The business of living must go on-a true story of a grieving mother

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Rebecca and I both attended Conroe High School in the 80’s and graduated the same year. We both moved on with our lives and lost touch with one another …. until Facebook arrived. We became Facebook friends and I watched her life through various posts, but didn’t have any real conversations with her until July 2014.

I was working at The Courier in Conroe on a Saturday morning scrolling through Facebook, looking for news, and that’s when I knew something was terribly wrong. By what she had written, I could feel her devastation in her posts. My heart began beating faster, as I didn’t know any details, but something horrible had happened to her. I immediately messaged her and said, “Rebecca, I don’t know what has happened, but I’m praying for you.”

Eventually, I found out that her son had been riding his motorcycle with friends and died in a wreck on FM 2854. Read the story here.

The Cashner Funeral Home was packed with thousands of people and motorcyclists who came to give respect to Jonathon and his family. Not everyone could get inside.

A few months after the funeral, I asked Rebecca if she wanted to meet for coffee. I wanted to give her an ear that would listen, a friend who didn’t mind hearing or seeing the raw emotion of mother with a broken heart. Since that day, we have renewed our friendship and I asked her if she wanted to share her story….she did. Here is her story.

—–Many friends and family remember Jonathon Want as “a fun-filled sack of love for people,” according to his mother Rebecca, a resident of Conroe. “In the words of his sister Paige Lowe, “He had a mouth like a sailor, he acted like a god, had the appearance of a scary man, he walked with pride, and his heart was gold!”
“He did not mind telling you what he thought, sometimes it was good, sometimes it was bad, but he spoke honestly about how he felt and that was so refreshing,” his mother said.

Jonathon passed away July 25, 2014 in Conroe at the age of 27. He was born September 10, 1986 in Conroe, TX to Darrel and Rebecca Want. Jonathon was a member of a local motorcycle club. He was a very talented tattoo artist who had a shop above The Corner Pub in Conroe.

How did you hear about his accident?

On the night of July 25, 2014, a little after 10 pm, my phone rang.  I looked at the name and all I could feel was dread. It was my daughter-in-law calling. She seldom called and never that time of night.  I answered the phone and remember her sweet voice, it was cracking, and she said you need to get to Conroe Regional Hospital, Jonathon was hit and his legs are bad.  I think at that time we both knew the inevitable. I flew out of bed and tried finding clothes to throw on, I couldn’t find anything to put on!  It was a horrible feeling, knowing you had to get someplace quickly but your mind was not working well enough to function properly.
As parents, especially moms, we have a special connection with our kids. People speak of that “feeling” you get when your children have passed away.  It is like your soul has lost something, a part of itself has left.  I knew he was no longer with us and I remember talking to myself and saying my son is dead.  I found clothes to throw on, I honestly don’t know if they matched or not and I really didn’t care.  I had to get to the hospital.  I parked, walked up to the emergency room, all of his brothers that were riding with him and the rest of the club was there.

My daughter-in-love looked at me and shook her head no, over and over again.  I was told I threw my purse, I don’t really remember and I ran to her and just hugged her.  I remember looking up and seeing one of his brothers covered in blood and I wanted to hug him but I couldn’t let go of our sweet Jenny.
I knew I had to make those calls.  I didn’t want to.  The sound of my youngest daughters’ disbelief hurt me.  She said, “Mom stop joking.” I said, “Baby Love, I am not joking, your brother is not with us any longer.” I had to call my parents and oldest daughter.  I will never forget the sound of utter heartbreak that came out of both my oldest daughter and mother, it was as if a part of them had died as well and was escaping.  It is a sound I hope no one will ever have to hear coming from someone they love.

How did the accident happen?

Jonathon and his brothers in the motorcycle club were on their way to visit with another brother of theirs in Montgomery.  It was night and it was dark.  From what I have been told and understand, there was a car driving in front of them, the driver put on his right blinker and appeared to be turning into a driveway.  At the last moment, he did a U-turn in front of the motorcycles and Jonathon hit his car and flew over the top of the car.  His brothers did everything they could to keep him with us but in the end Jonathon left us.
I do want each person that was with him at his last moment to know they are appreciated and loved.

How have you dealt with Jonathon’s death and all the issues surrounding his death?

At first, I was numb and didn’t want to deal with the death of my oldest child and only son.  I just couldn’t.  I held on so tightly to the thought that Jonathon would not want me to cry he would want me  to be strong that I did not take time to grieve for him.  Once I accepted the fact I would never see my son again, the grief process started.
There were times I couldn’t deal with that much pain, so I tried drowning my pain and sorrow with the bottle.     Knowing full well that at one time Jonathon told me if anything happened to him before I died, I did not have his permission to turn to drugs or alcohol.  So not only did I not “drown the pain”  I felt guilty for not keeping my promise to my son.
There were times that the strength just wasn’t there for me, I had to fight hard and had people fighting for me to regain my strength.
I had several friends that would allow me to escape my reality by coming to their home and staying there, ones that opened their gym to me so that I could work out my anger on the machines, weights or bags.  I had people that just sent me messages that said I love you.  I do have moments of weakness, but I am learning daily how to deal with those emotions.  It is an ongoing process.

Jonathon and his newborn son.

How are you different today because of his death?

Jonathon’s death left a deep hole in my heart, it changed me. At first, I was angry, yelling, sulking, being miserable. I had to change that because my actions were affecting others, after all, the “Business of the Living Must Go On.”
I started focusing on me and changing my attitude to try and find the positive attributes of life, my patience is a bit longer, my love is deeper, and my heart is softer.  I have become more understanding and tolerant of people and what they are going through.  If I see someone that needs a hug, I am going to give them a hug.  If I feel the need to tell someone I love them, I do right then.

How are you turning this tragedy into something good?

Turning this tragedy into something good has been a difficult task. It took forever to find the good, I still don’t know if I have, I do know that I’m trying.
What I would like to do is have a place for mothers who have lost their children to come and talk or just listen to each other. I want to focus on their heart and helping them obtain some peace.

Have you been able to forgive?

I am not a big church goer but I do know that forgiveness is a must.  The anger I had towards God was unreal.  In all honesty, I don’t know if I have completely forgiven him for taking my son.  I do know it is ok to be angry, but it is not ok to self-destruct and cause harm to others because of something that is out of our control.
Forgiving the man that did the u-turn in front of the bikers has been difficult, it is something I am working on, I still can’t completely forgive, but I think that is part of my not understanding,  why couldn’t he take two seconds to be a bit more cautious on that dark road.  That is a question I will never have answered so I don’t dwell on it but it does creep into my soul every now and again.

What do you want to say to those who have lost a child, to encourage them, to give them hope?

I want them to know its okay to grieve and take as long as they need.  There is no set boundaries for “grief time.” You will continue to have “moments” for as long as you are alive and that’s okay too.  I also want them to know that the moments will get further apart, that doesn’t mean that you have stopped loving and missing your child.  There will always be little reminders of them daily.  There will come a time when you realize that your child would not want you to dwell on their passing but relish in the light of life they were able to share with you.  Find the good and focus on that. I also know that sometimes after losing a child, we just need someone to listen to us.  It’s okay to speak our child’s name and to talk about them.  Just listen.

What kind of questions do you get regularly and how do you respond to them? Tell about a time you had to tell someone about Jonathon’s death.

The most shocking question I get is how did he die?  I tell them the story of his death and ask now does it really matter how he died?  I know that is rude of me but honestly, asking a mother how their child died brings back pain they may not want to address at that moment.
Another regular question is “how are you so strong?” Well, I giggle and say I really am not as strong as people think.  I have my moments and when I have them I let them come and deal with them how I feel at that moment.  I know that Jonathon would want me to be as strong as I possibly can so I try and focus on strength and love.

What else would you like to say that I haven’t asked about?

There is a certain statement that is made daily.  I know people only mean to comfort but at a time of loss you tire of hearing, well, “be glad they are in a better place.”  Maybe so, but as a mom, I want my child here with me. That is the best place MY child could be.
It has been long and emotional.  I have a long way to go in healing, not only for me but for everyone else in my life.  I am hoping that those close to me have seen a change.  It is not easy but please remember at this moment I am doing the best I can.  If you see tears in my eyes don’t be uncomfortable.  We all have bad days.

Update as of Nov. 2017:
I haven’t completely forgiven the man that caused the accident, but I am working on it.  I do realize he has to live the rest of his life knowing his actions caused harm.
We, as a family, still miss Jonathon daily.  His widow has gone to make a beautiful life for herself and their son, we wish them the best life has to offer them! My daughters still miss their brother, protector, confidant and best friend, but they keep him alive in their heart and have reminders of him often.

Although our lives have been transformed and our family dynamic has changed, we know that Jonathon would want us to continue to grow and find the love of life we had and he showed daily and we strive to do that, because in the end, things change and no matter how difficult it is the business of living must go on.

 

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