Thursday, January 10, 2008


Deborah, J.D., McKayla, and Casey
Visiting Grannie in East Texas,
on their way to Missouri,
March 1996

Today we attend the funeral for J.D., my 18 year old nephew. He was killed in an accident while on his bicycle, hit by a vehicle on a busy main street.

I'd like to share a little about him with you.

My memories of J.D. go back to when he was just under 3 years old. J.D. was adorable. He had very blond hair and blue eyes and I chuckle to myself now remembering the funny faces he made that made us laugh. He was a husky little guy, as energetic and physical as most boys are, but inside that energy was a very sensitive heart, one that sometimes got hurt. Today my daughter and I laughed through our tears when we saw a picture of him at that age, bottom lip out, arms folded on his chest, and big tears rolling down his cheeks. Whatever made him cry in that picture, we hoped was mended with a hug soon after.

J.D. loved boy things, especially enjoying them with his dad and step-dad, but even Moms could be pretty good company in a pinch. He loved cars, video games, playing football, watching football, Nascar races (Dale Earnhart Jr. #8 best of all), pretty much all sports, jamming out to hard rock music, and science fiction movies and books, Lord of the Rings being one of his absolute favorites. J.D. never wanted for something fun to do, to watch, to play, or to read. I don't recall ever hearing him say, "I'm bored."

J.D. loved his little sister at his Mom's and his little brother at his Dad's, even through his, ahem, "gentle" reminders of "Stay out of my room!" Those two younger ones, the ones that called him big brother, will miss him in ways that I can't imagine. J.D. was their protector, their guide, their playmate, their comrade in goofiness.

J.D. had a progressive hearing disease. He would eventually lose his hearing, but for now hearing aids mostly worked. I never knew him to get irritated if he couldn't understand us the first time around. He dealt with it as an inconvenience, nothing more. It never stopped him from doing a single thing that I was aware of.

J.D. loved family get-togethers. Life for J.D. just couldn't have too many backyard barbecues with food, family, and friends. Oh, and how he loved onions! If you wanted to make him happy -- and who wouldn't? -- make a homemade hamburger, and serve with plenty of thickly sliced raw onions. I'm not saying necessarily it made us happy, but we would be rewarded with the signature J.D. full face smile, one best viewed -- for a while -- from a distance.

As he grew up that tender heart didn't disappear. Even up through his teen years he still gave one of the best hugs you'll ever receive. The thing that made them remarkable to me was their sincerity, even when given to a middle-aged aunt, who must be the most boring human species to infringe upon the life of a boy. Frankly, I wish I could share just one more of those, right now.

After he graduated high school last summer, he almost faltered. "Free, free at last!" would describe a common post-graduate attitude. But free to do what was an awaiting pitfall.

By some beautifully timed coincidences, J.D. attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with a friend. This particular group has a sub-group called The Messengers, a motorcycle once-hard-living group who now put family first, and host drug-and-alcohol-free activities regularly. They welcomed young J.D. with open arms and have made him an honorary Messenger. I know that had J.D. lived this group of loving individuals would have continued to be an important, guiding part of his life. Through them, we get a glimpse of the kind of man he was becoming.

We inter J.D. today with a heavy heart, full of missing and full of love. We were blessed to have known him, to have loved him, and to have been loved by him. I've enjoyed remembering him with you and appreciate this chance to do so here. If you'd like to remember J.D. today too, hug someone. A sincere, hold-nothing back, hug.


nelda said...

Debi, beautiful prose describing your nephew. I know you wrote that with a heavy heart. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family today. Hold on to those precious memories, and be comforted knowing that J.D. knew he was loved by so many while on this earth. Love you lots.

Linda said...

Debs, I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Email me and let me know when you can chat. Big hugs to you and your mom. Love you and miss you lots.

Bev said...

Thinking about you at this time. Glad to know he enjoyed such a life with your family and may the happy memories comfort you. A lovely tribute to your nephew Debi.

Sarmad said...

Such a sad ending to a young soul, so sorry to hear about your loss Debs. As someone who has also suffered loss recently I feel your sentiments, I feel your hurting grieving. It hits hard and it frustrates. Time lessens the pain but never eliminates it, you learn to live with it. Remember the good times always and smile. May God rest his soul.

John (Copyright JMM 2007-2008) said...

My condolences to you and your family. I am at a loss of what to say - your words do provide a warm hug to all your loved ones, an embrace that can travel the length of a saddened universe. I am so sorry.

Rima said...

Our condolences to all of you. There is no worse sadness in this life than the loss of a child. You have touchingly described to us a nephew who was loved and loving, a young man who will always be remembered by those who knew and loved him.
Very sorry for your loss.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

I am sending YOU that sincere hold-nothing-back hug through cyber space today Debi. I hope that your photographs provide you with comfort and your times spent in the Texas breeze help to blow the sadness away. I hope the sunsets embrace you and give you stregnth and that the soap berrie's and leaves bring a hold nothing back joy to your heart that heals you.

I do love this photo by the way, he looks cheeky and fun loving. A real Texas cowboy.

Thinking of you.
Lisa :)

Anonymous said...

JD, you are cherished. And so are you, Debi. Beautiful that your page today is full of remembrance and love for this sweet boy you had the joy to see grow up to 18. How do you comfort a friend, an aunt, a father or mother who's lost a child? Except to believe that love itself never dies.

My love and hold-nothing-back embrace for you and Casey, JD's mom and all his family.

Fawzan Barrage said...

Debi and Bobbie,

My prayers are with you and the Family. May god take him in his care and may the family find comfort in the love that you can share. I am so sorry for your loss

Sweet Irene said...

My condolences to you and your family. It is hard to lose someone that young and so full of life. I wish you and his parents and the rest of the family a lot of strength in dealing with this.

Kris Cahill said...

What a beautiful way you have of expressing your love for JD. What a great loss for all who knew him. He sounds like he was a lovely energy. My condolences to you and your family.

Frances said...

What a terrible loss for his parents and all those who knew and loved him, cut off in his prime.
Wishing you all strength and love.

D.C. Confidential said...

Debi: What a beautiful tribute to your nephew. Our deepest condolences. Please know you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

dianeclancy said...

Dear Debbie and Bobbie,

I am so sorry to hear about your loss! Thank you for such a moving story of his life. ... I am here crying too.

He sounds like a wonderful young man and I know you are also celebrating him ... with heavy hearts.

You are all in my hearts and prayers!!

~ Diane Clancy

Neda said...

Dearest Debi, Bobbie, and family,

I just found out! My heart goes out to y'all. I wish I were with you at thisvery difficult time. May JD's memory always be honored, and his beautiful spirit resplendent in your hearts. With sincerest condoleances,

Andi said...

Dear Debi, Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your nephew. At such a sad time, you've chosen to focus on the happiness and love your nephew had in his life and brought to others. Please know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.