5:47 am August 13, 2013
There was a knock on the door. I looked out the window and saw a cop car. Not good. Never a good thing to have a cop at your door. Worse this time of day.
I grabbed my bathrobe; Ron got up to get dressed.
Officer Wiggins had seen the news on the police wire and volunteered to come to our home with the news. He knew our family. His son had graduated just a few months before with our son Peter.
Officer Wiggins came in and told us our 20 year old, Andrew, had been in a car wreck. Our son was dead.
I sat in the corner of the couch. Numb. My son was dead.
Our three children living at home had heard the door and the noise in the living room, and one by one they came into to ask what was happening. One by one we told them. One by one they each got off the couch and went back to their room. Their brother was dead.
I sat on the couch numb. My son was dead
Ron called the other children to give them the news. One daughter on vacation with her family. Our former Marine in Denver. Our gymnastic coach son in Michigan. Their brother was dead.
While Ron called the kids, I got on Facebook to see if I could learn more. The local police knew very little. The Troopers were still processing the scene. All they knew was that our son was dead.
One young man had posted kind words on Andrew’s page. I sent him a message asking him to call me. He told me they had all been at the end-of-the-season cast party for Texas! the day before. (This had been Andrew’s second year to be in the outdoor musical. Andrew loved that show. He loved being a professional actor and dancer. He loved the cast and crew of the show.) On the way home from the cast party, about 11:45 pm, six young people had been riding back to Canyon, Texas, when the driver ran a stop sign and pulled out in front of a semi. Andrew was killed along with four of his friends, including the driver. They were pronounced dead at the scene by a justice of the peace at 12:30 am. One person survived and was in critical condition. The driver of the semi was in serious condition. I had one question: “Was Andrew driving?” He was not driving, but he was dead.
I called my step-mom. Her grandson was dead.
Ron called more family. Their nephew, cousin, etc. was dead.
Ron contacted our pastor. A member of his congregation was dead. A youth from his youth group was dead.
I posted on Facebook and sent out an email to tell people their friend was dead:
“Our sweet, funny and talented Andrew Raymond went to be with Christ this morning about 12:30.
He was riding in a car going back to Amarillo from the annual End of the Show Ranch BBQ with other cast members from “Texas”. He and four others were killed when the car they were in was struck by a semi. One person in the car is in surgery. We do not know any other details at this time.
Please pray for our family as we deal with this loss.
Pray for the families of the others involved, including the driver of the semi involved. I pray that somehow, God will be glorified in this.”
The next few moments were quiet and still. It would be a little while before anyone arrived at the house, before we could really do anything but wait.
Ron and I talked a bit. We had plans to make. Arrangements for our son’s funeral needed to be made. We talked quietly.
A few decisions were made:
1. We would not blame the driver. It could have as easily been Andrew. They took turns driving to events all summer. He could have been driving. Blame would not change things. It did not matter to us if alcohol was involved. That would not change the results.
2. We would make it through this. We WILL make it through this together.
3. The most important thing we discussed was this: OUR SON WAS NOT DEAD! Andrew was and is still alive!! He is alive in our memories, in our love, in our home, in the thousands of pictures we have of him, in the hundreds of hours of video of him. He is alive!
The reality is that Andrew is not dead. He is now living in the presence of Christ. He will be dancing and worshiping before the throne of his Savior for eternity! He is even more alive than he ever was on earth. And Andrew lived well! He lived life to the fullest here on earth. But now he is living eternally with Our Heavenly Father.
My life had changed forever that day. I have to deal with grief in a way I never dreamed. We had lots of things to take care of. Lots of details: legal stuff, funeral stuff, closing accounts, shutting off his phone, cleaning his apartment, finding his car! It took a long time to work through details and legal stuff.
But one thing in my life will never change: God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
On August 12, God was a loving, compassionate God. He cared for me. He loved me. He had begun a work in me and promised to carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. He sent His Son to die for me. He promised to never leave me or forsake me. He was the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Creator, Redeemer, Messiah and my Friend.
On August 13 those things were still true.
They still are true.
They will be true forever.
Even on remarkable days, some things don’t change.
The Accident happened on TX State Hwy 287 north of Amarillo on August 12 at 11:45. Five died instantly. Because of the remote location, a justice of the peace did not get to the scene until 45 minutes later. Five young people, all part of the show “TEXAS”, were pronounced dead at the scene at 12:30 am August 13, 2013. One young man survived. He is still recovering.
If you have experienced the death of a child, please consider While We’re Waiting, a faith-based ministry to bereaved parents. They have helped me heal.