Clayton was on his way home from work Sunday Morning about 1 am and swerved to avoid a deer ,as far as we can figure out. Clay loved to drive fast anyway, but this was on a straightaway in the road and he didn't just lose control unless it was either to avoid an animal or because there was a mechanical malfunction.
He swerved, went off a 6 foot drop on the other side of the road, bounced across the driveway, and his front end caught on a barbed-wire fence which made the back end flip over and the car end-over-ended about 50 yards. Clay was catapulted out the back window another 150 feet further on into the field.
He was killed instantaneously, either in the car when it was flipping or when he hit the field.
I was awake on the computer when we got a knock on the door....at 2:30am...never good news.
My DIL Kathy was standing at the door with a pillow- I thought... their air-conditioning has messed up and they wanna stay the night...or the kitchen caught on fire or something.
I smiled and asked her to come in.....and then I noticed it wasn't Clay in the car following her, but her mom. My heart dropped. I asked where Clay was- what was wrong?
Kathy's mom answered that Clay had been in an auto accident that morning about 1AM. I said OMG- What -where is he- meaning what HOSPITAL he was in........and she replied crying that he didn't make it.
I went to the floor on my knees screaming NO_NO_NO....NOT MY BABY.....It's NOT TRUE- It's JUST A DREAM........and it went on for about 20 minutes.
Paul held me while I was screaming hysterically and sent Kathy and her mom to the living room to sit while he dealt with me.
Kathy was in shock and couldn't deal with telling anyone else- the announcement was going to be on the tv news at 6-in less than 2 hours, so I told her Paulius and I would notify everyone else- she could go home and rest because the next few days were going to be tough ones and she had to think about the baby and her health.
First we went and told my eldest son- then we all rode the hours drive to my daughters home to give her the news. They were expecting something about their grandmother- not even a clue it was about their baby brother.
The mortuary worked for an entire day to "fix" him so we might be able to have an open casket ceremony. He was horribly swollen on the left side of his face and neck- his skull was crushed and his right side was terribly bruised, make-up camouflaged it somewhat, but you could still see the damage pretty badly. It hardly looked like my baby boy.
Kathy was a trooper- she knew where all the policies were- how much she had to spend on a funeral, what music to play, what flowers she/he wanted....everything. My mom donated the actual plot nearest my daddy's so they could be together....Clayton was his namesake.
Okay, so the arrangements made, we had to wait two days to see him. It broke my heart.
we had to make them un-tuck his shirt and we re-arranged it so it looked like Clay...then we unbuttoned hid shirt a couple buttons.
When we were finally happy with the look about 50 people had shown up- mostly family who live in the area and happened by. So there was an unexpected mini-viewing.
After that we went home.
Next day was the planned viewing......literally HUNDREDS of people showed up for his visitation. The child/man touched so many lives. I don't think he had an enemy in the world.My friend Terry was there- and helped Paulius with me when I had the first of my panic attacks. I saw people who I hadn't seen for years.
There were two rooms FULL of flower arrangements sent.
Let me take a moment to thank everyone who sent either an arrangement or a card.They were all lovely and I know he would have loved then too.
Now before I go on- I want to tell you about another thing that happened....I couldn't sleep, so I got up about 4am the day of the viewing and went to the bedroom straightening up. Well, I found a Mothers day card from Clayton and Kathy and I read it and sat on the bed and cried and cried.When I went to put the card back in the envelope, I was crying about why couldn't' I find my engagement ring and the first piece of jewelry the boys had pooled their money and bought be....a gold charm that say I love you Mom. I had looked for the past two years for that jewelry, and Paul did as well.
Well, the bottom dresser was open about an inch, so I went to push it shut, and heard a clink.That dresser has been empty for over a year.
So I opened it up and there in the top of a cookie tin, was the ring AND the charm.
So of course I was over-joyed.
So after finishing cleaning the bedroom I turned on the computer. I looked thru the recent documents and was just so overwhelmed that Paulius had left me two of the sweetest poems to easy my grief.
Could I have only stayed;
We would be going on in life,
With all the plans we made.
Now all the hopes and dreams we shared,
Are but sweet memories;
For you to tuck inside your heart,
Now when you remember me.
Remember all the good times,
Remember how you touched my life,
And how I really cared.
Think back on all the laughter,
And wipe away your tears;
You still have many miles to go,
And still have many years.
Don't look back....look forward,
And as you travel on in life,
You'll take a bit of my heart.
I never meant to leave you,
But still you'll not be alone;
For as long as my love lives in you,
I'll never really be gone.
The other was this one...
He Only Took My Hand
Last night while I was trying to sleep,
My son's voice I did hear
I opened my eyes and looked around,
But he did not appear.
He said:"Mom you've got to listen,
You've got to understand
God didn't take me from you, mom
He only took my hand.
When I called out in pain that night,
The instant that I died,
He reached down and took my hand,
And pulled me to His side.
He pulled me up and saved me
From the misery and pain.
My body was hurt so badly inside,
I could never be the same.
My search is really over now,
I've found happiness within,
All the answers to my empty dreams
And all that might have been.
I love you all and miss you so,
And I'll always be nearby.
My body's gone forever,
But my spirit will never die!
And so, you must all go on now,
Live one day at a time.
God did not take me from you,
He only took my hand.
Paulius didn't put them on our computer.
I think my baby boy was trying to send me and his grieving family a message.
Now for the Funeral today.My cousin Stacy did it and did a WONDERFUL job of it. I thank her from the bottom of my heart. It shows the depth of love my family has for one of them to do that. I will be eternally grateful.
The family car picked us up and all the way up we were talking about some of the stuff Clay used to pull on everyone.
When we got to the Mortuary, we were in a calm mood. Kathy went in first and has a few moments with him alone. Then me and his side of the family got to go in. I went first. I pulled back the veil they had draped over the casket and rubbed his head. His hair had been buzzed the morning he left for work so it was about the same length as when he was born. I rubbed his hair/head and leaned in to talk with him for a while. I told him I know he didn't leave us by choice, and I thanked him for the poems and for the missing jewelry. I told him I love him with all my heart and I would gladly give my life a thousand times over for one last hug and kiss and to hear his sweet voice call me sweetie one last time, or if he could just be back with his family again.
So then I pulled back the veil and kissed his forehead and as I was rubbing his head, I sang Amazing Grace to him like I used to do when he was a baby and he was taking his nap. It was the only way he would go to sleep and sleep peacefully.. I then kissed his head and forehead about a dozen more times, told Him I would always love him and he would always be in my heart and thoughts, and told him sweet dreams before kissing his head and cheek one final time.
God knows It was the hardest thing I had ever had to do to walk away from him knowing I would never see his sweet face again for the rest of my life.
I don't think I could have dealt with it had I not taken a double dose of the sedatives before arriving there.
The casket went to to chapel, we followed. Kathy, her mom, Me, My daughter Julie, and my sister were front row.
Julie kept looking back at her bio-dad and I knew she wanted him up there with her. So I asked my sis to get him to come sit beside Julie. I wanted to be with my husband anyway. I told Julies Fiance to come up and be with Julie and I completely broke Southern Funeral Protocol by leaving the family pew and squeezing in between my oldest son and my husband in the Pall-bearers pew. You should have heard the gasps or surprise.
I didn't care. I needed my husband and my son needed me as well.
Anyway, There was a sermon, a couple prayers, and the songs in between were: Amazing Grace-sang by a friend of the family who has the voice of an angel. Then came, Jesus Take the Wheel, and then a song I didn't recognize but was one of Clays faves. Then there was a memorial where anyone who wanted could come up and say a few words about Clayton. I was so proud of my family.
First ,Clays mom in law came up and said a few words. Then My eldest son Frank did. Then Paulius did. Then my Daughter. Then my sister came up and read the "He Only Took My Hand" poem in my stead.
There was another prayer and then as they took his casket down the aisle, They played my requested song- In The Arms of The Angels by Sara McLaughlin.
We filed out and were driven to the cemetery. After a short service we were told it was time to return to the family car. And Kathy refused to go.
She was adamant to stay until he was actually buried in case he was still alive.
We ALL lost it then and we had to talk a half hour to convince her it would NOT be a healthy thing to do. We reminded her that she had to think about the baby and we promised as soon as the burial was finished she could come back- and the boys all stayed there to make sure he was buried properly and that he wasn't still alive. My son Frank actually made them open the casket one last time to make sure all the mementos were still in there with him and that he could honestly tell Kathy they checked Clay and he was really, truly, gone.
After that we left and went to the accident site and my two cousins sang Go Rest High On the Mountain and we had a prayer there before going back to Kathy's Moms home for lunch.
After an hour Paulius and I went back and I sat and cried for about 20 minutes and talked to Clay one last time. I got a trio of rose-buds from our flower arrangement and the baby-blue bow. I told him if the baby was a boy, I would use the bow as the "It's A Boy" bow for the mailbox.
I told Him if he wanted or needed to talk to me to come to me in my dreams- we can be together as often as we want there.
And then we came home and I took a couple more sedatives and decided while waiting for them to take effect I would write all this down so I don't forget anything important after I sleep.
As for the mementos left were a Memorial shirt with Clay's and Cody's(his dog)photo on the front. A huge amount of letters to him, pictures of his car, the sonogram of Clay and Kathy's unborn baby, a Pack of Newport Ciggies, a lighter and single ciggie in his hand, a RNR tee shirt, and a free pass to Platinum Plus- the local high dollar strip joint.
My daughter laughed about that one and said"Bubba I hate to tell you but there is no Platinum Plus is Heaven" and I told her "Well, Maybe not in YOUR heaven"...I highly suspect that Heaven to Clayton, had Kathy, Their Baby, a whole car-lot covering acres and acres of pimped up cars that were his and he could drive anytime he wanted(and Paulius gave him a blank key so any car in heaven could be started with it), and a Plat-Plus that was open 24 hours a day.
I'm exhausted guys...I think I will go sleep now for a couple days...........Maybe I will see my baby there and be able to give him that one hug and hear him call me "Sweetie" again.
Again, thank you all for all the thoughts and love sent our way this week. You have no idea how much it has meant to us.