As I landed in Vancouver, I leaned my hot face against the cool airplane window. After a while, I noticed that the glass was wet. My heart was hurting so much that I did not realized that my tears had been streaming down my face onto the glass.
Yesterday, in this beautiful city, my son was killed in a horrible accident. I had planned to come here in two weeks to celebrate his 26th birthday. Instead, I was here to plan his funeral. It was so wrong, wrong, wrong, a mother should not bury her child! I was living a mother’s worst nightmare.
My precious daughter and her dear husband were waiting for me in the crowded airport. Colleen and I clung to each other and wept while family and friends encircled us. They also gathered us into their arms and hearts and poured out love and hugs like cool water. Homes were opened, meals were served and drivers were arranged.
I desperately wanted to see my son’s body and hold him. I wanted rock my child in my arms one last time. It’s ingrained in a parent to protect their child and to comfort them. I felt like I had failed. I wanted to tell him, face to face, “If I only I could have, Ben, I would have run into the street and blocked the car with my own body to save you. I have loved you with every fiber of my being.”
It was raining when we arrived in the Langley RCMP detachment. We sat in the lieutenant’s office. “No”, the police said, we cannot see the body, it was at the coroner’s office. No, we cannot have Ben’s effects, they are evidence in a criminal act. No, we cannot have the accused driver’s name, it has not been released. I wanted to scream, “Just tell me what happened!” but I was too worn out and dazed. Wasn't it enough to suffer this tragedy but now we also had to suffer through no answers. I sat there looking blankly into space not knowing what to do. We only had the address of the accident. That’s all I had of my son.
I remembered the stories of my two uncles who died in WWII, my family had no details for months either. Five years earlier, my own father was violently killed too when a train hit his car and we had no details as to why it happened. Now this, we were stricken again, and no details again.
I longed for an explanation, to make sense of how the unimaginable could possibly have happened. Was it Ben’s fault, or the driver’s or someone, or something else? I thought it would be days but it would be three years before we got the whole story at the criminal trial.
For now, our details came from the news. Our wonderful friends each had a story of the horrific moment when they realized the news report was about Ben. They showed us the articles and the 6 o’clock TV news video. There were pictures of his shoes left behind in the bicycle toe clips. We saw the car with a shattered windshield and dented roof parked some distance from where a tent was set up to cover Ben. It was surreal, newspaper tragedies are always about other people not your own son.
Our friends joined us and at the address where it happened. The scene was cleaned up and life had gotten back to normal in the neighbourhood. This spot looked like any other spot, a house on the corner, a vacant field, and a plant nursery down the street.
For us life would never return to normal. It was here at 200th Street and 83rd Avenue, in Langley, British Columbia that took our beloved son took his last breath. It was here that his earthly life came to a screeching halt and part of us died with him. It was here that Ben stepped out of this dimension and into eternity, a holy and terrible spot.
Colleen walked beside me. We were trying to reconstruct the scene. I was searching for any signs of my son. A friend spotted tire skid marks. My paramedic son-in-law offered, “This where the cars skidded to a stop because of his body.” I stared at them trying to comprehend. Then I noticed a large darkened area on the road. As I bent down to touch it, my paramedic son-in-law explained, “This has to be where he crashed to the ground, this is blood stain.” I was so grateful for my son-in-law.
“Why is it so big?” I asked.
“He lost a lot of blood on the road.” It was about as big as Ben’s 6’ 2” frame but much wider.
“How much blood do we have?”
“About 5, maybe 6.”
I was stunned, he lost over half of his blood right here. I knelt on the road and put my palms on it, to somehow touch him again. My daughter knelt with me inside this sacred stain, both of us silent.
I wondered what he saw when he died. What was it like for him to leave here? Was it a chariot swinging down low, or if shining angels had met him right here on this spot or if he entered a white light tunnel like some people say. Later, my daughter said it perfectly, “Ben bicycled right into the arms of Jesus. Boy, was he surprised.”
A few days later, at Ben’s crowded memorial funeral in Vancouver, a young woman told me her story. “I was stuck in the huge traffic caused by the accident that day. I could not see what happened but I saw the ambulances and helicopter and knew it was bad. We were at a dead stop and I got out of my car and I sat on the curb and prayed for whoever was in the accident. When I got to work at the University library, my co-worker told me that it was his friend that I prayed for.” I was so touched, and hugged her tight, “You prayed for my son! Thank you! Your prayers escorted him into heaven.”
I will fast forward in the story. It is hard to write it. Ben’s friend Jared, made a beautiful cedar marker cross. Later, before the funeral, we had a little service there on the side of the road. The cross marked the spot of Ben’s sacred journey. It was three years and many delays before the trial revealed Ben was doing everything right, no accidental mistakes. The fault was the driver’s.
I will end this blog recalling the wonderfulness of heaven where Ben is. He has arrived, be it on a chariot or with escorts of shining angels, or a white light portal or cycling right in the wide open arms of a brilliant Jesus, catching and bear-hugging his beloved child safe for all eternity.
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