Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You've heard of hunting accidents?

How would you have handled this? I was at a loss.

There's a group of you, all sitting at home basking in the afterglow of a sumptuous meal, reminiscing about days gone by, one or two snoring. You've got a mother and father of an only child, the child's grandparents are there, there are aunts and uncles and even a few cousins all feeling fat and lazy. The day was going very nicely and the furthest thing from any ones mind was catastrophe.

The only child, let's call him Jeff, had finished his meal and decided to take in a few hours of the remaining daylight and go and do some hunting. Jeff was in his early twenties and had been hunting with his dad since he was about 14 years of age, he knew the woods and he knew the protocol. He had already bagged two does earlier in the season; for the most part he was a seasoned hunter.

Jeffs father was the one who answered the telephone and the conversation went something like this: "oh, hi Jeff....Jeff, whats wrong?...pause.. What are you talking abou...pause...Where are you!....pause....okay, I'll be right there, stay on the phone and talk to your mother." During this whole conversation you can imagine how all of those in earshot of this end of the conversation perked up. "What's wrong, what's going on, what happened!!?" At this point he handed the phone to Jeffs mother and took off. Jeffs father and an Uncle jumped into a truck and headed to their stand.

At the end of this summer Jeff and his father built a tree stand at a location where they always frequented to hunt. No one is entirely sure whether Jeff was coming down from the stand or if he had just gone up but he was either lifting or lowering his gun with a rope when it discharged. The round hit him in the wrist causing him to lose his balance and he fell to the ground just below the stand. When he had called his dad on his cell he explained that he was having trouble breathing; he thought he may have broken a rib in the fall.

They parked on the road by the stand and immediately entered the woods calling his name. No response. When they came upon Jeff he was laying there with his eyes closed and his phone to his ear. His left wrist was obviously shattered and there was some blood. They called his name, they shook him, and they could hear his mothers voice faintly over the phone saying his name over and over as it fell from his hand.

The shot that hit Jeffs wrist had also pierced his chest about an inch to the right and just below his left nipple. Everyone seems to think that he never realized that he had been hit in the chest and what he thought was a broken rib was actually the bullet wound. Jeff died that day laying in the woods talking to his mother on the phone. His wrist was not the only thing shattered that day.

This was one of those freak accidents that take the lives of people every day. Jeffs mother and father were more than shattered. They had lost their "big" baby and could not understand how their god could let something like this happen.

At the funeral home his mother was a literal wreck. It was obvious by her bloated face and swollen eyes that she had been doing nothing but sobbing, trying to understand all that happened. Her husband and some family members were there to hold her up but it did no good since they all seemed to be in a similar condition.

When they first saw Jeff in his casket several of them literally fell to the floor and just started heaving. Jeffs mother had to be almost carried out of the funeral home. His father could only repeat "I thought I taught him better". I hope that the time doesn't come when his mother finally hears her husband say this and blame him; it was not his fault and I tried to tell him this.

There's no need to tell you the size of the visitation or the funeral, suffice it to say it was tremendous...and horrible. When I stand off in the distance watching a family and feel tears well in my eyes I know that they're in pain because I too feel it. I'm supposed to be this stoic person who is a professional and knows how to stifle emotions....all I can say is there are times when it is entirely out of my control and this was one of those times.

This one really grabbed at me and I need to try to forget it.


paisley said...

certainly a tragic event,, and one that will rarely touch any of our lives,, so thank you for making me think,, or should i say to know,, things like this can happen to anyone at any time....

i am saddened by the fact that people who "believe in god" have to suffer the additional pain and abandonment of their god at a time like this...

just me thinkin'.....

Catherine said...

I would have stood there sobbing. I think that you did very well.

Seriously, I don't know how you do your job. It must be so very difficult. I greatly admire you.

I am at a loss for words...

Matty said...

Good just never know when it's your time! This post reminds us not to take anyone for granted.

Hungry Ghost said...

Holy Mother of Macy's - what a tale. I'm off to bed, but I doubt I'll sleep.