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On July 15, 2003 my whole world turned upside down. What followed for the next couple of years was depression off and on, some health challenges, fear, more depression. It was a vicious cycle. Why is this date of significance and why am I writing about it now?

Today, November 25th (not sure why it is saying the 26th at the top, it is a day off)  would mark the 20th birthday of one of the most beloved people in my life. Dusten Ryan Williams. But, July 15, 2003 cut his life short. It was a typical day for Dusten, I imagine. I was to pick him up either that day or the next day as he was going to come stay a week with us (he was living in Texas with his mother, but came back every summer to see his father) and possibly go camping. I had decided I would probably pick him up the next day, which was Wednesday July 16th as I was very tired from a lack of sleep from my baby, Benjamin keeping me up at night. That evening, I think around 6 pm, on our way out the door to go eat, I received the most devastating call of my life. What was so weird about it is that my cousin that I grew up with called to let me know their was an accident and it involved Dusten. She didn’t have to say anymore. I knew he was dead. Although she did and her words blew a hole threw my eardrums and ripped my heart out. You see, all day I kept thinking of Dusten. It was weird, but I did. Something didn’t seem quite right, but I didn’t know what it was. I kept telling myself I needed to call him and tell him I would probably pick him up tomorrow as I was very exhausted, but hadn’t quite got to it yet. It was different the urgency I felt. I wasn’t sure if it was that I was just that excited about seeing him (I normally always was. He was a huge light in my life. I absolutely adored him and his presence) or what. I blew it off as excitement. All time froze that evening.

He was out with some friends getting ready to go swimming. His dad lives in a small town on the outskirts of Salina. He was sitting in the passenger side of the car in the backseat. From what I understand he was goofing off with his head out the window (which sounds like him, he was a very lively person) and it distracted the young driver of the car as he kept looking back at Dusten to tell him to put his head in the window. When the driver looked up he seen a tractor coming out of the drive way, obviously oblivious to the oncoming car with his forks lifted midway up. He basically panicked and slammed his breaks on (going down a dirt road) and they slid into the tractor. They all seen it coming except for my Dusten. So they ducked as the forks went through the window. Dusten never seen it coming and was nearly decapitated and died instantly.

These words still sting. I hate it. I don’t deny it. It sucks. Truly SUCKS! I loved him dearly. I think because of the age difference what I felt for him was almost motherly. It reminds me of what I feel for my kids. I have often asked why him? Why then? Why didn’t I get a chance to say bye? Why on the day I was supposed to pick him up? Why didn’t I just pick him up? Why did he have to be goofing off?  Why didn’t the driver just ingore him? Why was the driver of the tractor driving illegally with the forks in mid air? Why didn’t the land owners have the tree’s cut down when it was recommended to them a long time ago because it created a blind spot? Why, why, why? So many why’s? And really no answers.

Dusten was a beautiful person. He really was. His love for life, people, and animals was unsurpassed. He had the most radiant smile ever. He was BEAUTIFUL. He later suffered from asthma. And I always thought he was going to kill himself because he couldn’t resist cats, which would trigger his asthma. I remember when he came to stay with us one summer while I was still at home and we had a ton of cats (I think about 17…we lived out in the country) he couldn’t stay away from them….like all day long! I kept telling him he was going to induce an asthma attack. But, he couldn’t stay away. Later that night when I went to bed, Dusten was already sound asleep in my bed. I crawled in bed next to him and he was heaving badly. So badly it was shaking the bed. His rib cage would slowly rise high and then collapse. I woke him and and told him he needed to wake up because he couldn’t breathe. He had forgot or deliberately left his inhaler behind (not really sure). His dad lived about 20 min from us and it was in the middle of the night. I felt kind of panicky. Wondering why he had to play with those cats! I went upstairs to wake mom up and was wondering if we should attempt to call mark (his dad, my step dad) or the ambulance. He was heaving badly. And the rattle sounded awful. But, I decided to give him an herb that I had on hand from my then occasional asthma, called Lobelia. He was better within 5-10 min.

This was his beauty.  He didn’t care about himself. He was passionate about other life and he wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of that.

I never want to forget him.  I still remember his smile, the sound of his voice. The way his unique laugh was. I remember those beautiful eyes. I remember his vibrant energy. I hardly seen him when he was NOT laughing or smiling. I am not saying he was perfect. Nobody is. He had his own shortcomings to. But, he was definitely special. He was the first person to get my 3 month old son to laugh. Genuinely laugh. I was in the kitchen one day when I heard the cutest little LONG laugh occur. I turned around and seen it was Benjamin. Dusten adored babies. And he was holding Benjamin for the first time that December. Dusten had a hat on and a necklace. He was engrossed with Benjamin. He simply was saying “get you, get you, get you” as his face moved in closer to Benjamin’s. Benjamin thought that was a trip! It was a beautiful memory. I wish I could have captured it on film.

I am so glad that I talked with him on the phone before he died as well. I was able to capture his “maturing” voice for the first time. How so much can change in a few months time! I was so stunned by his changing voice, that I didn’t even say I loved him at the end of the conversation like I always did. For some reason I guess I just thought since he was going through puberty maybe he didn’t want me to talk like that to him or something…lol. Especially since distance had seperated us a bit. But, I will forever remember his last words to me. I had just told him bye and that I would call back and let him know when I would pick him up. He said ok. As I was getting ready to let him go, he said “hey” (kind of jokingly), I replied “yes?” He paused and said “I love you.” Those three words coming from him warmed me like nothing else. And now they are mine to treasure.

Although it has been hard dealing with his death and the memory of him, That memory that you don’t want to forget (yet brings you happiness mixed with a lot of pain….bittersweet memories), I can honestly see God’s hand in it. I remember having the instinct in me that I would never see Dusten grow up. I wasn’t sure why. Was it his asthma? Was I going to die? I didn’t know if the feeling was real or made up. But, I had it for awhile. Dusten also came to love God when he was about 11. Although, I don’t think he was actively attending a church or anything upon his death, I remember being told by his grandma that he kept asking his mom if they could go back to church. He loved Sunday school classed. And I have his painting that he did for me in my hand made pottery. I wasn’t done with it. I was pinch potting a tea pitcher. When he came to visit one summer he asked me if he could paint in and on it. I had to think for a min. because I kept thinking that I would love to finish that one day. But, I finally said yes. That is now one of my greatest treasures! He painted an angel and a cross and some other things like hearts and whatnot. Also God gave me a son before Dusten’s death. I definitely wanted a boy as my first. And He gave me Ben at a time when I probably needed him most. Not really for a replacement, but I was able to turn and nurture him now. I think it would have been even harder to deal with without my son.

The beauty of it all is that I now know that he is at home with God and probably as happy as can be. That is what I take comfort in. And knowing that one day, I will reunite and meet up with him again. And I am greatly looking forward to that! The mercy and grace in it all on my part is that when I was feeling the most down about not saying bye, God graciously gave me closure through a dream. And then I had a series of dreams about him. Since their was a series on the same matter, I personally feel it was from God, meant to comfort. 

As I was a fairly silent griever, not really allowing others to tap into what I was feeling (save a few times when breaking down in front of David after the major breakdown of the news of his death) I feel this is what led me to some health problems. I am sure that combined with a few other things. But, I truly feel that stress is a big factor in health. But, I can say that through God’s help I have been healed and seen His love more clearly. And come to experience what He can do for me. What He will also do for you. If we but let Him. 

Anyhow, I will be posting some of Dusten’s pictures on my myspace sight as well. He was and always will be a big part of my life. He brought the sunshine wherever he went.

Till we meet again.

 

Larissa

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