Brad and Mom in Tennessee...2000
4 YEARS LATER
Written by Brad's Mom
Honestly, after Brad's accident, I didn't think I would make it this far. Now, it's 4 years later and I'm still here. I'm definitely not the same person I was before Brad's accident. I know that I have my very "sad" moments and I don't laugh as much as I used to (which is completely out-of-character for me). But, I've come to accept that my life has changed (even though I don't think I will ever accept that Brad is gone), so I get up in the mornings and trudge through each day.
I miss Brad so much and I've tried to bring justice to what was taken from his family and friends. I don't feel that I have had much success, just a great deal of frustration. As far as the Ohio High School Athletic Association is concerned, they just don't "get it." They don't understand that their ignorance and lack of compassion could cost another child his/her life. They don't understand that if they would have had fingerprinting and background checks in place, Brad would probably be alive today. I have begged, written letters and had a signed petition presented to the OHSAA, but they said Brad's accident was an "isolated incident." They have had no desire to help me out on my quest for quality referees by requesting fingerprinting and background checks.
I have also pleaded with the Ohio State Highway Patrol to be more alert with their investigations. Shortly after Brad's accident, it came across the police radio that the man involved in Brad's accident had a suspended license (due to past DUI's). They were also aware that the man involved in Brad's accident kicked Brad's car and shook Brad while yelling obscenities at him. But, instead of thinking this was strange behavior knowing the man's past driving record (along with other signs), they decided to do the blood alcohol on the other driver almost 4 hours after the accident (to be admissible in court, the blood alcohol must be done within 2 hours).
Now that it is 4 years later, I feel that justice has slipped through my fingers and I will never be able to make things safer for someone else. At least Brad knows how diligently I tried. Tiffany (Brad's Sister) said to me awhile back, "You've always fought for Brad and I and even though Brad isn't here...you are still fighting." I guess, that's just the "Mom" in me...always wanting to protect my children.
Through the "Grieving Parents" website, I have made some life-long friends, who have helped me on those very "difficult" days. Actually, we help each other. We love to share stories of our children in Heaven and will remember them on birthdays and "Heaven" anniversary dates.
I often wonder what Brad would be doing right now with his life. Would he be in college? Would he be married? Would he have children? Would he be happy? Brad would often talk about how he wanted to be a "Dad." He would ask me, "Do you think I'll be a good Dad?" I would say, "Brad, I think you'll be a wonderful Dad. You know how to love and that is the most important thing a parent can do." I get upset when I think I'll never be a Grandma to his children and I miss seeing what he would have been like with his niece and nephew. So many things that are taken for granted by people who still have their children on Earth.
My husband, Joe has been a wonderful source of strength for me. He also is great at comforting me when I hurt so much from missing Brad. Often times, while on a business trip, Joe will bring me back a "Brad" Christmas ornament or a "Brad" key chain. Anything that he knows will have meaning. I think that is so special because I'm sure there are many husbands who wouldn't be as thoughtful. Joe encourages me to buy things that remind me of Brad. Joe even bought me a camera phone not too long ago. One day, I was having a bad day and as I walked out of Wal-Mart, there was the most beautiful rainbow, I had ever seen. I told Joe about it and said, "Brad knew I was feeling badly and sent me a sign. I wish I had a camera phone, so I could have taken a picture of it." Well, shortly after I got my camera phone, we saw a DOUBLE rainbow and I immediately took a picture (this is now my screen saver on my phone).
I love to collect angels, things having to do with basketball, items that have "Son" on them, Brad's name and more. The other day, I was shopping with a friend and I saw a basketball gumball machine. I told her, "I think I will get this for Brad." She laughed and said, "Nancy, Brad is 21 years-old, now. Do you really think he'll want a gumball machine?" I just laughed and a few days later, ended up buying Brad a basketball bank.
Brad's Sister, Tiffany has also gotten me through some of my "rough" days. We talk of Brad often and laugh at some of the silly things Brad would say and do. We both wish so much that Cody and Bralynn could have known their wonderful Uncle Brad. Tiffany and I do talk to the kids about their Uncle. Cody (who is 4 years-old) likes to send balloons to Uncle Brad. Cody also made Brad a birthday present for his 21st birthday, which is now hanging in Brad's garden.
I think Brad would be proud of his Big Sister. I'm sure that he would think she was a great Mother and he would think her graduating from college was awesome. I always loved watching the two of them together. They would tease each other and when they were done, they would start teasing me and if I didn't go along with whatever they wanted, they would threaten to put me into "Shady Pines Nursing Home" when I got older (or throw my beloved Neil Diamond tape out the car window). Brad and Tiffany were always very protective of each other. Brad wanted to make sure that Tiffany's boyfriends were OK and Tiffany wanted to make sure the girls Brad liked, were worthy of her Little Brother's attentions. I sure loved being their Mother and I hate that I can only be a Mother to one of my children here on Earth. For me, it is a constant tug-of--war. I feel that I should be in Heaven taking care of Brad, but I need to be here on Earth to be with Tiffany and her children. A child is never supposed to die before a parent.
I am able to count my blessings, though. I am grateful that I had Brad in my life for 17 years and that he brought so much joy to everyone who knew him. I am grateful for my two wonderful grandchildren. They can make me smile just thinking of the funny things they do. I am grateful for the best daughter anyone could have because of the love she shows me. AND, I am grateful for my husband, who knows how to love me unconditionally.
I hope that anyone who is reading this has never lost a child. I encourage all of you who have children, to give them a big hug and remember, "I love you" is just three little words. Say these words to your children often. I'm glad that I did.