I want to make a difference. And Daniel’s purpose…well, perhaps it was to touch all the lives of those he came across in the 16 short years he lived and to remind us how precious life is. That we have no idea when it will be our time or someone we love’s time to go. Tell the people you love that you love them and tell those who are important to you that they matter, don’t just think about it DO it, you may not have another chance.
Tomorrow I will once again try to reach Kim by phone. So what do you say to someone when they lose a child…it seems so much harder by phone than to just show up with no words and give a hug. The only thing that comes to mind right now is that I am sorry and I love her like a sister, she is and always will be family to me.
My friend Jeremy say’s it best in this song….
In loving memory of Daniel (Danny) Walrath RIP.