“Tanya’s grandson was killed in a car accident last night.”
It took a second for my mother’s words to sink in… in all of my 29 years, I could not recall our family ever having experienced the tragedy of an unexpected death, much less one of a minor child.
I recall one Christmas Eve with the family many years before, where we all gathered at my great aunt’s house as was the tradition. Dylan was maybe only 5 years old. He was here, there, and everywhere that night, full of energy and rambunctious spirit. He would run up to me on the couch, literally POUNCE on my lap and give a mighty ROAR, as he was playing the role of a lion, and taking the character quite seriously as many children do. His blond hair was wild, and did indeed frame his joyous face like a mane. He was the leader of the little cousins, born into the role, most certainly.
Years later, he would spend time with my twin sons in the summer at his grandmother’s pool, swimming with them, hanging out and playing. Though he was much older, he was still so good with them. His younger sister would usually be around, a beautiful young girl always just a few steps behind her big brother. Both kids were so loving and friendly to all. I remember thinking what a great kid I thought Dylan was turning out to be. He had the world ahead of him… a strong, loving and supportive family, good looks, and an exceptional personality.
I’ve attended countless funerals, both as a mourner and as the Funeral Director. I remember Dylan’s very well. The church was at capacity, standing room only. I remember persuading my mother to allow my two young sons, both 8 at the time, to attend the services with the family. Her initial feeling being that they were too young, but relenting to my protests that they should have the chance to say goodbye, and see first hand the heartbreak of losing a life so young. I remember the slideshow chronicalizing Dylan’s life in pictures, set to music. To this day when I hear “Pictures of You”, I think of Dylan and a telltale lump will rise in my throat.
Eight years later, I awoke to find a powerful message on my morning news feed, shared by a friend and mentor on his funeral home facebook page. I had begun reading it before fully digesting who I was reading about, when suddenly my brain kick started and recognition came flooding back. DYLAN. This post was about my second cousin, young Dylan, who had passed 8 years prior. His mother had written a truthful and heartbreaking post about the events and happenings the night her son died, and was sharing his story in hopes it would resonate with an audience and make a difference in someone else’s life.
Here is the post in its entirety, written by Dylan’s mother, Jamie, and shared here with her permission. You can find it on my facebook as well, and we encourage you to share it- to reach the masses. Links are below the message.
“I realize that I have shared this story many times. When I do share it, I do so publicly with prayers that it will touch someone out there in this world, maybe even teens; and their life will change. I urge each of you to please SHARE this story if not publicly but with your friends and family. I am throwing a rock into a body of water in hopes that it will ripple out and continue to touch those it needs to.
Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second. — Alice In Wonderland
Always remember that whatever you are walking through in your life, it is not for nothing. One day, it will all make sense.
On April 19, 2008, in a small Texas community Dylan attended an after party of Lockney High School Prom in which he and some of his Floydada friends were invited. It was held out in the country at a Senior’s house. The kids who had the party had given the parents money to go buy the alcohol. However none of this could ever been 100% proven by the Texas Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms due to nobody being willing to step forward to testify.
Dylan as well as the other Floydada boys had called their parents and asked if they could spend the night at different friend’s homes. All of us agreed to this having not suspected that they had just lied to us and were going out to this party instead. I had called Dylan to bring me some spaghetti sauce at 10:30 PM on from Allsup’s (convenience store), which he did. At that time, he had not been drinking and was not drunk. We engaged in small talk. He then asked, “Well can I go now? Can I go now?” while giving me that crooked smile of his. I said, “Yeah I guess and don’t forget to come home early tomorrow.” He said, “Love Ya and See Ya!”
At about 4:00 AM, five boys from both Floydada and Lockney decided they needed something to eat, so they went into Allsup’s in Floydada. While there, a Floydada Police Officer was in the store who did absolutely nothing to the boys for being out that late. He also claimed all of them looked as if they were of age and did not act or seem drunk. Instead he was too interested in messing with a car full of girls outside. A younger friend of mine happened to be there and in line behind Dylan. She talked to him and asked to use his phone because she wanted to text her friends in the car who the officer would not leave alone. I asked her to tell me the truth about Dylan and if that he was drunk. She said no that he wasn’t, but he was VERY nervous about the officer being there. Later when the officer was questioned about the boys he said, “They didn’t seem drunk at all and looked to be 17, which is the age you can be out past curfew.” Well 3 were 18, 1 was 17, and Dylan was 15!!
On their way back to their friend’s house early morning hours of April 20th, we do agree that most of them had been drinking that night. However as to whether they were drunk at this time, we do not truly know for sure, but the driver had not been drinking at all. Therefore regardless of who and had not been drinking, they did have a designated driver. They were on a dirt road when a rabbit ran out in front of them. There was some swerving for the rabbit whether it was to hit it or avoid it. The driver lost control & flipped the pickup. All but one were ejected. Dylan was asleep when it happened, died immediately and never knew the wreck occurred. The survivors tried to give Dylan and the other boy CPR out in that field that night till they knew they were gone. The other boy died in one of the other boy’s arms. When the police, EMTs, and firefighters arrived; there was not much they could do but help get the three survivors to the hospital. They all were having such a terrible time because they had known these boys all of their lives. Even the police dispatcher was a good friend of mine.
Come Monday morning at school, many classes had 3 empty chairs in them at FHS and 2 at LHS. It was horribly tragic for the families of these 5 boys as well as the entirety of these 2 communities. Dylan was a 15-year-old Freshman who had just been moved up to a starting Varsity Football position when spring practices had begun. The other boy was a 17-year-old Senior who was planning to go off to college and begin a whole new independent life. There were roughly about 2500 people who attended each funeral that day Wednesday, April 23, 2008.
Each of these kids chose to lie about their whereabouts in order to go to a place that they knew full well was NOT a place they had any business being. They then chose to get into a pickup and NOT put on their seatbelts, which caused them to be ejected that resulted in their deadly injuries, and their friends trying to revive them. I still cannot imagine what the survivors went through that night being in the middle of nowhere, having just had a horrible wreck and knowing 2 of their friends were dead. When the driver arrived at the hospital, they thought he had a collapsed lung due to the fact that he had blood all over him and was spitting up even more blood. However the blood was Dylan’s and not his.
Our family chose to blame no one except Dylan because he alone made the wrong choice. I had given him ample warning about these things because I too had been there myself and had buried 8 friends up to that point.
Teens need to learn that their VERY OWN actions DO HAVE consequences and sometimes it is deadly, even if you are trying to do it the right way. Remember these kids had a designated driver, but a teen DD in a car full of teens who had been drinking that night is STILL dangerous because teens are more likely to do stupid stunts with a sober friend than if it had been an adult!!
Six hours after Dylan said “See Ya” and walked out the door, he was dead on April 20, 2008, at 4:30 AM. I will see him again, but it will be in Heaven. The next time I saw him was the afternoon of April 21st in a casket, very cold and full of embalming fluid. Of course it was just his shell, but I had given birth to him, raised him, and I was not yet finished!! However God thought otherwise because He had other plans for Dylan and my family.
For those who think it cannot happen to them, IT CAN! For those of you who think you know it all, YOU DO NOT!!
I had these exact conversations with my son the VERY week he died. He assured me that he DID KNOW IT ALL, and it would NEVER EVER happen to him. Whatever … I had already buried 8 friends, I believe that I KNEW BEST!!
I BEG ALL TEENS TO PLEASE DO NOT BE STUPID AND PUT YOUR PARENTS THROUGH WHAT WE HAVE HAD TO GO THROUGH. IT IS HELL ON EARTH TO BURY YOUR CHILD!
Dylan never finished his Freshman year of High School. He never played a Friday Night Football game, which was his dream. He never attended a Prom. He never graduated High School or got to go to College. He will never marry or have children. ALL of Dylan’s dreams were shattered instantly as were ours.
However what broke my heart most was when Tana said to me one day through tears, “Mom, my kids will never get to know my Bubba or get to go visit at Uncle Dylan’s house and get to play with their cousins as they grow up!” All I could say was, “I’m so sorry Sweetie.” She said, “It just is not fair, and it sucks.” Tana never again slept in her bed and rarely visited her room, which was right next door to Dylan’s room. The memories and security of him being just right next door were shattered! She moved into the living room where she remained for the next three years until we moved. Tana will never get to be an aunt or have support from her brother as we grow older. She will never get that “brotherly advice” as she navigates through life. Her only sibling is dead!
For weeks after Dylan’s death, one of our dogs (Maggie) would lie by the front door waiting for him to come home every night. I would have to coax her into bed telling her over and over again that he was not coming home again. She would go into his room and lie on his bed. When we moved to a different town just 30 miles away for healing, she went crazy because she could not find him and did not have the comfort of his room to flee to. She hung herself on her collar trying to escape out of the fence, so I guess she finally found him.
Teen Death affects every single person in your family, friends, school and community. It is a burden they will carry for the rest of their lives. To parents and siblings it is a wound that does not ever heal no matter how long time has passed. Time along with your FAITH in God above does allow some understanding and the ability to deal with it better. However there will always be those bad moments, days, weeks and/or times of the year when it all comes flooding back, and the loss is just as raw and painful as it were the very day it had occurred. That, my friends, will NEVER change. This is my child, and I will always remain his Mom always.
The loss of a child is an absolute nightmare! May God Bless each of you, and I do hope that you will realize that your actions DO have consequences!! Teens need to think beyond each weekend realizing that in an instant life as they knew it could be changed forever while on this earth!! This is a message I want to get into their heads. If you find yourself in a similar situation, call an adult. I had always told Dylan to just call me, but he did not. Now he is my Angel until once again we will be reunited, and our family will no longer be broken.
Again, please share. Make it go VIRAL!! Nothing this week would make my broken heart happier.”
(Written by Dylan’s mother, Jamie. Shared with her permission.)
Links to share the post: