by Keli Strange
High School Graduation
December 30,2010 my husband and I had went to bed around 9pm. Shortly after falling asleep we were woke by the phone ringing. Why is it that when the phone wakes you from sleep you are automatically filled with an ominous feeling.
I heard the words accident and Sheldon and was out of bed and dressed before my husband Scott was off the phone. The only information we had was that there was an accident involving my stepson, another car and an 18 wheeler. Being a RN I instantly knew when the hospital wouldn't release any information but told us to get to the hospital as quick and safely as possible.
We live in a rural area 17 miles east of the hospital. My husband wouldn't let me call Sheldon's big brother telling me "we'll get there and see how bad things are first". As we turned and headed toward the expressway leading to the hospital we could see all the flashing emergency lights. Driving onto the on ramp we could see our son's pickup, hardly recognizable. Alcohol was not a part of this accident, speed and no seatbelt was.
About that time a friend who was at the hospital called and said they were going to helicopter Shel out to a larger hospital. At that time I called his big brother and asked him to call their mom and to go on to meet the copter at the other hospital. His dad and I headed on towards the small town hospital hoping to see our boy. Entering the ER there seemed to be so many people waiting outside waiting and watching us.
The receptionist stopped us telling us she needed paperwork signed. I signed 3 documents very quickly then begging to see our son. After what seemed an eternity we were ushered into a family conference room joining the ER. A nurse then told us the doctor was coming into talk. The look on his face told everything. He apologized telling us the extent of our son's injuries were too extensive.
Automatically I felt a rip in my heart and soul. One for the loss of a child who I had helped raise since the age of 3 1/2 and the agony my husband was trying so hard to keep intact. I begged to see Shel, just to touch him, see him......but we were told it had to wait.
My husband then had to call his oldest son and tell him his little brother was dead. Then then call to his mom, the woman who made the decision several years ago to let her sons live with their dad, myself and my 3 children. Over the years we had blended into a tight knit family.
The next several hours seem like I was on the outside looking in. The state troopers, medical examiner, numerous friends of our son, our own friends and family arriving at the ER. Finally the time came when his dad had to "officially" identify Sheldon and then they finally let his mom, brother and me into the cubicle where his body was. They told his mom and me that we could touch and kiss him, just not to touch any of the numerous tubes that had to remain in place since he would have to go for autopsy. The pain at hearing the words autopsy.......
Our sweet boy looked peaceful with the exception of a laceration to his forehead and that his abdomen was swollen. I stroked his cheeks and hands, he felt so very cold...... I knew that this was only a shell but it was they young man that I had watched grow from a little boy dragging his stuffed Scooby around. Leaving that hospital was so difficult.
The days that have followed have been a blur with so much outpouring of love and support. You think you always know your child's friends, but we were overwhelmed to see just how many there were. The services were standing room only. A cross was built by several of his friends, a very crude but all the same beautiful tribute.
Now the days of details and tasks. I look around and want to scream at the fact that life just seems to be going on as if nothing as changed. For us, his family nothing will ever be the same. We were so proud of Sheldon, a smile that never stopped, a willingness to help everyone, a kindness and loving person that every parent hope for. Each day is full of challenges and trials. Only the promise of being reunited with Sheldon and knowing that God is holding him close.........