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May 17th, 2011…a day that we can’t forget.

TinaBy Tina Ray, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

It’s the telephone call that you hope you never get. “Get to the hospital now!  There’s been a terrible accident!”  May 17th, 2011, was the day that happened.  You go into panic mode.  Your heart starts racing, your thoughts are jumbled.  You have to remember how to drive, how to get to the hospital.  When I finally got there and walked into the Family Consult room, I saw my husband there in tears, inconsolable with a doctor and a nurse, by himself hearing the worst news he’s ever heard.  His son, my stepson, wasn’t going to make it.  What do you say, what do you do?  It all started out as a normal Tuesday in Greensboro, NC.  Suddenly, our lives were turned upside down.

My stepson Colby had been a passenger in a vehicle that was in that horrific accident. The driver was killed onsite, but Colby was brought into the hospital.  Due to the amount of head trauma, there was nothing that the doctors could do.  He was not going to live.

The car went under the back of a stopped school bus that was picking up children for school. No one knows exactly what happened and we never will.  The larger question was WHY?  Why did this happen?  He was only 21 with a long life ahead of him.  Colby had his share of problems and demons as we all do, but was trying to get his life on track. He worked a full-time job, he had a huge heart and enjoyed life to the fullest.

Some of his immediate family was out of town, so the doctors kept him comfortable until everyone could get there. Of course, our families and friends poured in to offer support and to say their final goodbyes.  Colby’s two brothers and his younger sister, who was nine at the time, had to be told the terrible news.  His mother and grandparents were devastated.  His maternal grandfather would not come to the hospital; he couldn’t deal with the heartbreak.  His 5-month-old nephew would not remember Uncle Colby’s touch, but would only know him from photographs and our memories.

Our Pastor was there with prayers and words of encouragement. She was our anchor.

Fortunately, Colby was able to be a donor. He was able to help others have better lives even though his was ending.

When they finally took him off of the ventilator, his mother and father were there with our Pastor as she sang a beautiful song to try to ease some of their pain. We buried him on my niece’s 16th birthday.

Our blended families came together then to deal with a terrible loss. Although I wasn’t Colby’s mother, I still loved him as though he was mine.  His parents were divorced and I was the “stepmother”.  My parents thought of him as one of their grandchildren.  My son thought of him as a brother and a friend.  The past became the past.

I think that I would just like everyone to remember that, when you’re going through a separation or divorce or a custody matter, you are connected forever if you have children. Don’t let this affect your relationship with your children.  Don’t use your children as pawns.  If you are a step-parent, you need to love the children as if they are your own.  You never know when/if you may get that terrible phone call.