Sophie, Molly and Jonny were all staying with us that weekend. next thing I saw was surreal......Jim, my policeman brother, Pastor Ken and a state trooper walking down our driveway. I shouted out to Jonathan, "Did you get into any trouble last night?" He shouted back from the basement, "No." By then they were at the door. Mike answered it as I procrastinated heading that way but fidgeting with some groceries I was putting away in the fridge. It was as if I could prevent hearing what I was about to hear by avoiding answering the door. But I slowly walked over. Jim looked at us and asked us if Jason lived on Sheridan Drive in Lexington to which I replied, "Yes." He then said that "Jason has been killed in a car wreck earlier that morning." Our jaws dropped and we were in a state of disbelief. Wait! What did he just say?! Jason had just been at our house earlier that morning on his way home from snowboarding at Snowshow as he headed back to U.K. He and two buddies, Justin and Peter, stopped in around 5:00a.m. to let us know that they were traveling on back to Lexington instead of staying with us and going to church later that morning. I didn't even get up when Mike told me that the guys were down in the kitchen. Vanity I guess. But I asked Mike to get a picture of them and then said, "never mind" because I knew Jason would kill me for requesting a photo shoot at 5a.m. Mike gave them McDonald's money, prayed with them and told them to be careful. Approximately two hours later, the driver fell asleep just past the Mt. Sterling rest stop. The jeep veered off I-64 westbound milemarker 109 and flipped over and eventually landed right side up in a ravine. The driver managed to crawl up the hill to the interstate where a passing motorist stopped to help. They called 911. Justin was airlifted to UK Medical Center in critical condition and Jason was pronounced dead at the scene.
Upon receiving the news, Mike and I broke down and cried and I remember Mike praying and asking God to be HUGE for us right then. I remember thinking the thought of how could someone so healthy and large be gone just like that?
The kids were all downstairs and weren't aware of what we had been told (but yesterday, 2/19/12, Molly told me that Sophie had called Grace and they were all actually pacing because they knew something wasn't right). Mike called them up to the kitchen and had them sit down and gave them the news, "Jason's dead." It was profoundly difficult to not only receive that news but then have to tell the kids those devastating words was almost beyond bearable. The kids listened. Then they cried. My brother, Jim, and Pastor Ken were still there but the state trooper had left. God had surrounded us with two people who knew and loved us to tell us what no parent or sibling ever wants to hear.
I immediately began to evaluate what had taken place on the last day I had seem him which was Friday, Feb. 17th, 2006. He and his friends stopped in to spend the night as they traveled to ski and snowboard at Snowshoe, WV. Jason bear-hugged me like never before when he came in the door and then we laughed because Calvin , the Jack Russell from next door, was wearing a cone because of an injury and he wouldn't stop jumping at the door. The thought that I should call the kids to come home popped into my head. I now know why I had the wherewithal to call Molly, Jonny, and Sophie, as they were all out with friends on a normal Friday night. The Holy Spirit had prompted me to! So when Jason showed up, I immediately called all three of them and said, "hey your brother is home. You need to come home so you can see him." And within like 15-30 minutes, they all showed up(a miracle in and of itself). We all hung out together in the TV room and talked. Mike bonded with Peter which would be an important detail two days from then. Jason had asked me if we were still thinking about medical missions somewhere. He told me that he would be interested in going with us sometime. And Mike laughed at the thought of Jason being a mechanical engineering missionary. After Mike and I had gone to bed, they all stayed up and played pool together. God had orchestrated a "goodbye" if you will.
Molly and Jason talked about the Brad Paisley/Dolly Parton song, "When I Get Where I'm Going," to the point that when it came time to pick a song for the funeral slide show, she knew exactly the one it would be. After a few minutes of trying to process the news, we each went into action mode as best we saw fit. The kids got out photo albums and began looking at pictures of Jason and talking about him. Mike had the task of calling Jason's mother, Mary, who was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, visiting her elderly mother. I listened to him speak to her on the phone. I knew giving that news to her would be horrible. Mike doesn't mince words so when I heard him say, "Jason's dead," I cringed. I guess I would have worded it differently maybe hoping to soften the blow a bit by saying, "Jason was in a car wreck and has passed away." But in the end, he was right. Jason WAS dead. Poor Mary. She was at lunch with her mother and she fell to the ground. Then she had to make arrangements to travel from Louisiana to Kentucky carrying the weight of losing Jason with her. It took her two days to get to our house. Lauren was next. She was a senior in college at Warren Wilson in Asheville, NC. He gave her the news and thankfully, Joel was with her and was able to drive her home immediately. My brother called my parents and sister. Dad was in Russell and mom was in Ormond Beach. After that, I don't remember how people found out. I don't think I called anyone. But within the hour, the youth group from our church was at our house which was also a good/God thing for all of us. Then people started bringing food. It's sort of a blur. But not really. Had we still been drinking alcohol (not since 2/3/04), we would have popped open the wine and begun to medicate. By God's grace, that didn't happen. He was enough. We felt the pain of it instead of becoming numb to it. We made arrangements to fly mom home the next day. We began to think about the funeral service. Just when you don't want to have to think, that is all you do when something like this happens. You make decisions. Times, dates, places, etc. And you have to write. Obits. Everything it seems is all about making decisions. Maybe God wants it that way to keep the family talking. After all we had been through with Jason......drugs, alcohol, arrests, rehab, salvation, walking in victory with Jesus Christ, this was how it was going down?! In the blink of an eye. But we had to trust God. So we did. Thankfully, we had some history with Him and we KNEW He was good, merciful, loving, compassionate, affectionate, and so much more. He was our loving Father. We knew Him. We trusted His decisions. A time to be born. A time to die. Not our will but His was done. So we committed to glorify Him through Jason's funeral.
When a young person dies, people in the community notice. It beckons them to question their own mortality. If I died today, what would happen to me? This is an important question and most of us avoid it like the plague. But God's Word says that it's better to go to funerals than parties(Ecc. 7:2 NLT). They force us to look at our lives and examine our eternal destiny. This is a GOOD thing.
Jason had made a decision for Christ four years prior to his death. And he lived those last four, for the glory of God. He was an awesome young man of God. And God used him. Bottom line: Jason loved God and people. The two priority commandments he followed. As you can see, it's not how you start but how you finish this life that matters. We are so proud of Jason's finish. I hope the testimonies by his friends will prompt us all to examine ourselves and just exactly what we are living for. Jason wasn't perfect. But His Savior was.
By the way, my brother never works the "beat" he worked the day he got the call to go and help a state trooper find an address to deliver a death notice. But God ordained it for THAT day so that HE could deliver the news to us by people who knew and loved us. When Jim found out who the death notice was for, he immediately called Pastor Ken. God is so loving, even when He gives us bad news.