The door slammed, echoing down the long hall. Certainly isn't the first time, and I bet you a plugged nickel, it sure won't be the last.
I find it hard to recall the exact time when all this brouhaha started.
What is clear in my mind is that it was at the intersection between our being able to talk or just begin simply to fall into a screaming match that collided, when the phone rang that day.
With a vivid landscape of memories, I can see her holding the old landline to her ear, just as I looked into her eyes,
I saw the pain searing like hot coals sizzling a raw steak on a hot grill grow across her face.
She crumpled, like a throw-away paper towel, right onto the floor as the telephone careened off the table to the carpet and land by her side.
Rushing over, I picked up the handset and put it to my ear and heard the voice on the other end repeat, "Hello, did you understand, your son has been in a car accident,
he is alive and en route to Saint Luke's, in Spokane. How soon can you get there"?
John Jon had left for college to play football. He and his teammates began two-a-days at WSU in Pullman, WA two-weeks ago. The hospital told us that he had been taken by air ambulance to St.
Lukes from the scene of a two-car collision on the interstate just outside of Ritzville.
A police officer said upon our arrival, "The car John Jon was in traveled over the center line and collided with an oncoming vehicle.
Two people were dead, at the scene, John Jon, was a passenger.
We found John Jon in ICU with head and neck trauma. The triage nurse told us please come with me.
He told us the surgeon would be in to see and asked us to wait in a private room just off the ICU unit.
By this time, we had been up for nearly 18 hours.
Getting the phone call in Bellevue, WA, at 7:45 PM, we threw a couple of changes of clothes into an overnight bag and hit 1-90 headed to Spokane, a typical five to six-hour drive.
I had decided to drive because I was concerned about not being able to have a phone call come in if we tried to fly over.
It was very fortuitous that we did drive because the hospital and surgeon needed to get our permission to proceed with the emergency surgery due to the head trauma and swelling on the brain
that needed to be surgically released.
We waited, what seemed like an eternity, for the doctor to arrive. When he did, this neurosurgeon was accompanied by an orthopedic surgeon.
They began to paint a pretty stark picture of John Jon's condition and informed us that the next 24 hours were going to be pivotal. So far, it was too early to tell how he will respond.
I looked over at my wife and could see her face ashen white, her eye sockets were beet red, and her overall appearance looked like a limp rag.
I tried to hold her, but she simply struggled away and pounded her fist into the palms of her hands.
Then she let it rip! I told you, "John Jon should not have gone across the state for college!" But no, you had to have your way.
You said over and over, "It will be good for him to get some distance from home. He'll grow-up faster, and he will become his own man living on campus sooner.
We don't need him coming every weekend to have you do his laundry."
"Tom, he had two full-ride scholarship offers, Seattle U and WSU she screamed. Then said, He could have been home, not in some stupid car on a freeway six hours away.
It's your fault! It's your fault!"
I walked away, feeling the world around me spinning out of control. Lost, trying to find the words to provide comfort and encouragement to my wife.
As I walked past the ICU doors, I heard that awful, code blue, ICU stat, code blue, ICU stat.
One hour later, the doctor came out of ICU, words didn't need to be uttered, the slump of his shoulders, the hanging down of his head,
and the short shuffling feet told us what we never wanted to hear.
The graveside service was somber, his high school, and college football teammates decked out in all manner of dress. There to pay the last tribute to John Jon.
Both his high school and college football head coaches gave terrific testimony to the character of a man that JJ brought to the team and that he would be long-missed.
So much happened so quickly. How am I ever going to find the words to ease her pain? Then, wondering, with the doors slamming shut ...
is the door on our marriage shut?
Feeling hopeless, one moment, your whole world vibrates and spins with such negative forces that no one hears even the echo down the hall from a door slamming shut.