December 17, 2018 started like any other day. I woke up at the crack of dawn with my alarm and hopped in the shower to get ready for work. Got my daughter up to get ready for school and proceeded with our morning routine. As we were starting to leave the house, I put my glasses on, and one of the arms broke off. Had only had those glasses for a few months, so it was a bit unusual that they broke so quickly. Most people would call it an omen of something to come, but I just took it as another crap moment in my life. I do remember looking down at my daughter and saying, “This is going to be a bad day.” Little did I know how true that statement would be.
I continued on with my day as usual, took my daughter to school, then took myself to work. My day was the same as it ever was, answered the phone, wrote orders, worked on shipping and receiving, the same shit different day, until the phone call came. About 1pm my mother called. I answered the phone the same as I always did, not thinking anything horrible, then she uttered the words that changed my life……..”Jayce’s gone.”
At first I was in shock and not quite sure I understood what she meant, so I asked her, “What do you mean ‘he’s gone’?” She then clarified her statement, but telling me he died. I completely lost it as I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, my 20 year old nephew was dead. It didn’t make sense. He was just 20 years old. I watched him grow from an infant to an adult. How could this be? He had is problems, but he wasn’t sick. He couldn’t be dead. Then I thought, “How am I going to tell my daughter?” This was her best friend, her cousin, and the closest thing she had to a sibling. These two grew up together. Yes, he was 7 years older than her, but she grew up with him. My heart was broken, not just because I lost my nephew, but also broken for my daughter and what she just lost.
After I hung up the phone with my mother, I packed up my stuff and left work. I drove straight to my mother’s house. As soon as I got there, I pulled into the first parking spot I saw, turned off my car, and got out. The moment I started walking to my mom’s house from the parking lot, I stopped dead in my tracks. My heart completely sank, because I saw the police cars outside her house and the police officers walking in and out. I also saw my brother heading into my mom’s house. I walked in and tossed my purse onto the couch, without stopping, and headed straight to my mother’s side on the couch. She was already sitting with her arms around my brother. My brother is my nephew’s father.
Even though we were sitting there, totally broken and crying, it still didn’t seem real. My step-dad walked into the house from out back and as soon as he started to speak he started crying. My nephew was his little buddy. It broke my heart to see him so upset and hurting. My mother wasn’t crying. She didn’t seem upset, but I attributed that to her either being in shock still or just being strong for everyone else. While we were sitting there, she told my brother and I that Jayce was still up in his room, if we wanted to see him. I told her that I didn’t want to remember him like that, so I opted out. I don’t really remember if my brother went up or not.
After some time a grief counselor came to the house to gather some more information and give my mom and step-dad some information to look into some actual counseling to help them grieve. At that point Brock arrived. We all quickly rushed to his side as my nephew was like a little brother to him. He refused to believe it was real. I do remember that he did go upstairs to see Jayce and when he came back down he was absolutely distraught. There was no calming him down. I couldn’t stay much past that as I had to pick up Ariel from school. This was going to be one of the hardest things I was ever going to have to do. I was not read.
I arrived in the parking lot to pick her up and not sure how I was going to tell her. I tried to keep my cool as I was watching her walk up to the car. I got out and popped the trunk for her to put her school bag in and I completely lost it. She asked me what was wrong and I couldn’t find the words at first and I just hugged her. Then I was able to take a deep breath and I told her, “Jayce is gone.” That was all I could get out and she knew what I meant. My heart hurt so much for her. We just stood there and hugged and cried. After we got back into the car I asked her if she wanted to go straight home or stop at Grandma’s. She said she wanted to go to Grandma’s, so we went there. She hugged my mom and Brock.
Brock had calmed down some by the time we got there. His wife Hayley had shown up to help comfort him. We left not long after that to head home. It was after 5pm when we headed home and the police hadn’t taken Jayce away yet. I think I remember my mom telling that it was after 7pm when they finally took him out of the house. I didn’t want to wait any longer, as I really didn’t want Ariel to see that. My mom had asked her if she wanted to go up and see him, and I told her no. I didn’t want her to have that memory of him in her head. I wanted her to only remember his beautiful smile and great laugh, not how he looked dead.
After we got home I don’t think we actually ate dinner. She just snuggled with me on the couch and cried. I let her school know what had happened and that she wouldn’t be at school the next day, as I felt she needed the time to grieve. She ended up sleeping in my bed that night. She didn’t want to sleep alone and just wanted time with her mommy. I don’t think I slept a wink that night. My mind just kept racing. I couldn’t wrap my head around the whole day. It still just didn’t seem real to me.
The next morning I still wasn’t sure if that all had actually happened. I had called my mom to see how she was doing, and she was fine. I had her go over the whole day with me again, because I was having trouble wrapping my head around it still. What happened? How did it happen? Why did it happen? He was just barely 20 years old and it was literally a week before Christmas. He wasn’t perfect and he had his issues, but this just didn’t make sense. This wasn’t suicide, in case you were wondering.
My nephew was bi-polar, schizophrenic, a drug addict, depressed, and may have had an alcohol problem (not sure about that, but he did drink). He wasn’t perfect, but he was trying to get help. He did go into rehab twice and seemed to be doing better after the last time in, but he was really good at hiding his issues. Took a while for us to get the autopsy results and turned out it was an accidental drug overdose. I know, it sounds odd that the overdose was accidental if he was doing drugs on purpose, but the reason it is ‘accidental’ is because they could tell by how much was in his system that he wasn’t trying to kill himself. I think it was more of a bad combo than anything else.
It’s been almost 2 years since he left us and it still doesn’t seem real. I still can’t think about him or talk about him without crying. It’s not my eyes just welling up with tears, but actual crying. Typing this out was difficult as I started to cry several times while remembering what happened, but I’ll never forget that day. Almost 2 years later and I still remember every detail like it just happened yesterday. We’re not supposed to bury children, they are supposed to bury us. Losing a parent or any relative is difficult, but losing a child is more difficult. He may not have been my child, but I did watch him grow from a wee baby to an adult.
He was a beautiful person with a huge heart and so much talent. I often wonder what the last 2 years would’ve been like had he not died that day. Would he have finally gotten clean and started on a path to something substantial? Would he have gone back to school and gotten his GED and then maybe gone on to college? What kind of job would he have? I’ll never stop wondering and I’ll never forget him. My love for him took up almost as much space as my love for my daughter. I miss him so much and I do hope he is looking down on us and sees how much we love and miss him.
Do me a favor, hug the ones you love. Pay attention to all the little things. Any changes in their personality, question it. Make sure your kids know that you are there for them whenever they want or need to talk. Do not judge them. Listen to them without judgement. Just let them get out whatever is on their mind. They need to know that you will listen. If they want advice, let them ask you for it. Always remind them how much you love them and are there for them. Don’t push, but don’t let them push you away either. Let them come to you when they are ready, but constantly remind them you are there and are willing to listen. Just love them unconditionally