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Jack Ryan Wilbur – RIP 1997 – 2018

Tomorrow, June 27, we leave to drive to Massachusetts to attend services for our grandson, Jack.   On June 22, 2018, around 8:30 pm, Jack was on his motorcycle traveling at a speed he should not have been going.  A car turned in front of him and in the process of trying to deal with that, he lost control of his bike and crashed. 

He was transported to a nearby hospital that decided he needed better facilities and was flown to Boston.  In Boston, doctors tried but was not able to save Jack. He died around 2:00 am Saturday morning.  

I  had just gone to bed and was checking Facebook to see what may be going on with my family. I use FB to do that. I may now stop that activity.  I read a post from my son, Chris that said he nephew had been in a motorcycle accident and that everyone should pray for him.  I was not happy to find out this kind of news on social media and was trying to sort out feelings and exactly who Chris was talking about.   At 10:47 pm, I was talking to Rita about what to do,  when I got a call from my other son, Adam, who was on the PCT somewhere in California.  Adam had seen the post and called Eric, Jack’s dad, and found out it was Jack that had the accident.  At that time, all I knew was that Jack was in the hospital in Boston.  We agreed to keep each other updated.  

At 10:57 pm, Eric called. He was crying and was barley able to tell me that Jack was in surgery and that they had already brought him back twice by restarting his heart and now they had to open up his chest to massage his heart to see if they could keep it going.  He said that the doctors were straight with him saying Jack may not make it. 

This is the kind of call you never want to get and makes you fearful of answering the phone after 10:00 pm.  

After I hung up with Eric, I again saw a FB notification that Jesse, my son in law, posted a comment on Chris’ post about his nephew having an accident. I check the comment and he asked was it Drew, Johanna’s son, another grandson.  I texted Jesse giving him the answer, not wanting to add to such a public display on FB.  I thought getting this type of news on FB is a horrible way to get informed of such an event.  Then I worried that maybe Johanna may see Chris’ post and Jesse’s comment and think it could be Drew. So at 11:24 pm, I called Johanna. She had already heard about Jack, her Mom had just talked to her. We talked some and cried some. We agreed to keep each other updated.

I laid in bed for some time and must have fallen to sleep for at 2:13, I was woken with my cell phone ringing. It was Eric.  Bubbling through tears and sobs, he told me that Jack didn’t make it.  I asked if I could help, maybe call some of the other family. He said that would be helpful, he was going to call his Mom and I was  to call Adam and Johanna. I hung up thinking why did I agree to be the bearing of such bad news, then realized it was the correct thing to do. Eric is going to have enough to deal with. This I could help with.

At 2:16 am, I called Adam, knowing he was on west coast time and probably hunkered down in his tent, hopefully in a cell phone coverage area. He answered immediately.  I gave him the bad news, and he asked me to edit the email he has just sent for the day’s post on his hike for he had written that Jack was still alive.  I agreed to do so and told him I had to call Johanna.

At 2:20 am, I called Johanna. I’m sure she knew what I was going to say, but I had to say it anyway.  We cried and agreed to talk again later in the day. I remember her one comment: “How do you deal with loosing a son?”  I didn’t have an answer for that.

I never got back to sleep.  What do you do when your son’s child kills himself speeding on a motorcycle?  I sat and thought, or tried to. My thoughts were as messed up as my emotions. I cried some. I told myself to get it together that I needed to help my family get through this.  Then I would find myself thinking of all the family I have lost. How my Dad had to deal with loosing my sister, Diane, to cancer at age 55 or my Mom before that. I remembered that Diane had to go through loosing a young son, Tony, also from a motorcycle accident. My feelings were all over the map. 

I will dearly miss Jack. In the past few years, I had just started to get to know him. The last time I saw him was at a dinner, where he and I talked of our Doge trucks and him coming to visit and help build a deer fence around Rita’s garden.  That was in early May when I took Delaney to MA to visit family. It was at the dinner where I picked up a $400 tab and regretted it. 

I don’t regret that now.  

I am heartbroken about loosing Jack. I can only imagine what Eric and Carol are feeling.  Loosing a child is not something parents think about.  We worry about them when they are out late, drive too fast, or go through other trauma, but  we generally don’t think that we have to deal with them dying – that we reserve for our parents and elders.

So, tomorrow, Rita and I will drive to Morgantown, WV to pick up Delany to drive to Massachusetts again to be with family, but visit will be more sober and sad.  Jack’s wake is Thursday from 4 – 7 pm. His funeral the next day at 9:30 am.   I don’t look forward to these days. I also am getting to hate the association of wearing a suite and funerals.

We plan on returning on Saturday. Johanna may ride down with us for we are planning a long hike next week and look forward to some alone time.

Life is short and precious. Some of us get to spend a longer time on that path to death than others.  You can’t go on living your life in fear of a loved one or family member dying, but when it happens, it does make you wonder if you are spending your time and treating people appropriately.   Death has a way of stopping you in your tracks and making you think.

We often seek answers when something horrible happens.  There are none.  Life does not come with answers in the back of the book or at the end of life. Life does not even come with questions, we add those.  Seeking answers, like checking our phones, is a waist of time. Life is around us, not a puzzle to solve, answers to seek, or problems to solve. It is to be experienced, there are bad and good ones. Take one and move on to the other.  Be grateful for those you have had, not sad that you can’t have them again.  

We will get by this passing of Jack. Many of us will not forget him, but the pain of loosing him will lessen each day. It is sad but it is not sad to have know Jack.