It's been eight years since I received a phone call that would make me drop to my knees.
That was the day a kind doctor from Celebration Hospital in Kissimmee, Florida called me to tell me that my oldest son had died twenty minutes earlier.
He had died of a drug overdose.
He had called the rescue squad himself.
He had fought hard to live.
But, this time he didn't make it.
I had been with son Jordan and his family all day as they visited before Christmas. They lived three hours away, and decided to come up while the weather was good.
He had just left to go visit his dad, who was getting off work at the Post Office when the call came.
I hung up, cleared my head, and immediately called Jordan. When he answered, I told him to let me talk to his dad. Everyone immediately came back home, and a call was made to son Erik in Columbus, who flew up the road to our home.
These two boys turned into men that night as they helped their parents think straight. Friend Linda Clark recommended a place for cremation in Florida, as we learned just how much it would cost for transport of his body. Peter's friend Roger was nearly inconsolable as we tried to comfort each other. Andrea Nelson Clark came by with arms filled with Kleenex, which we went through quickly. She had lost a son, and knew what we needed.
And, I had back surgery the next day. When the surgery team and the doctor asked me if I was sure if I wanted to go ahead, I answered, "Yes! Please knock me out of my nightmare!"
Kerry and Jordan left the next day to retrieve Peter's belongings, all which fit into a suitcase and a large plastic tub. It was all he owned in the world.
It was the week of Christmas.
His memorial service was in January, when I would actually be able to attend. I have played the organ for nearly every funeral that has been in that building, but I have never seen one that caused the chapel to bulge at the seams like Peter's. Friends and teachers from school, Y Choir, and church continued to stream into the building until every seat was filled.
The dinner that followed filled one side of our cultural hall (nearly gymnasium size).
And then, we began our life without our oldest son.
We buried his cremains on his birthday in April. It was a small family affair. Kerry helped to dig the grave, placed it inside, and gently placed the soil on top of it as he said good-bye to his namesake.
It would be nearly three years before I could make myself go in to order his tombstone. We made several trips, but each time we arrived, I sighed and told Kerry I just couldn't do it yet.
But, we finally did, and ordered one that embraced his wonderful musical talent.
Our lives have gone on, but not without thinking of him each and every day. One day, I will be greeted by him, and the embrace will be even more everlasting than the ones he gave me while he was alive.
And so, as I write this through blurry eyes, I once again ask that you read the following article that explains why I do so much genealogy work...it's so that no life will be forgotten.
Peter had no wife or posterity. If not for us and the memories we record, the world may soon forget there was someone of his caliber who lived and walked on this earth. In his young life, he was stellar. But, the ravages of drugs turned him into someone I barely knew, and left a vacant stare.