Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 170

A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” But that all changed as of January 9th 2001.

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 46
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16


My old friend, Allan Traylor, came up to our home in New Hampshire to share our grief. He brought Paul and Barbara Weatherbee with him. Paul and Barbara were very important to us because they helped lay the groundwork for our strong Christian faith. I remember the three of them standing in our kitchen patiently listening to us talk about Adam. I think I read them some of the poetry Adam had written. They shared some memories of Adam with us too. It was very meaningful to Mal and I that Allan, Paul and Barbara came to be with us. But I mostly remember how difficult it was for me to talk about Adam without crying. If I couldn’t hold myself together in my own house with close friends who loved us, how on earth could I stand up in front of dozens of people at the upcoming memorial service?

My youngest brother, Rick, came up and he went to the accident site with my brother-in-law Greg to gather up the items that were scattered on the ground during the process of the rescue squad getting Adam out of the wrecked car. They also went to the junkyard where the car was taken (Greg knew I wouldn’t want to see the crushed car) and recovered all of Adam’s stuff. There were piles of clothes, lots of trash, hundreds of music CDs, and the briefcase I had given him when he was a young kid containing some beads and his autographed picture of Davy Jones of The Monkees. Most of it was still soaked with diesel fuel so not too much was salvageable. Greg brought it to his home and spread it out on tarps in his garage so we could go through it. We kept Adam’s CDs, a few items of clothing and his briefcase.

Greg and I spent many hours putting together music for the upcoming memorial service. We listened to old audio tapes of Adam singing at his elementary school and watched hours of home movies on video tape, trying to determine what would be the most meaningful songs and snippets of dialog to celebrate Adam’s life. The people who would come to the memorial service knew Adam at various points in his life so we thought we should share a broad range of songs that reflected his whole life. Seeing Adam on videotape made this an emotional time for us all, but we knew we had to finish this soon.

When the local newspaper was delivered, the front page featured the following story:

“Gilford man, 21, dies in crash”

“A Gilford man was killed on Tuesday when his car collided head-on with a dump truck on Route 106. Police say that the man was in the process of making a U-turn when the accident occurred.

“According to a press release issued by the Belmont Police Department, Adam Howley, 21, no address given, was transported to Lakes Region General Hospital by the Belmont Fire Department ambulance where he was pronounced dead from injuries suffered in the collision.

“The accident occurred at 11:19 a.m. while Howley was traveling north in his Honda Accord near the intersection of Lamprey and Farrarville Roads.

“Police say that Howley’s vehicle crossed the center lane of Route 106 just south of the intersection and struck the side of an unloaded dump truck driven by Christopher Fortin, 44, of Belmont. Fortin was traveling south when the accident occurred. He was uninjured in the crash, police said.

“Once on the scene, police found that Howley’s vehicle had spun to the side of the road in the northbound lane, while the dump truck had spun in the opposite direction, landing in an area just off the southbound portion of the roadway.

“Traffic on a portion of Route 106 was detoured while police and firefighters picked through large amounts of debris that were scattered all over the road.

“According to the police report, Howley’s vehicle was totally destroyed and the dump truck received substantial damage to the driver’s side.

“‘It appears that the car that was headed northbound was making a U-turn to change directions when it went in the path of the dump truck traveling in the opposite direction,’ Belmont Police Chief David Nielsen said at the accident scene. ‘The vehicles collided in the southbound lane causing the car to spin into the northbound shoulder of the road, and the truck to spin into an area off of the southbound lane,’ Nielsen said.

“According to the Belmont Police, Howley is from Gilford and was attending an out-of-state university. No further information on him was immediately available. Belmont Fire Department, the Gilmanton Police Department, the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department and the New Hampshire State Police all assisted Belmont Police Department at the scene.”

When I first read this, I was stunned by the headline referring to Adam as a “man.” I had not thought of him that way. To me he was my child, my kid. Then, after thinking about the story, I became more upset. I had talked with the Police Chief Nielsen and based on the truck driver’s statement, he knew that Adam was not trying to make an illegal U-turn. Adam had fallen asleep and his car slowly drifted across the lane. I called the newspaper reporter and asked him to correct this story. During our short conversation the reporter lamented that the police wouldn’t let him close enough to the accident scene to get a “good” photograph of the wrecked car. I ended my phone call before I lost my temper with him. This is what he wrote:

“Accident victim may have dozed off.”

“While police initially thought a U-turn was to blame for the motor vehicle accident which claimed the life of 21-year-old Adam Howley of Gilford, officials and the driver of the dump truck which was hit now believe that it is more likely that the victim fell asleep at the wheel or was distracted.

“There is no question from police or the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident that Howley’s Honda Accord crossed the center line before it struck the side of Christopher Fortin’s unloaded dump truck.

“The questions which remain are why Howley crossed into the southbound lane of Route 106 and why he failed to see the large truck traveling in the opposite direction.

“Fortin, who watched the accident unfold in front of his eyes, maintains that Howley wasn’t in the process of doing a U-turn when he swerved and struck the truck. He talked about what he saw through the windshield of his dump truck moments before it was hit. ‘I can’t say exactly what happened, but it seemed to me like he must have been asleep. I saw him come into my lane and I pulled into the breakdown lane. When something like that happens, the first thing you do is to give the person the entire road to get corrected and I moved over as much as possible,’ said Fortin.

“He added that Howley’s vehicle continued in its path with the driver unresponsive to the dangers which lay ahead.

‘“He was in my lane for a long period of time. I have been driving for a long time and I have never seen anything like it. I don’t think he knew my truck was even there. Looking at this right in front of me was very unusual and scary,’ remarked Fortin.

“While Fortin’s testimony points toward Howley having fallen asleep at the wheel, local authorities say they can’t be sure why the car traveled into the southbound lane. Detective Steve Crockett of the Belmont Police Department was on the scene following the accident.

‘We aren’t sure what caused him to cross the center line. We investigated the matter and concluded that there were no mechanical problems in either of the vehicles that would have caused them to enter into each other’s lanes. He could have dozed off or he could have been distracted. We just don’t know for sure,’ said Crockett.”

After this poorly written article, the same reporter sloppily (and with some misquotes and factual errors) wrote another article about Adam:

“Young man killed in crash remembered as ‘gifted’, artistic.”

“The parents of a 21-year-old local man, who was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Belmont on Tuesday, say their son was an aspiring actor who was preparing to leave for college in the spring.

“‘Adam was enrolled to start college in the spring semester at University of Rhode Island. He was going to leave on Friday for school,’ said Paul Howley, Adam’s father.

“Adam Howley, 12 Williamsburg Ave., Gilford, died at Lakes Region General Hospital from injuries received when his car crossed the center line on Route 106 and collided with a dump truck.

“On Wednesday, his father talked about the loss of his son saying that when the accident occurred, Adam was returning from an appointment at the University of Rhode Island.

“‘When you hear about something like that you are just in shock. He had called me in the morning from the school at 8 a.m. and he said he would see me in a little while,’ lamented the father.

“While a definite answer as to what caused the accident that claimed Adam’s life has not been made, his parents say they have only begun to deal with the sudden loss of their son.

“‘We are making arrangements today to take care of everything, but it is really tough to be taking out old pictures and looking back at his life,’ said Paul.

“Paul and his wife Marilyn are originally from Massachusetts, where Adam graduated from Lexington Christian Academy.

“‘When he got out of high school, Adam went to school for one year at The Boston Conservatory of Music majoring in theater,’ Paul explained. ‘He has always been in plays ever since he was five years old and he knew what he wanted to be. He loved to sing and dance, and it comforts us to know that now he is dancing in Heaven.’

He also said Adam was an extremely gifted individual.

“‘He was a really brilliant kid. He won the Headmaster’s Scholarship for Academics when he was in high school and also won a Massachusetts Drama award. He was a fun-loving and truly caring person. Adam was always happy and we will really miss him,’ Paul said.

“He said Adam had been working at Friendly’s Restaurant on Union Avenue in Laconia since July. Personnel who worked with him at the establishment said that Adam will be missed very much.

“‘Sunday was his last day because he was returning to college. He was a prep cook here and a waiter. Around here, he was one of the gang and everyone loved him,’ said Mike Kearney, general manager at Friendly’s.

“‘He had a really great personality and was truly funny. Last Sunday he dyed his hair red because of a play he was doing. He was a very young man and this is very sad,’ Kearney said, adding that approximately 300-400 people are expected at Adam’s memorial service.”

Next chapter: preparations for the memorial service.
Photo: Adam's accident scene

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 169

A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” But that all changed as of January 9th 2001.

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 46
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16
Meridith: Adam’s best friend

“Meridith Remembers”

Meridith Burkus, Adam’s girlfriend, told me, “I had a job interview at a restaurant in the Prudential Center on the morning of Adam’s accident. It was snowing on my walk home and I had nothing else to do so I randomly decided to go back to sleep. I was asleep when Adam fell asleep at the wheel and that’s when I had the dream. In my dream Adam and I were together and he said, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t do it to hurt you (referring to Rhode Island) I love you.’

“Adam and I had spoken at length on the telephone that weekend. He was telling me all about how his plans to go back to college in Rhode Island were coming together. It took every ounce of self-control to not blurt out, ‘I love you so much’ but I didn’t because I knew that could veer him off the new course he was successfully on. I wanted him to start school on his own. We had decided to ‘take a break’ shortly after his 21st birthday because I knew that I would get too wrapped up in helping him get into school and get things together at the expense of my own studies. We were so attached and I felt that we needed to accomplish things on our own and then come back together a little less co-dependent. I’ve gone back and forth on this choice but in the end I spent two or three months working on myself by reconnecting with Mr. Greco and his church in Cambridge and really focusing on my studies. I think I developed the strength to get through what was about to happen. I’m not sure where I’d be if I hadn’t made the decision to do some soul searching that fall.

“You called my parents’ house in Groton and told my brother David about the accident and he gave you my telephone number in Boston. I remember exactly what you said to me. ‘Hi Meridith. It’s Paul Howley. Adam died today. There was an accident.’ Unfortunately, this has played over and over in my head so many times so I never forgot it. I remember trying to tell you ‘He was my best friend’ but I couldn’t breathe or get words out. I do remember being able to offer to call Phil Doreau but you said you wanted to contact him yourself. So, I hung up the phone and called home. I spoke to David who just said, ‘I know. Mom’s getting dressed. She’s coming to get you.’ Most all of my friends were away from Boston, on vacation, so I was pretty much all alone. I called the only person I knew was home (our mutual friend Rita) and I told her I needed to find Tori because she’d understand. Tori’s father died the year before. They told me to meet them at a fast-food place called The Wrap. I ordered a smoothie and they walked me back to my apartment. When I got there, my Mom, David, my brother Andy, and my friend Kenny and his girlfriend were waiting for me. I think someone in my family had called Kenny to tell him and he just got in his car and drove to be with me.

“When I arrived at my parent’s house I didn’t get further than the kitchen sink before I started vomiting uncontrollably. It’s probably the only reason I remember ordering a smoothie at The Wrap. I couldn’t stop. While I know that no one else slept that night, I remember forcing myself to pass out to stop throwing up. It sounds crazy, but I felt Adam’s hand on my shoulder. I held it and immediately fell asleep.

“The next morning, flowers were delivered to me. They were from my high school English teacher who remembered Adam fondly. My hometown of Groton lost three fellow students in the time Adam and I were dating, all of whom Adam either knew or knew their siblings. At the last funeral, during my freshman year of college, my English teacher said, ‘Let’s make this the last one.’ The flowers told me that she remembered that too.

“We then drove to Laconia to see you and Mal. Mal answered the door. As my Mom’s often retelling of that day, she said that Mal collapsed in my arms. My Mom says the rest of the day Mal was trying to be strong and was guarded for all of the people who came to the house that day. But with me she could actually cry freely as if she knew I had a piece of what she was going through. Perhaps that’s my Mom being poetic but she’s said it enough that I thought I’d include it in my memories of that time.

“Your parents were there and Sharon and Greg and others. I can’t recall what was said but I do remember a touching moment when your Dad talked openly about how brilliant he thought Adam was. I don’t remember what else he said but I remember his eyes that day. It was like he had lost a best friend, not his grandson.

“While I was at your house I only wanted to see one physical thing of Adam’s- his poetry book. When his interest in writing poems was sparked as a result of assignments in his first semester liberal arts at The Boston Conservatory I bought him a blank green journal. I knew that he had completely filled this book with his writings so I was glad that we found it. Adam’s cousin Emily Demund took my Mom and me to Wal-Mart to photocopy every page. I still have these copies. They are in a file cabinet in the folder I have marked, ‘I’m so sorry you’ve been reduced to a file folder.’ I like to think that title would amuse him. There’s lots of things in there like caution tape, candy necklaces, newspaper clippings from high school and printouts of emails he sent to me. Emily was concerned about me, knowing how sweet Aleeta was. I knew where Adam was at this point in his life, so I knew her without ever meeting her, but I understood that Emily’s concern was valid under the circumstances. I also particularly remember Emily seeming to not know where she fit. She was obviously in a lot of pain over Adam’s passing, but where did a cousin fit in with so many who were suffering? It had seemed like Adam had spent most of his time in New Hampshire trying NOT to fit in with Emily’s friends despite all of Emily’s efforts to reach out to him.

“Later that day, you took me back to Adam’s room and gave me the huge stuffed puppy that was on his bed. It really didn’t leave my side for quite a while. Actually, it’s sitting under the window in my room right now.

“You had already set the date for the memorial service and on my way home I made the decision to sing and read for the service. I contacted Mr. Greco and asked him if he’d play the piano for me and he agreed to do it. He also spread the news to the people at Lexington Christian Academy.

“When I got home I found that David had been sent home from school. He had gone into school but partway through the morning he sought out Mr. Byrne, Groton High School’s drama teacher, who knew Adam very well. David told him about Adam’s death and Mr. Byrne said, ‘You can’t be here, you need to go home, David.’ The rest of that week he was excused from classes to sit in the computer lab and create the poetry books that were given out at the memorial service. David was really destroyed that week.”

Next chapter: The memorial service.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 168

A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” But that all changed as of January 9th 2001.

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 46
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16


“The Details.”

The annoying hospital chaplain was trying to usher us out of the hospital. How could we just leave Adam’s body in this hospital? We knew we had to, but it seemed so strange. Eventually we left. I don’t remember much from the rest of this day but here’s what I do remember. Once I got to my home, I called several of Adam’s friends to let them know about Adam’s death. At some point I spoke to the New Hampshire police and they told me what the truck driver who collided with Adam’s car had told them. He said, “The guy was slouched over in his car, as if he had fallen asleep, and he just drifted over into my lane. I blasted my horn but he didn’t respond and as I swerved to avoid him, he crashed into the side of my truck.”

Adam was killed instantly. I was relieved to learn that my son didn’t suffer.

The police asked me if the Honda Accord that Adam was driving had any mechanical problems that could have caused the accident but I explained that the car was in excellent condition. After the police fully investigated the accident they had the wreck towed to a local junkyard.

At some point, Mal’s sister Ginny and her husband Denis were told about the accident and without hesitation, they made arrangements with their employers, packed up their car, and began to drive the 1400 miles to be with Mal and I. Mal’s sisters Carol and Madeline made travel arrangements right away to fly from Georgia and Colorado to New Hampshire. My sister Sharon and her husband Greg arranged to pick up the relatives who were flying in to the Manchester, New Hampshire airport, even the ones who were arriving very late that first night.

People from our church brought food for us that afternoon. Lots of food, but we didn’t feel much like eating. When we were eventually left alone at our home we were in a daze. Mal and I went into Adam’s bedroom and for some reason we felt the urge to clean it. We packed two large trash bags full of trash and tried to straighten up his room by putting his clothes and shoes into the drawers and closet. We found the empty two-pound bag of pistachio nuts that we had given him for Christmas and a huge bowl of pistachio nut shells on the floor. We found several small notebooks full of Adam’s hand-written poetry. I suddenly realized that I had never read any of his poetry before. Now I’d never have the opportunity to share this with him. I shut off his computer and closed his bedroom door.

Our daughter, Cassy, had gone to a Bible study at a friend’s home and when she came home she went right to sleep. Mal’s sisters Madeline and Carol arrived very late that night. I couldn’t remember anything else that happened that night but recently Carol recalled:

“ I spoke with Madeline the other day and she confirmed that we arrived the night of Adam's death. I remember that her flight was coming in around the same time as mine and that Greg picked us up. I remember that when we arrived at your home...there were flowers and baskets everywhere for Adam (Your brother Jay had made some kind of wooden basket filled with gifts of handmade soaps and breads). There were also pictures all over the table of Adam. You both were horribly distraught and I remember thinking that I could hardly see Mal's eyes because she had cried so much. Mal took Madeline and I through the story of what had happened...and told us about the "Newport" kids.”

The next day, Mal’s sister Ginny and her husband Denis arrived and we told them the story of what had happened. My Mom and Dad came from Florida to be with us but since our house was getting crowded, my sister Sharon convinced them to stay at her house for the next week. Our pastor, Jim Morel, came over to discuss our thoughts about a possible funeral or memorial service. He guided us through the basics, using his experiences with past services and he was very helpful. Jim suggested that we consider hiring Wilkinson-Beane Funeral Home to handle the arrangements so I called and set up a time to meet with them. I don’t like funerals and I’ve always heard about the predatory practices of funeral homes. They take advantage of highly emotional, grief-stricken people to sell them services, caskets and burials that are primarily a waste of money. When my grandmother died a funeral home tried to pressure my mother into buying a deluxe casket with a “quality inner-spring mattress guaranteed for twenty years.” But this guy was different. He wasn’t emotional, but he was understanding and sympathetic. He listened to our thoughts and made very few suggestions. We weren’t ready to buy a casket but we came up with some rough ideas of the cost for a normal service. We’d try to come up with definitive plans over the next few days. He helped us write the obituary and he made sure it was published in the local New Hampshire newspaper and our old hometown of Bolton’s newspaper. It was an odd task to describe Adam’s life in such a short obituary. This is what we wrote:

“Adam Dean Howley, 21, died at the Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia on January 9, 2001, following a motor vehicle accident.
Mr. Howley was born October 10, 1979 in Framingham, Massachusetts, the son of Paul B. and Marilyn L. (Daher) Howley. He was a graduate of Lexington Christian Academy in Lexington, Massachusetts, and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He had been accepted for the spring semester at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island, as a theatre major. He starred in his first play at the age of five. He loved to sing and dance and he loved the theatre. He was very active in summer theatre and directed the play, “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” in the summer theatre in Groton, Mass. He also enjoyed spending time in Newport, Rhode Island. Mr. Howley had lived in Bolton, Mass. For 17 years and also lived in Boston, Mass. before moving to Gilford, New Hampshire a year ago. He had worked at Friendly’s Restaurant in Laconia since July. Mr. Howley was a member of the Trinity Church in Bolton, Mass. and the Laconia Christian Fellowship Church in Laconia. Survivors include his parents, Paul and Mal Howley, his sister Cassandra Howley of Gilford, his paternal grandparents John and Marion Howley of Bolton, Mass, and his maternal grandparents Richard and Helen Daher of Florida, 24 aunts and uncles, many cousins and great cousins, as well as his very close friends Alletta, Meridith, Phil, and Victor.”

Shortly after we got home from the funeral home, Meridith and her mother came up to visit. Meridith shared lots of very personal thoughts about Adam with us that touched us deeply. After a while, we all went into Adam’s room together. We wanted Meridith to take the large stuffed dog that she had shared with Adam and she appreciated it. We told her to take anything else that would be helpful for her but I don’t remember if she took anything.

After Meridith and her Mom left we got our mail. In it was a letter from the University of Rhode Island confirming that Adam had a room on campus for the upcoming semester. If the college had mailed the letter a few days earlier, Adam wouldn’t have had to drive down there to get the college to commit to assign him a room.

Next chapter: The memorial service.

Pictures: Adam's messy room

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 167

A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.”

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 45
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16


“In the blink of an eye” our lives changed.

Mal and I were on our way to The Lakes Region Hospital after the New Hampshire State Police officer came to our house and told Mal that Adam had been in a serious car accident. We had no idea how serious Adam’s injuries were so the short ride to the hospital seemed to take far too long. We pulled up to the Emergency Room entrance, jumped out of the car, and ran into the entrance.

“Hi…We were told that my son Adam Howley was brought in here by ambulance. Could you tell me where he is?”

“Let me check. Oh…I’ll be right back”, the receptionist said.

A few minutes later, the receptionist returned and asked, “Could you describe Adam for me? Does he have any tattoos or piercings?”

“No. He doesn’t have any tattoos…but he does have his ears pierced. Oh…he has one eyebrow pierced. Why are you asking this?”

“I’ll be right back,” she said (without answering my question)

When she returned she asked, “Are you sure he doesn’t have any other piercings?”

“I’m pretty sure, but I’m not positive. Please…we want to see our son.”

“Well, the doctors are working on him right now. I’ll go talk to the doctors.”

“Please…we want to see him now. How serious are his injuries?!”

“I’ll be right back,” she replied.

“If he’s still alive I want to see him right now,” I insisted.

She ignored me and walked away, apparently to talk to the doctors who were with Adam. A few minutes later she came back with a doctor who said, “I’m sorry, but Adam had severe chest trauma and there was nothing we could do.”
Mal’s legs buckled but I held her up. “Please…I want to see him,” I implored.

“Give us a few minutes to clean him up,” the doctor replied.

Mal and I stood in the hospital corridor, she in stunned disbelief, while I was trying to hold myself together, thinking that Mal would need me to “be strong.” While we were waiting, the hospital Chaplain approached us to offer his condolences. “Helluva way to go,” he said. “Was he an organ donor?”

“No…I don’t think he was. This isn’t a good time right now,” I suggested while Mal cried.

“Oh. Sure. If you change your mind let me know, okay?” he said.

I ignored him. I called my sister Sharon and told her, “Sharon, Adam was killed in a car accident.”

“Oh Paul, that’s a terrible thing to say…don’t even joke about that!” She said.

“I’m not kidding. We’re at the hospital right now.”

Sharon burst into tears.

About ten minutes later Sharon’s daughter Emily rushed into the hospital. She sat next to Mal, holding her, while Mal rocked back and forth saying, “Oh, Adam, oh Adam, my baby, my baby.”

It wasn’t long before several other friends came to comfort us including our pastor Jim Morel and his wife Pam, our neighbor Lisa DiMartino, Jim and Barbara Foote, Adam’s cousin Jesse DeMund, and Emily and Liz Verhoeks. I called the main office of Laconia Christian School and told Judy Downing about the accident. “Judy, could you please get Brenda Carney (the Drama teacher) to get Cassy out of her class and use our van to bring her and her cousin Jacob to the hospital. I don’t want Cassy to know what happened because she might be too upset to drive herself here,” I explained. Judy took care of it right away and I soon met Cassy at the entrance to the Emergency Room. We embraced and she cried before I brought her in to see Mal. The news of Adam’s death spread quickly, so it wasn’t long before several of the students from Laconia Christian School came to be with Cassy. As the crowd grew, the hospital Chaplain suggested that we all move to a different area of the hospital so he brought us to a more private room away from the reception area.

Someone from the hospital asked Mal and I if we’d want to see Adam. I was reluctant but I knew I had to. We held each other and went with Cassy into the room. Adam was lying on a table and he still had the tube down his throat the paramedics had put in to try to revive him. Even though the hospital staff had “cleaned him up,” he smelled like diesel fuel (spilled into his car from the dump-truck he collided with) and he had dozens of small, bloodied cuts on his once-handsome face. His forehead and left eye was bandaged, covering some of his most serious injuries. We touched his face and I was surprised at how cold his skin was. ( For the next several months I could still remember how this felt to me.) I ran my fingers through his bright-red dyed hair and I was shocked at how coarse it felt. I hadn’t really touched his head for several years and the frequent color changes must have damaged his previously soft hair. We stood there, mostly in silence, until my sister Sharon and her husband Greg asked if they could come to see Adam. We cried as they said goodbye to him.

At one point, when I left the room where Adam was in, the Chaplain approached me and asked, “Have you reconsidered donating his organs?”

“No, I’m not donating his organs. Don’t ask us again. You’re upsetting my wife.”

My memory is blurred around this time so I can’t be sure of the “order” of things, but at some point I went back to the hospital nurses station and asked if I could use the telephone again. I called my Dad and Mom in Florida. “Dad, Adam died today in a car accident.” My father replied with an unusual, sad sound, and he assured me that they’d fly up to be with us as soon as they could. Then I called Adam’s closest friend Meridith. When I told her what had happened she told me that she was sound asleep when I called and was having a dream that Adam had come to her and he explained that everything would be alright. I told her that I’d call her back later.

I called Adam’s current girlfriend, Aleeta, but looking back, I wish I had given the news to her mother so that she could break the news to Aleeta. I just blurted out, “Adam was in a car accident and he was killed.” She cried. “I’ll call you later to talk about it,” I promised.

I called Mal’s sister Madeline but she didn’t believe me. I insisted that it was true but I had to eventually put Cassy on the phone before Madeline really believed me. I think Madeline called the other family members to give them the awful news. I can’t remember who else I called while I was at the hospital, but I know the word got around quickly.

The hospital Chaplain came by and said, “Hey, we need that room now for other people. Are you almost done?”

Next Chapter: The details