On Tuesday I had lunch with a friend. During the general “kibitzing” we did about our children she made a comment that has stayed with me all week and bounced around in the back of my head.
It Could Be Worse…..
And it immediately took me back to a day 6 months ago when it was worse. So much worse.
But that’s the end of the story, not the beginning.
In Sept. 2001, just a week or so after 9/11, Mark, Ben, Andy and I moved to Tampa, Florida. It was a difficult move for all of us. Mark was moving to the Corporate Office, the boys were moving to a new school and I was leaving behind my family and friends. After a couple of weeks just sitting in the house and going stir crazy I made a call to the boys new school and practically begged them to give me something to do! That afternoon the President of the PTA called and saved my sanity.
Her name was/is Grace and she immediately put me to work in the school volunteering. Grace was also my neighbor and soon my friend. She took me and the boys on a tour of Tampa along with her two boys Joe and Josh. (Joe was a couple of years older than Ben and Josh fell right in between Ben and Andy.) We had a blast and Grace and I remained close. As our boys moved from the Elementary school to the Middle School Grace and I stayed involved in the schools and our love of scrapbooking kept us close.
In 2005 Grace, Terry, Joe and Josh were transferred to Boston. And I mourned the “loss” of a very good friend. Although with Grace, she never really leaves your life. If I saw her tomorrow we would pick right up with our last conversation and carry on as if we had never been separated by distance.
In 2006 Mark, Ben, Andy and I moved back to Indiana and with the adjustment of that move I began to lose touch with some people, Grace being one of them. Then in April of this year Grace and I reconnected by way of the internet. We had a great time catching each other up on our lives and the lives of the boys. Joe had just finished his first year of College and was still living at home. Josh was in High School and still having a hard time adjusting to the move. But the boys were still very close. Every Sunday Joe and Josh would go paintballing at the local park and then have dinner together at Dairy Queen on their way home.
On Mother’s Day of this year, Joe and Josh had gone paintballing and stopped at Dairy Queen as usual. Grace was in Texas visiting her mother for Mother’s Day and had called Josh’s cell phone to talk to them. As she said goodbye she told Josh “you know I love you boys”. “Tell Joe Joe to be careful”. And the line went dead.
At that moment a drunk driver came across the center lane of the highway and struck the boys head on. Joe died instantly. Josh was pulled from the car and taken to the hospital and thankfully has recovered.
At least from his injuries, but not from the loss of his brother whom he adored.
At the funeral Grace said “Joe always said he wanted to live with us forever. Forever turned out to be 19 years”.
I know for those of us who knew Joe and even those who didn’t, he isn’t far from our minds nor are Grace, Terry and Josh. Joe was a delight and I feel privileged to have known him.
It is important for me to remember when life gets me down to be thankful for what I have. Never take anything for granted. Stop and look around as I run through my days and take a moment to appreciate all I have been given. Because, sadly, as much as I sometimes feel overwhelmed and frustrated…….
It Could Be Worse.