I know a day only has 24 hours in it - half daytime and half night. But I'm positive this night lasted at least ten times that long. Once I heard the news, time seemed to stand still. For the rest of the night it was like I was watching a movie in slow motion. I guess the deputy finally realized I was still sitting there with my foot on the brake, because he told me to put the car in park and move to the passenger's seat so he could drive me home. The ride home was less than two miles, but it seemed to take forever. All the way I just kept thinking, this isn't happening, it isn't real, it's just a bad dream. When we finally pulled into my driveway the state patrol and a friend from the neighborhood were standing under the carport. I stopped and talked to them on the way inside, asking myself the whole time how I was going to tell Trey his father was dead.
I found Trey in his bedroom and broke the news (only that Eddie was gone, not that he had taken his own life). I think he knew before I even said it just from the look on my face. He had what I assume was a fairly normal reaction .. he yelled "no", punched his bedroom door, pulled off the t-shirt he was wearing and ripped it apart, then fell in the floor crying. I've never felt so helpless. For the first time in my life I had no idea what to do to help my child. I patted his back, tried to hug him, told him I was sorry and I loved him, then just stood there. I was at a loss for what to do next. I finally called his best friend, and thankfully he and his wife came immediately to be with him. Once they arrived, I left them in the bedroom with Trey and I went back into the living room.
By the time I came out of Trey's bedroom, several of the neighbors had arrived. There must have been ten people in my living room including the deputy and state patrol. Everyone started hugging me, telling me how sorry they were, and asking if there was anything they could do. I remember looking around at everyone thinking "what are you doing here in the middle of the night - you should all be home in bed - you have to go to work in the morning - I have to go to work in the morning." Someone asked if I wanted them to call anyone for me. I told them I would do it. I took the phone into the kitchen and called my mother. Standing at the kitchen sink I asked her to come to the house because Eddie was dead - he had killed himself. I don't remember being overly emotional when I talked to her or even crying when I said the words. Soon after that my mother, grandmother, and father arrived.
I knew everyone that was in my house, until a strange man walked in. I was sitting on the love seat as I watched him put Eddie's wallet, watch, and keys on the mantle. I was wondering who this man was and why he had Eddie's things. He introduced himself to me as the coroner, then sat down - in Eddie's recliner. He proceeded to tell me what he knew about the events of that evening. All I wanted to do was to tell him to get out of Eddie's chair because he would be home soon and would want to sit there, but he wouldn't stop talking long enough for me to say anything. He told me it appeared that Eddie was heading towards home when he hit a mailbox on the right side of the road which spun his truck around backwards. He then went off the side, up a small embankment, where the back of his truck hit a utility pole. His truck was damaged and it was possible that Eddie was injured, but not enough to prevent him from getting out of the truck. He said he knew this because the truck door was open and Eddie's keys were out of the ignition laying in the driver's seat.
They found Eddie lying outside the truck with his shotgun beside him. He said he knew Eddie had been drinking because there was the smell of alcohol and a beer can in the truck. They had taken blood for a blood alcohol test, but the results wouldn't be in for several days or even weeks. He asked if I wanted to be called about the results of the test. What a stupid question to ask at a time like that! How was I supposed to know then if I wanted to hear those results days or even weeks down the road? The only thing I wanted to know right then was if he could tell me what time Eddie died. He said they couldn't pinpoint the exact minute of his death, but that he could tell me when the 911 call came in from the people across the street who heard the wreck - 10:45.
I later learned from the man who placed the call that it was only a matter of minutes between the time he called and when he heard the gunshot. This man (I don't even know his name) started across the street immediately after placing the call to see if he could do anything to help until the emergency services arrived. Before he could get across the street he heard the gunshot. He said he went on over anyway, knelt beside Eddie, and because he didn't know if he was still alive or not, began to pray for him. I know all of this because my mother talked to the man and his wife several days later. One day, I'm going to find the courage to go see this man myself and thank him personally for what he did.
Eventually around 4:00 AM the police and neighbors began to go home. My mother, father, grandmother, and Trey's friend Mikel and his wife stayed. At some point I went back into Trey's bedroom to tell him the truth - that Eddie had committed suicide. That was even harder than telling him his father was dead. You're not supposed to lose a parent when you're just 24 years old, and especially not that way. I didn't know what to do with myself after that. The house was suddenly very quiet. I walked around, sat in the living room and stared at nothing, until I noticed the red spots on the carpet. If you live in Georgia you know what a mess wet, red, Georgia clay makes. I couldn't leave those spots there. I'm very particular about how things look, so I had to clean. After all, I didn't want Eddie to see the carpet like that when he came home. So at 5:00 AM my mother and I were on our hands and knees in the dining room and living room cleaning the carpet (in case you didn't know, Windex works as an excellent spot cleaner on carpet). By the time we finished, another day had started, and with it came all of the plans I would have to start making.
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26