ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A letter to Keith on Old Tannehill

Updated on September 22, 2017
A.A. Zavala profile image

Served in the U.S. Army, attended and graduated from The University of Texas-Arlington with a bachelors in psychology and minor in sociology

Keith Nelson
Keith Nelson | Source

October 1993

A day like any other in the life a newly married private in the Army. I had just gone the gym with a buddy of mine, and all of a sudden I thought of you. My heart skipped a beat, and I asked my friend to drive me to the corner gas station to buy that Street Fighter poster I saw. That was your favorite video game.

I was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston, so your momma decided to move from Killeen to San Antonio to be close to me. It all made sense, and I was excited. We were going to live together as a family. Your momma and I just got married in March, and I couldn't wait to play you in the Street Fighter arcade game. I had been practicing so I could beat you in the game at least once. Keith, you would have liked San Antonio; there are a lot of cute girls here! They would have fallen in love with you because of your blue eyes and how you were so sweet and friendly.

Keith Nelson
Keith Nelson | Source

I was living in the barracks at the time, and the desk runner working for the CQ desk (overnight call desk) ran up to find me. He told me I needed to come downstairs it was an emergency. I got my uniform on and rushed down. On the phone was a member of the Red Cross telling me that you had been in a terrible accident, and that I would be granted leave and money to get to Temple Texas. I had no car, so my platoon sergeant offered to drive me the two hours to Scott and White hospital. During the trip down, and in the parking lot as I arrived at the hospital I was numb. I was still trying to comprehend what was happening, and didn’t know how your momma was doing. As I walked through the doors, your great uncle Lou and great aunt Anita were there. I have never met them before, but they knew me. They greeted me and told me where you and your momma was.

As I walked through the doors your momma was sitting by your side weeping. You had tubes and wires all over your body. The officer outside the room told me you had been struck by a car while trying to cross the highway. In emotionally charged times, sometimes you fixate on the weirdest things. I remember becoming angry that you tried to cross the highway; why would you do that? The officer kept talking, telling me that you were with another boy who also got killed. Your momma saw me in the door, and rushed to embrace me, asking me why isn’t the hospital trying to do more for you? She was hysterical, and I had no answers. I never felt so overwhelmed before in my life. I spoke to the physician on duty, and he informed me that you were brain dead. The only reason you looked like you were alive was because of the machines. The doctor, who had no compassion, asked about donating your organs. He proceeded to tell me the procedure of rushing cold water through the organs in order to preserve them and I was horrified. I told him not tell your momma the process, and that I would ask her if she wanted to donate. What’s the first thing that asshole does? Tells your momma the process, and she lost it. I told him to get the fuck out.

Keith Nelson
Keith Nelson | Source

Eventually, crushed by the realization that you are gone, your momma consents to the donation. I hold her and take her to a local hotel. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can’t breathe. I don’t know what to do. After meeting with the insurance company ten we begin the procedure of planning for your funeral. We drove your body to a funeral home in Mcallister Oklahoma, and the burial would be at Tannehill Cemetery. I had to get with the make up artist who was working on your face for the open casket. She was sad, seeing such a handsome young man pass so young. I told her how you looked the last time I saw you, and she worked to make you look that way. As I watched her trying to put life into your face, I remembered the time when Cherub, my terrier poodle mutt, stole the steak off your plate in the living room and quickly ran off and ate it. You were mad at her, but she loved you. She sat at the window everyday waiting for you to come home until she died.

Old Tannehill Cemetery is very peaceful, nestled out in the country near Mcallister. Your brother gave a speech that was heartfelt, and your cousins were crying. Your mom was gone emotionally and mentally; your were the sweet and loving son who did no harm, loved everyone, and everything. I remember you bringing stray dogs to the house all the time wanting to keep them. When your friend was bullied at home by his dad, you kept asking your mom if he could move in with us. You had plans to join the Air force, become an attorney so you could manage your brothers musical career. You were supposed to grow up tall and handsome with a loving wife and a bunch of kids that we could babysit and spoil. Not lying lifeless in a coffin waiting to be lowered into the ground.

Keith and Augustine, just got married to his mom this day.
Keith and Augustine, just got married to his mom this day. | Source

In the days following your death, life got hard for those still alive. Your brother lost his mind, had kids with another person who was mentally ill. Your momma and I raised Skylar and Shiloh, but Zecheria was kept away from us. We miss him so much. It’s been 24 years since you went away, but your momma still cries like it happened yesterday. She struggles with losing you, and time has healed the wounds. But the scars are still painful to the touch. Life goes on, but it’s not as beautiful as it was when you were still alive.

I never had a moment to grieve during your passing, since I was so young and was the only one who could take care of everyone. I had to maintain and be strong while your mom slipped away and your brother became crazy. I waited for a moment of peace to come to me, but it didn’t happen until I penned this letter. I’m not sure what the afterlife will be like for me, but I have faith that when the time comes you will finally get to see everyone who has loved and missed you all this time. I carried this burden around for a long time, and now I can finally release and tell you how much I miss and love you. I can now move on.


© 2017 Augustine A. Zavala


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jennifer-rae profile image

      Jennifer Rae 

      5 months ago from Columbus, OH

      You're welcome. Reading your writing is always a pleasure no matter how painful the subject matter. I'm sure time can never erase the pain of losing a child, although I hope that your family has discovered some sort of solace nonetheless. ♥️

    • A.A. Zavala profile imageAUTHOR

      Augustine A Zavala 

      5 months ago from Texas

      Jennifer Rae tank you for the comment and visit. This happened right after I got married, and it was devastating for all. Time is supposed to heal wounds, but the pain still lingers. Thanks again.

    • jennifer-rae profile image

      Jennifer Rae 

      6 months ago from Columbus, OH

      How devastating; I cannot imagine losing a child! He looks a lot like my oldest son in the picture of him and you. The resemblance made this post extra emotional for me. Thank you for sharing such beautiful and such painful memories. ♥️

    • A.A. Zavala profile imageAUTHOR

      Augustine A Zavala 

      14 months ago from Texas

      Thank you Martie for the comment and visit. I know you understand loss as well. Thank you again.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      14 months ago from South Africa

      Auw, what a horrible event! Death is surely the most devastating experience - like a spiritual hurricane. RIP, Keith!

      Well written from the heart!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)