Anyway, here is where

the story begins.


One weekend in February, I drove alone to our cabin

in southeastern Missouri.


There, it’s common to see roadside crosses adorned with all

the tribute and decoration put there by loved ones left behind.

But this time, I stopped to photograph one or two that,

I guess, for some reason, struck me as especially poignant. I

had never done that before; roadside crosses to me have always

been terribly sad, and somebody else’s personal statement,

not intended for me.


A few days later, again alone and back in town, I was eating

lunch at Blueberry Hill, a restaurant in St. Louis. I received

a text from my 21 year-old son, Alex. He was away at college.

The text was nothing but an attachment, with no accompanying

message, an application that provided a daily quote from

the Bible. It was called “Jesus Daily.” That wasn’t like Alex. Did

he send it for a laugh? As a joke? He could be pretty irreverent.

He could criticize organized religion. But he never criticized

God. Not to me anyway.


Then a few days later, that Friday, I was alone again, and

watching a news story from the winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Russian luge racer, was

thrown from the track and ki lled. There was videotape of

a reported meeting with Nodar’s grieving family back home.

The reporter mentioned that the athlete’s father, devastated,

had no intention of viewing the video of his son’s accident.

The video was already circulating over the web.


I actually wondered to myself, would I be able to watch a

video of the death of my son if such a terrible thing ever happened

to him? Would there not be some ki nd of due diligence

inherent in going through that? Some ki nd of completion of

my life with him — as opposed to leaving him alone in his final

minute? Being there in some way, being with him in some way,

by seeing it?


The next night, Saturday, I received the call about Alex’s accident.

He was killed away at school in Savannah, Georgia, in a

one-car collision, in the dark, wet, wee hours of the morning,

Valentine’s Day.

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