Pictured below is my son, Brian and his father, Willie Neil. I lost them both in the same day, in different ways. On a random Wednesday, I was a mother to two children, a boy and a girl, with a husband and a house in the suburbs. The very next day, I had a daughter and precious little else. My son was four when I lost him. I actually rarely use that phrase, “lost”, because to me it seems like I misplaced him a store somewhere when in fact he drowned in the pool of a house we’d only lived in for six days. Most of our belongings were still packed from the move. My friends all encouraged me to “sue the owner”. And do what with the money, I always wondered, buy myself a new car so that I could look sharp, driving around, grieving for my son?? Silly. Money wouldn’t bring him back. Prayer sure didn’t. The EMTs sure couldn’t. I failed to protect him. It’s all on me.
Brian slipped running around the pool, as I called them for lunch, and hit his head. I was 22, unable to swim and had barely heard of CPR. My friend pulled him out. I ran for a neighbor who tried to revive him. My husband was devastated as well. I’m not sure if we spoke more than two sentences afterward and separated immediately on coming home from the funeral. I never returned to the house; he wasn’t ‘going to lose his down payment’. Instead he lost his wife and daughter as well as his son. In the end, he only lived another two months in the house and then let it be repossessed. By that time, I was two counties away and drowning in sorrow. I have only seen him one other time, six years later.
In my opinion, as I look back, we were simply too young to deal with something of this magnitude. No one should have to bury their children. No one.
My surviving relatives at the time sent flowers. No one I knew attended the funeral except my husband’s family and people from the church that opened their doors for the funeral service. The local fire department took up donations for the casket. A woman I barely knew and her lover bought Brian a white suit. I don’t remember very much from that time; it all seems like a blur of something that was happening to someone else. After all that had happened in my lifetime thus far, it was so hard to believe this was actually real.