- Family and Parenting
Remembering My Son Jason Who Died in an Accident
Everyone Seemed to Love Our Son
Getting the News that My Child Had Died
Before I knew that my child had died, I walked wearily toward the front door after my doctor appointment in Westlake. Before coming home I had stopped to see my close friend Valerie, and had shared with her the unease in my heart about Jason's trip to the lake to water ski with some people from church. The trip had been arranged by the pastor the night before, after the funeral of a young person who had died in a car accident the previous Thursday. Pastor Steve hoped the trip would help distract our young people after the death of their friend.
Kosta and I had not wanted to let Jason go. First, Kosta needed Jason's help that day to finish up some work at a rental property. Second, both Kosta and I had some sort of premonition that something bad would happen at the lake. When Jason had asked Monday night if he could go, we said we'd decide in the morning. After Jason was in bed, we discussed it. Jason had spent most summer days helping out and it was true that he deserved a break, but we both had this really awful feeling. I had had such feelings before, when Jason would go off to ride his mountain bike, and he always came back in one piece, so I wondered if Brian's death had just made me more fearful. We didn't have a logical reason for telling Jason he couldn't go. How do you tell a 14-year-old boy who has always wanted to try water skiing that he can't go because Mom and Dad have an awful feeling something might happen?
The next morning we told Jason we didn't want him to go, but we didn't have a rational reason to keep him home because of our feelings. We told him he could go if he really, really wanted to, and he chose to go. When the pastor arrived in his van to pick him up, we hugged him and reminded him how much we loved him, and said goodbye. He said, "Don't worry, Mom, I've got my life jacket. "
After seeing him off, Kosta and I prayerfully and with heavy hearts, went about our day. He went to the rental to work until it got too hot. I did things around the house until the time of my doctor appointment. It's as though all day we were waiting for the other shoe to drop. We had been told that the event would be over about two and the lake was about two hours from home, so I was concerned about getting home before Jason did to make sure he could get in. I left Valerie's about four, telling her I didn't know what I'd do if anything happened to Jason. She replied that she knew she couldn't handle it if anything happened to her daughter.
So there I was, walking toward the porch, glad to see my husband had got home first and Jason wouldn't be locked out. The first alarm bells went off in my head when Kosta met me at the front door -- a first. Beyond him I saw our close friends Jim and Sally, who almost never just dropped in on us. It was the other way around. So my first question to Kosta was, "What happened?' I was not prepared for his answer, "Jason's dead." It was August 27, 1991, and it's a day I will never forget.
The picture is of Jason in 1988.
God is Always in Control
Jason A Few Weeks Before His Death
How God Prepared Me for Jason's Death
Although no parent is ever mentally prepared for the sudden and unexpected death of a much-loved child, the Lord was preparing me in small ways that I did not recognize as preparation as they occurred. A few weeks before we had all gone to a previous church for its anniversary celebration and Jason had met the people there. It was a 90-minute drive, and Jason preferred his own church, but it was providential that he meet the congregation at Crenshaw Christian Reformed Church.
At the end of their service, as a benediction, they sang the words to Jude 24-25: Now unto him that is able to keep, able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding great joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever, Amen! I had been singing this around the house ever since then, and the words had been pounding themselves into my spirit. I just had not known why they were so important -- until Jason was presented faultless before the presence of his glory.
Those of you who knew Jason knew he had faults. He was no angel, though he was usually cheerful, friendly, helpful, kind, compassionate, and obedient. Just not always. Like the rest of us who follow Jesus, he trusted not in his goodness to stand before the throne of God, but in the work of Jesus on the cross , through which his sins were forgiven. Just a few months before his death, on Palm Sunday, he had professed his faith publicly and was baptized. It was his decision, and it was a great comfort to us that he had made it. It was a great shock for us to lose Jason, but we had no doubt as to where he was headed when he left us. This picture was taken the day of the Anniversary Celebration at Crenshaw Christian Reformed Church in 1991, not long before Jason died
Also, after Jason had left for the lake, to try to settle my spirit, I had turned to the Psalms. I was on a schedule of reading the Psalm that matched the day of the month, and I on this morning of August 27, I read Psalm 27. The first verse and the last two especially served as preparation for what was to come:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?....
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yea, wait for the Lord.
One is never really prepared to lose a loved one.
Death is a final earthy separation from loved ones who remain alive. You will feel it. If the death is sudden and unexpected, it will have an even greater impact on those who remain, than an expected death.
There is No Feeling Quite Like That You Have When You Hear Your Child is Dead - Yet Everyone Experiences it Differently.
Although no one else's experience will duplicate yours, there will be some common characteristics. One of them is the helpless feeling. Another is the thought that this can't be real.
Many grieving parents have testified about the help they found in this book on how to make positive progress through their grief. I wish such a book had been there for me when I lost Jason.
The Cold Facts by an Objective Observer -- the Daily News
A Mother's Eulogy at Memorial Service, August 31, 1991. - Or Memories from a Mother's Heart
Thank you all for coming today. The Jason I know and love is probably asking his heavenly Father for permission right now to"just go say hi to all my friends." Most of you are here today because you are his friends. Some who have not known him well are here because you love us or because Jason's life or death had touched you in some way. I would like to introduce you the Jason the rest of us know so well.
Jason loved living life. He lived it with intensity. He crammed into it all the joy and activity he could. Because he loved it so much, he wanted it for everyone. He spoke out against abortion and participated in every Walk for Life he knew about. He has always been thankful that his birth mother cooperated with God in giving him the miracle of life.
Jason loved everything God made. All of creation was his playground. He love to climb trees, mountains, and rock jetties. He liked surfing in the ocean, digging in beach sand, kyacking on lakes and rivers, swimming, snorkeling, panning for gold in the river, riding speedboats and hovercraft, and, finally, jet skis, across the water.
Jason Loved Wheels and Vehicles
He delighted in anything with wheels. He always loved bikes, and finally this past June, got the mountain bike he had wanted for so long. He was hoping to earn his cycling badge before school started. As he passed through the phases of his short life he rode his first "bikey" at age five, and progressed to scooters, BMX, and 10 speeds. When he was about ten be began to roller-skate, and as soon as we let him, he began to travel with his ever-present skateboard. When he was about twelve, Terry (his fireman friend) gave him "Putt Putt," a motor scooter made from a lawn mower engine. He would walk it the three blocks to the church, put on his helmet, and ride it all over the church grounds. He would let his friends ride it, too. Then, on his last Christmas, came roller-blades, and, finally, his mountain bike. Had he lived, he was planning to rebuild my VW bug with Kosta.
Jason Knew How to Use Tools and Build
Jason was imaginative and creative in using tools and building things. He and his friend Danny Hart, built the "Hart Cart" to pull with a bicycle. They also built one of the most interesting tree houses you've ever seen (See it partially built below.)
Kosta taught Jason to change the oil in our cars, tune them, and make other repairs. They have put in vinyl floors, fixed windows, worked on plumbing and electrical repairs, and painted together. The day before he died he had just learned to use the spray painter and when he got the hang of it, he told Kosta they ought to start a K and J Construction Company.
Jason and Machines
Jason was fascinated with building and construction. He used to get up at 6:30 every week morning and bike down to a local construction area for new homes so he could be on the site when the workman arrived. He liked to chat with them while they drank their coffee. He watched everything they did, learned their names, and was thrilled when ever they let him help in any way. He was crushed the day the foreman appeared and told him that because of liability laws he would have to do his watching from the sidewalk. He could name all the machinery. He knew what it did. And he was excited to see each phase of the construction completed.
He was also interested in road construction. He never minded when we had to slow down for it on the freeway, because that gave him more time to watch the machines and heavy equipment at work.
Jason did not wait for formal introductions to people. If he was out riding his bike or his skateboard around the neighborhood and saw someone doing something interesting in a yard or garage, he'd stop and get acquainted. The next thing I knew he'd be telling me about his new friend. That's why Jason had friends of all ages....
Tame and Wild Animals Responded to Jason
Jason was a friend to animals. I'm sure he knew every dog in the vicinity of our neighborhood by name, and if any of them got loose, he'd bring them home for safe keeping until their owners got home from work and he could return them. He loved to play with kittens, and became a special friend of the Loseys' cat, Kalua..One dream about to be realized was our move to Templeton to a 14-acre property where he would get his first puppy, and, perhaps later, a horse. He liked to observe the wild critters, too -- especially deer, possums, and squirrels. Once on a hike on Catalina Island he even petted a bison.
Jason with Deer at Camp
Jason Loved People
Jason loved people. He was generous in giving whenever he saw a need. He liked to share with his friends. He tithed his earnings to help hungry people and his church. Though he was a tease, and sometimes overdid it, he blamed it on Kosta and his grandpa, both of whom set an example in that area.
Sometimes he visited the neighbors a bit too often and might have been somewhat of a pest. Sometimes he bugged us and we had wished he would stop. Now I'll kind of miss it. But he was also compassionate and helpful, and wanted to cheer up anyone who seemed to need it.
Jason's Now in His Final Home
Jason has lived in many homes. We met him when he lived next door to us with the Tyree family as a foster child. I met him the same way many of you did. I was working in my front yard and he watched me and asked what I was doing.
Then God allowed us to adopt Jason into our family, and his home was with us. When Jason became a Christian, he, like all believers, was adopted into God's family. And now he lives in his eternal home with his Heavenly Father. His other homes were all temporary. Now he is in his permanent home. We'll never have to wonder again where he is. We'll never have to worry any more about whether he'll get hurt. God took him home with less pain and trauma than he's suffered from lesser accidents in his own neighborhood.
If you knew Jason, you know how he could never seem to stay with the group. On hikes he always seemed to run ahead. He was more often early than late. He liked to be the first to discover something wonderful, new, or exciting, and then run to tell his friends about it. We used to call him our little P.A. system, and thought maybe he should consider being a news announcer or reporter.
Well, folks, he's done it again. He's run on ahead of us and discovered wonders even his imagination could not have dreamed up. I know he'd love to tell us about it. He'd like to tell us all the new things he's learned about his friend Jesus, and he'd like you to meet him if you haven't. He can't come back to us. But you can meet Jesus the way he did
Jason. Family, and FriendsClick thumbnail to view full-size
What his sister Sarah wrote for his memory album on the day after his death.
My dear brother Jason,
I had such a great pain in my soul for you. you were and still are so special to me. I have loved you so much, even though at times I couldn't express it. i wanted to do so very much with you. I wanted to have a really deep friendship with you as you got older. Now this cannot be and I cry. For I feel such a loss. You are never going to be forgotten. You are in my heart and the memory of you -- of us together as brother and sister -- will be cherished above all. I know you are happy now and will be fine wherever you are or wherever you go. I can feel a peace inside myself -- from you, I believe. But I cannot help but miss you and I know I will until we meet again.
You're ahead of us all, my dear brother. You always are.
I love you.
After eighteen more years, Sarah could no longer function without Jason in her life. She is now buried beside him.
Many others also spoke at Jason's memorial service
Above you see Kosta, who is sharing his view of the God Jason knew. Unfortunately, Kosta never writes out what he's going to say, so I don't have a copy to share with you here.
Next to Kosta sits Gordon Van Enk, who was the main pastoral speaker. He had recently retired as the pastor of the Crenshaw Christian Reformed Church in Los Angeles, our former church. We invited him to speak because we knew it would be a hard task for Steve Davis, in whose arms Jason died, to do the job.
Many friends also shared memories of Jason, including scoutmasters, church members, and peers. Some of the closest could not speak, but the tears in their eyes spoke volumes.
Credits to the Musicians
Pictured above are Larry Lindsay, Janis Brittenham, and David Chao (with guitar), who offered their musical gifts for the service as a token of love. Jason used to babysit for Larry's children during choir practice, since Larry and Janis were in the choir with me. David was from the Crenshaw Christian Reformed Church and had been in Sunday School Classes and youth groups where I shared leadership. Since then he and his wife have served God in missions. Larry and Janis prepared a special duet "See you On the Other Side" by Chris Harris and Morgan Cryar -- NOT Ozzy Osbourne -- as a surprise musical gift, a song I had never heard, but which had special meaning. I cannot share the words because it is copyrighted.
Others also offered musical gifts, including Phyllis Melampy, our church organist.
Music at the Service
I originally shared excerpts from the songs the entire congregation sang at Jason's memorial service. Since this format doesn't allow what I did before this moved to HubPages, I will share the introduction and title of the songs for those who might remember them. They are songs he knew, songs we often sang in the car together on family trips, songs that reflect what he loved. These are not songs typically sung at memorial services, and many of them are no longer sung at all very much, since they reflect what was sung in the 1970s and 1980s in youth groups. The words, though, have not lost their meaning, and some of these songs have managed to survive in churches today. These songs broke up the various parts of the service, since many children were present who needed to stretch their legs by standing at intervals.
Thank You for Giving Me the Morning
If any one character trait stood out in Jason, it was gratitude. He was always so appreciative of anything anyone did for him that it made you want to do even more. He never took the attitude that anyone owed him anything, and "Thank you." was a phrase he used often.
That's one reason we choose to sing "Thank You" by Walter Van Der Haad and PeterpPaul Van Lelyveld, Copyright, 1964 by Gustav Bosse Verlag. The words express gratitude for the morning, the new day, and the knowledge that all all worries can be cast on God. The prayer song thanks God for his boundless love and the ability to be glad and thankful.
Jason Loved God and His Family
Jason loved his family and recognized his family's love for him as an extension of God's love. This extended family picture was taken the day he was baptized, and it was very important to him that his half-brother Bob's family was there to witness this special event. Sarah was also there, on the left, next to Bob's family. Jason knew he was "safe and secure in the Rock of all ages, His banner over me is love." That's why we sang this song by B. C. Lauerlton (©1969, Alfred B. Smith). You can hear the most appropriate version I found on YouTube below.
His Banner Over Me Is Love
Jason Was Patriotic
Jason Loved America
Jason loved his country with all his heart, and we took him to see as much of it as we could. He was a Boy Scout, and he had finally settled down and decided he wanted to work toward Eagle Scout before death stopped him.
This upper picture shows him at a Court of Honor, pinning me with my own recognition when he received his Arrow of Light. Scouting knows that moms help to keep their sons motivated and has each boy acknowledge that. In the picture under that, you will see that Jason's brother scouts took an active part in his memorial service, including providing a color guard for the entrance of the American Flag.
We Had to Include This Song At the Service
Jason's Good Shepherd
Jason always identified with the lost sheep who was found. I remember when he was five and we had been talking about the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep. When I tucked him into bed that night, he said, "I'm God's little lambie, aren't I?" I assured him that he was.
That's why we also chose to sing "Surely Goodness and Mercy" by John Peterson at the service. It was one of his favorites and ours. I chose the video below after listening to many different versions. This was the most appropriate for this hub, and I also liked the images.
"I Shall Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever"
An Appropriate Poem by Edgar Guest
To All Parents
"I'll lend you for a while a child of mine," He said.
"For you to love the while he lives and mourn for when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief."
"I cannot promise he will stay; since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over in My search for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes I have chosen you.
Now will you give him all your love, not think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take him back again?"
"I fancied that I heard them say, "Dear Lord, Thy will be done!
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known, forever grateful stay;
But should the angels call for him much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand!"
I realize other parents have used this in their tributes, too, because it is so appropriate when a child dies. If HubPages makes me, I will remove it. But I hope they let me keep it here.