James

by

A child was hit and killed by a car a half mile from our house last Friday night. He was a rising Sophomore at the high school in our community. He was riding his skateboard from his subdivision, across the highway, to the grocery store.  A pizza delivery man hit him.

The newscaster announced the accident Saturday morning.  I woke Ryan to ask him if he knew the boy. They were the same age. Ryan came into the room rubbing his eyes. When he saw the picture of the dark haired young man wearing glasses, Ryan’s eyes opened wide. Then he said,  “He’s a freshman. We ride the same bus.”

I hugged my boy every opportunity I had over the weekend.  I hovered over him until he told me to stop. I regretted ever teasing him about walking to the store when he needed a ride. I cried for the loss of a child I didn’t know. Ryan was patient with me. His statement of “That’s enough, Mom,” came  late Sunday evening when he was trying to watch the sports highlights on television and I had my arms wrapped around him from behind as he sat in his video gaming chair.  

Monday morning I went to work. It was there that I was told that James, the teenager killed, was the son of one of our nursing assistants, Yuhong. Every day, this gentle woman goes about her work quietly, her eyes lowered. Her presence is felt, but not heard. She cares for the elders in her charge with a rare kindness not often seen, and she is the mother of James. He was her only child.

We took up a collection at work for Yuhong and her husband, gathered money, food, drink, a potted plant, and we all signed a card. We didn’t know what else to do. A friend and I stopped by Yuhong’s house Tuesday afternoon to pay our respects and deliver the items we collected. We didn’t know what to say. We just stood in her doorway with our arms wrapped around her and her husband, crying with them. They were gracious, inviting us in, allowing us to share in their grief.

I sat at Yuhong’s kitchen table, looking at the photo album of her son from the time he was born until now.  She sat, tears running, unable to speak. Her husband, a very strong man, sat telling us stories of James, how he loved playing the saxophone and wanted to join the jazz band this fall, how tennis was such a passion that he played every day in the summer,  how James had made them so proud by getting all A’s in his honors classes at school.  The brave man choked back tears as he said, “I still go to my son’s room in the morning to wake him for breakfast. This does not feel real.”

 This couple is from China. They have lived in America for ten years. Their extended family lives in China. They sat together, there at the table, alone.

 We turned pages in the photo album. I remembered my own boys at each stage of development, my joy, and such a strong feeling of love as I held them or stood beside them.  I realized today that I’ve never contemplated a time when there would be no more photographs taken of my children. I still can’t.

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2 Responses to “James”

  1. Michael Cartwright Says:

    I was going to check the “Like” option…but this is not something you like, but something you acknowledge as a tragedy. Lord, please be with this family and comfort them.

    God bless,
    Michael

  2. OldMack Says:

    Your narrative of this terrible accident choked this old man up. Tear ducts burned out by Mustard Gas prevent me from drowning my keyboard. Thank you.

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