I promised myself I wouldn’t write another post about Colin’s death that focuses on the void, but that’s exactly what this is. Grief is a very real thing that we all experience at least once in our lives, and it more than deserves to be talked about. I stated in Why A Blog? that this is intended to be a personal blog; my life is made up of travel and various crafting ventures, and it includes this grief. I have come to accept that trying to run from the emotions make them worse, and failing to discuss the things that are a focus in my life robs this project of it’s authenticity. If you leave this post now, I don’t blame you in the slightest – this one will be rough. I will use “death” and “dead” a lot. There are also a couple pictures that could be upsetting or triggering for a number of reasons (but are not what I would describe as graphic), but I’ve left them small so you have the option to click and make them bigger, or keep scrolling past them without issue. Consider this your official warning.
Everyone grieves differently, that is a widely accepted notion. Everyone exhibits grief differently, exhibits depression differently, processes situations and emotions differently.
This situation has been an outlier for me. It took one month and seven days for Colin’s death to have any hint of reality.
There are a number of times throughout that month and some that Colin’s death could have hit me but really didn’t, and I managed to walk through all of these events feeling mostly numb with only experiencing the reality of what happened for moments.
- November 6, 6:20 a.m. – My mom called me asking what I was doing, which was an instant red flag. I was house sitting, and all I did was put on a “real” shirt before hopping in the car to go to my house. I got to my house to find my aunt and my mom sitting on the couch, my aunt playing phone tag for the next hour until the coroner received Colin and could call her to make a positive ID. He was ID’d by the tattoo of her name on his left thumb, coupled with his driver’s license.
- November 6, ~7:30 a.m. – I sat with my mom and aunt as my aunt called person after person, starting with her older son, telling them Colin was dead. I did a fair amount of crying, but I did not yet believe it was really him, that it could really be him.
- November 6, 9:00 a.m. – Showing up at my Grandma’s house unannounced with my mom and aunt to tell her, Steve, and a friend of my grandma’s (who effectively introduced Colin to being a musician) in person.
- November 10, 2:00 p.m. – Parker, Jess, and my aunt walked in the back door of my home about an hour after I got off work. We all talked, doing our best to pass the time until Preston got home without bringing up the obvious. The entire time, I kept feeling like Colin would pull up outside at any point, but he wouldn’t. My dad showed me a video he took of the crash site during this time.
- November 10, 3:30 p.m. – Visiting Chapel of the Light (which you would think would be the moment it became real). I and a few others actually saw his body before he was cremated. From this, there was no more denial, no more wondering if it was really him in that car. Moreover we were able to paint a clear picture of what happened that night based on seeing him and the site alone. I have no question that he died on impact and likely had no idea what was happening. Despite that, for whatever reason it still didn’t hit me like I was thinking it would. I went to work the next day and honestly felt like nothing out of the ordinary happened the day before. *Note: We took the guitar he played every day along with a ’66 Chevy Nova HotWheel car to have cremated with him.. I took pictures of the guitar before we took it*
- November 11, 6:00 p.m. – Visiting the crash site at night and seeing the scene as he saw it. Unplanned, Parker, Jess, and some of Parker’s friends were out there too.
- November 17 – Seeing pictures of his car. On some level, this helped to complete the picture of what happened that night. *Note – There is a very specific reason I’m sharing this image, it is not to be gratuitous, it is not to be graphic, it is because I think there are far too many people who do not understand what happened. I cannot and 99% of the time will not go remotely close to the crash site. I do not feel him there. His 4 door hatchback before and after are pictured below (a committee of family members was consulted before the after picture was included in this post)*
- November 24 – The Thanksgiving that really didn’t happen. Sure, my mom made a turkey breast in the crock pot, and we had mashed potatoes, but my mom and I ate on the couch while catching up on our shows. I worked that day, and it didn’t feel like a holiday, not that many ever have to me.
- December 6 – The day we found out about the impact to date of Colin’s death from an organ and tissue donation standpoint. More than anything, I felt proud of him; for those of you who haven’t yet heard, his corneas were able to restore sight for 2 people, and his leg bones were being prepared to be used as grafts. Moral of that part of the story: be an organ and tissue donor. It’s among the easiest and most selfless things you could do.
- December 10 – Going back to my grandpa’s house with my mom to gather some of our family memorabilia. Among other personally significant things, I made sure I claimed the wood game set the four of us grandkids would always beeline for once we got to the house.
None of that made it real. What finally made this whole disaster real for me was a dream I had ending right around 2 a.m. on December 13. This dream was easily one of the most vivid dreams I have had in a very long time. Colin and I were walking together and talking about a variety of things, including the accident and aspects of our personal lives. His whole attitude to me was that the details don’t matter. Even more fascinating for me, he had brought me to this place that is a combination of 3 places I felt/feel comfortable in, and as we walked our arms were around each other and I could feel him against my right side. At the end we met our moms in the parking lot of the housing complex we were walking through and I passed him off to her. At the time, I didn’t know if I’d ever see my aunt smile like that again.
Since I had that dream, it has been real. Very real. I now believe that the lack of tangible response until I had that dream had to do with “survival” of sorts. The day after Colin died, I started a new job that was able to take the bulk of my focus. After I had settled in, which paralleled time-wise with the dream described above, I could not do that nearly as well and I have felt much more of this.
There have been and will still be good days, just as there have been and will be bad days, but that is all part of working through it. There are days where I forget what has happened, and others where it slaps me in the face. Every other time I pull onto his street I still expect to see him outside working on his car. Not a day goes by that I don’t want to talk to him, to apologize, to tell him what crazy thing a family member said at dinner, to give him a hug, to listen to him talk about his future, to tell him I love him. But, this is reality, and I cannot do any of those things if I expect a tangible response.
To those of you who have been there, I cannot ever thank you enough. Some of you have been listening to me talk about my emotional depths for years, and you have been steadfast through this tragedy checking in on me on a very regular basis, asking about my family too. Others who have only known me after Colin’s death have come through in ways that are beyond anything imagined or expected. I am, and will continue to be grateful for you all. You’re A+ human beings.