Thursday, June 24, 2010

I miss him so much...

The sketch above was done by our son Alex and given to two visiting close friends of Marcus.  Joanna and Jenny are friends of Marcus from Tabor College.  They have been like surrogate kids for us since the accident.  During their last visit they stayed for five days and it just happened to be the same weekend Alex was going to an Anime convention here in Dallas.  Alex left this sketch on the kitchen table and surprised the girls with it.  I am not sure how they decided but Jenny got to keep the original.

The note says:

Jenny & Jo!
I might not say it a lot but, I miss him so much.
I'm sorry I didn't stay to say bye, sooo...
Love y'all, Alex
P.S. I did this with chalk, so you might want to
be a little careful with it. =P

The picture below may have been the image he sketched.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Loss for Our Youngest

Our youngest son was born when his Koya was eight years old.  Koya means older brother in Kapampangan, the Filipino language (dialect) I was born to.  We made sure that as soon as Alex can speak he did not call Marcus by his first name.  We wanted to instill in both Alex and Marcus that in families there is a certain heirarchy.  The elders deserve to be called with titles of respect.  In turn the elder ones have a responsibility of always being protectors of the young.  As the boys grew older, Koya became Big Bro, to just Bro.  I think the term changed because they got tired of explaining what Koya meant.  Some people may think that the eight year gap made it a difficult adjustment for all involved.  It actually was not.  Patricia explained it so well to Marcus (although I think he did not fully understand it until much later) that Alex's needs are physical and his needs are more emotional or intellectual.  So even though Mom and Dad may seem immensely involved with the little guy, it is not because we prefer him towards Marcus, it is just the little guy cannot do it for himself.

I would like to say that Alex and Marcus got along flawlessly all of the time, but I would not be telling the truth.  They did not always get along as much as we would have wanted.  Just like normal siblings they had their share of squabbles and spats.  Alex tested Marcus' authority all the time and Marcus took advantage of it sometimes.  When Alex was a toddler he would always try to raid Koya's room of anything.  Marcus' toys were always so coveted by Alex.  Us being the lazy parents not wanting to referee all the time, we told Marcus that if Alex got into his room, because he left the door open, Alex keeps whatever he stole from Koya's room.  Even this simple room never went smoothly.  Imagine a house so quiet and peaceful, interrupted by Marcus yelling, "ALEX PUT THAT BACK!"  Followed by a shriek by a toddler as if his toenails were being plucked by a pair of pliers.  This happen so often for a while that Alex's first reaction to Marcus was a shriek.  This did not change until Patricia finally convinced Marcus that he, the nine year old, can outsmart a toddler anyday.  There was never a need to grab things from the little guy, just distract him or trade him with a thing you do not even want.  Did this work all the time?  Not really, although it did buy us some peaceful hours.  No matter what issues the two boys at home, when it came to dealing with the outside world Marcus relished the protector role.  One summer while the boys were hanging out at the community pool among their peer groups.  Apparently a couple of older boys not knowing Alex was Marcus' younger brother started picking on Alex.  Marcus saw what happened and took care of the bullies.  This was just one example of Marcus being a Koya to Alex.  This made such an impact on Alex that he felt compelled to share this at his Koya's memorial. 

One of the first things Marcus did whenever he came home from school was to kidnap (as their Mom would say) his younger brother and they would catch up on things. They would either go to a movie, go for coffee at Starbucks or go grab a bite to eat. They had favorite places they always hit, Fuddruckers, Boston Market, Genghis Grill or Central Market.  These bro-to-bro get-togethers would either go so smoothly that they will be attached at the hip the whole visit or converesely where the two brothers will be almost avoiding each other the whole visit home.  I was never privy to their conversations but I do know that one of the last ones involved Alex moving in with Marcus once he had his own place.  I can alomost picture that conversation where lil' bro complains to big bro how their parental units are just insufferable.  Of course Marcus wanting to make it easy for his Lil' Bro offered to have him move in with him.

So now our youngest lost his protector, future guardian and BS partner because of the accident.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day 2010

This is the second Father's Day since our son Marcus passed.  Nothing much has changed from Father's Day 2009 to today.  Somehow people make it an effort to greet me Happy Father's since my son's passing.  I think people reach out more, because they know I will be dwelling on the fact, that I have one less son to father to.  But no matter the reason, I still appreciate the gesture and the greetings.

Every Father's Day ever since my wife and I got married Marcus has always had a gift for me on my birthday or on Father's Day.  The past ten years or so it has been a golf shirt of some sort.  Even though I still acted surprise when he gave me the shirt, I knew his Mydia (Grandmother on my wife's side) bought the shirts for him to give to me.  I think some years or in the early years, he actually picked them out, but the later years Mydia has keyed on the styles I like and bought the shirts through-out the year while shopping at Sam's Club.  All of my suspicions were confirmed when Mydia gave me the rest of the shirts she had stockpiled to me last month.  Four brandnew shirts that were destined to be doled out through the years.  No need to dole them out for every generic occasion now.  Oh yeah by the way, I got the same shirts for my birthdays and Christmases.  I did not mind getting the shirts.  In fact I love these shirts.  Today I did not get new golf shirts.  I suspect that golf shirts are no longer going to be under the Christmas tree for me in December either.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So Many Lives Affected!

I think it is fair to say that most parents have had nightmares of their children having accidents the moment they start driving. 

When Marcus started driving cell phones were around but not with the capabilities they have today.  I believe Marcus was 17 when he was given his first cell phone. It was a Nokia model that was heavy as a brick!  Back then it was definitely a tool.  The minute per minute costs were prohibitive enough that people had cell phones just in case there was an emergency. 

Now things are way different!  People have their electronic leashes every place they go.  Not only do we as parents have to talk to our kids about Drunk Driving, we also have to talk about Road Rage, Car Jacking and Distracted Driving. 

But never in a million years did we really think that our we would lose one of our sons to Texting while driving.  We have spoken about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving to Marcus before, but he was a young adult and it was up to him to make his own decisions. 

And on February 22, 2009 around 5:14 P.M. our son made a fatal decision that we, his family, would be dealing with for the rest of our lives.

These are just quick facts regarding Distracted Driving pulled directly from .


There are three main types of Distraction.
  1. Visual - taking your eyes off the road
  2. Manual - taking your hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive - taking your mind off what you are doing
Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.

While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, TEXTING is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.

Other distracting activities include:

  • Using a cell phone  
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.

Did You Know?

Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts:

Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Source: Carnegie Mellon)

Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured. (NHTSA)

The younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Five Pictures do not equal a Life.

Imagine this. It is January 2009 you are in Munich, Germany with a touring group from your college. You are enjoying a pint of beer at the world famous Haufbrauhaus. A great friend snaps this picture. You are so carefree and so young. You couldn't wait to tell your Dad in Texas that you had real German beer and "it wasn't bad." Not being a drinker, this somehow was proud moment for you.  So proud you even bought a couple of mugs, a stein, a pint and a tee-shirt to commemorate this beergarten visit. A few more pics, one of you in front of all the vanquished pints and mugs in front of you, while you smile victoriously. One of you chugging down a giant mug of beer. Yet another picture of you and a friend hamming it up for the camera, acting as if you were so drunk. You are sporting a signature piece of clothing, the requisite white hat. You are gazing straight into the camera so confident. So confident that you will have a future filled with similar experiences. I have no doubt your thoughts involved plans for another visit before you leave Munich. I am almost as confident, as you are in this picture, in my certainty that at this moment in your life you had no idea you will be leaving this world in just a little bit over a month. That you will only have a handful of days shared with your family. All you know is that in four months or so you will be graduating. All you know is that you are nervously facing your future.

How about this one. You are still on the same Euro trip. This time you are in France. One of your dream destinations. It is very late. It is cold and damp. You hate the cold, but you did not care. You want to have a sweet shot of you by the Eiffel Tower. You will visit the tower tomorrow, but you wanted the the tower lit with all of its glory. You hand a friend your camera and after a couple of shots you are satisfied with a few. You couldn't wait to share this with your younger brother, whom you know is fascinated with the French. You had no idea that your brother along with your Mom and Dad will be retrieving the same camera from your mangled car in a depressing tow yard in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. Tonkawa is thousands and thousands of miles away from Paris, France. The two very different cities might as well be in different planets as far as you're concerned. Paris is a dream come true. Tonkawa is a sleepy town you pass every time you drive to or from school in Kansas. You may not have even noticed exit 214. This is the closest exit on north bound I-35 where your car will finally rest upside down in a roadside ditch, where your lifeless body is extricated. Your would be rescuers thought of you as just asleep. There were no signs of trauma. No visible injuries. The lady to first reach you is now a friend to your Mom and Dad. Barbara has placed multiple road side memorials at this very spot.  She was your angel that day and remains to be one to this very day.  All she wanted to do is help you.  She even volunteered to climb in your upside down car to help you, since she was smaller than the first Oklahoma State Trooper at the scene.  Paris is not Tonkawa. Paris is when you were living your dreams. Tonkawa is the embodiment of your Mother's nightmares.

Let's try this one. You're back in Dallas. It is February 21st and you are at Romano's Macaroni Grill with your family. Your Grandmother is there as well as your Uncle, his wife and daughter. Plus your lil' bro, Mom and Dad. You are all there to celebrate your Mom's birthday a day early and your Aunt's birthday a week late. You came home to surprise your Mom, but you also wanted to come home to take a break from school. You sure had no idea that in less than 24 hours the same Uncle and Aunt will be driving to your home in Plano to deliver the worst message a brother can relay to his sister. Not an inkling or a hint in your Dad's mind that this would be the last picture he would be taking with you. In fact he insisted that you two take a picture together because he is never in pictures. He is forever taking them, never posing in them. He had two pictures taken that night. Both with you. Here you are in your favorite attire. A white tee-shirt, preferably a Hurley and jeans. The ever present hat is not on your head because you have doffed it to show respect. That uncovered head is probably swimming with thoughts of your coming Mexico spring break trip, that your Dad just questioned you about. So excited about what you and Danny, a junior high classmate, will be doing once you land in Cancun. You had no idea that your Mydia will be getting a 75% refund after the sad cancellation of your Mexican trip, from the travel agent, since you smartly bought the insurance. Just a simple crop and you are no longer with your Dad.

Let's rewind the calendar back a year and a half. You're on the football field at Tabor College. Your team is playing against one of your school's KCAC rivals, Sterling College. You are kicking a field goal towards your hated side of the field. You always claim the wind swirls a little weirder towards these uprights. You always claim that footing is sketchy at best at this part of the field. I will bet my eyes that you had no idea you are kicking towards the direction of your Memorial Prayer Garden that your Mydia and the school have agreed to create. A Prayer Garden that will provide students like you a place to retreat for a moment and hopefully commune with God. All you know is that your motion should be smooth. Your follow-through must be complete and that this ball better explode of your foot and sail between the uprights. Your vanity showed a bit every time you saw this picture. You loved the definition of your leg and arm muscles. You never spoke of if you made or missed this kick. I suspect the north side of the field caused you three points again.

Let's go back a little further. This time let us go back to the night of your Senior Prom at Dallas Academy. It is 2004 and you were nervous. Your date is a cousin of one your close friends at DA. Chelsea set you up with her cousin and you in turn set her up with one of your oldest friends, Mathew. Mathew has been your friend since Kindergarten. You two are both excited to be sharing a limousine. Excited for the possibilities that only an 18 year old mind can concoct. Your Mom and Mydia are raving about how sharp you look. You can't stop talking about your tuxedo. How it is the latest design and how you are certain no one will be wearing the same style at the prom. Your 18 year old brain definitely did not imagine that five years or so from this moment that you will be wearing your favorite twice worn Perry Ellis suit at your viewing at Restland. The suit and shirt that you bought in preparation of a New Year's Eve party in Downtown Dallas is the same suit you will be wearing as almost 400 people pay their final respects to you. Among these people are your Pre-K, kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school and college classmates. Including in this total are your friends, family, friends of your family and family of your friends. All of them you have touched one way or another. Some flew from New York and California. A huge contingent are your football teammates arriving in a the same chartered bus you shared with them on your away games. Some of your visitors will approach your family and say, "He looks so alive in his suit." Your Mom and Dad knew exactly what to lay you in, in your final resting place. But while this picture is being shot, while you stood by the fireplace at Mydia's house, not a thought crosses your mind about this tragic end.

Flash Forward to the now! Here's the worst collage your Mother ever put together for you.  It took her over a year to do so, because not only did she want it perfect, she also knew it is one of the last things she will ever do for you.  Individually these pictures represent points of joy in your life. Individually they show how you lived your life. And boy did you live for the moment! You naively aimed for perfection. You were always seeking that awesome kick-ass experience. Now collectively, they have become your headstone. Now collectively they have become a reminder to whomever visits your grave of whom you were once to them. Some will cry because they miss you.  Some will cry because they know that they will no longer have new experiences with you on this Earth.  Some will cry because the future they thought they were going to have with you was snuffed out in an instant because of your senseless passing.  Most will shed a tear or two, but hopefully they will also smile. Smiles that are bittersweet. Smiles that may be forced or smiles that just slowly creep up on their faces.  Hopefully some will even laugh remembering a moment they shared with you.  Strangers who are there at Restland visiting their loved ones may stop for a moment and realize how young you were. They may wonder about the lines, Do Something. Be Better. They may understand the simple, straight forward meaning of those to short sentences or they may not. They may giggle at the fact that you have two middle names. No matter what they notice, I pray they see that you are loved and that you are missed. I pray that they did not experience burying a son, a grandson or a big brother. I hope they stopped a moment to say a little prayer for you and for us, because we definitely need them. Prayer and love are what sustain us now. So any assistance in both departments are definitely welcomed.