A TRIBUTE TO ANDREW & JARRETT BURKHOLDER
On March 3, 2003, our children were involved in a fatal automobile accident. Yes, they were wearing their seatbelts. No, they weren't drunk or high on drugs when they crashed. As they were coming home from school, Andrew started to fishtail on an icy patch of road and lost control of his car. It's called an accident because it's not an on-purpose. The lady who ran into them didn't plan on running into my children. It was an accident. You've heard it before, ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. Jarrett died immediately and Andrew died two days later in the hospital. Our lives changed forever at 2:40 p.m. March 3, 2003. Never again to be the same. Sometimes it seems like it happened yesterday, and other times it seems like it happened a million years ago.
My life now is totally different, weird, strange, eerily quiet without my rambunctious boys and also very, very lonesome. For their entire lives, I was here every day taking care of them. I called them Cain and Abel because they loved to fight. At times, I am positive they did it just to drive me nuts! It still stuns me that they're BOTH gone. We had a rule that you couldn't ask WHY questions. So, I can't ask WHY did my children die? Why did Jarrett ride home with Andrew? I can't ask WHY didn't I encase them in bubble wrap? Why didn't I know this was going to happen so I could do something differently? What could I have done? I have to trust that God knows what's going on, otherwise, I would have lost my mind already. That's faith, I guess. But this past year hasn't been easy.
If anyone has read this far in my tribute to the boys, I'm going to tell you a story that is at once incredulous and at the same time incredibly comforting. When the boys' grandpa, Glen Burkholder, died on January 14, 2002, we were glad that we had seen Grandpa two weeks before when we traveled to Florida for Christmas vacation. For some reason, the boys got along very well on the trip and didn't complain much. It was basically uneventful (meaning no fights) and as we look back, grateful for the fact that we had seen Grandpa one more time, and he seemed to be doing quite well.
Grandpa was to be buried in Illinois, so his body was flown back for the visitation on Friday and the funeral on Saturday. While the boys were at school on Friday, I put together family photos remembering Glen Burkholder's life. At some point in the late morning, I realized that I didn't have a suitable coat. I drove to Stein Mart in St. Charles and bought the perfect coat. Long and black with a hood and on sale. As I got back in my car after purchasing the coat, I realized that I was NOT alone. Grandpa's spirit was sitting in the front seat next to me. Now, you might ask me, "How did you know it was Grandpa?" Well, two weeks before while we were in Florida, I drove to the Olive Garden and that's where Grandpa sat - in the front seat next to me! He was there once again, but this time he was invisible.
He just sat there and was as happy as he could be. I was ecstatic that he had come to comfort me but obviously, I couldn't tell anyone. People might wonder, "Are you nuts?" and "Why would he come to see you?" I guess because I've always believed that though our bodies die, our souls don't die. I mean, really, really believe it!! We go somewhere else. You can call it whatever you want. It doesn't really matter to me. After you lose two children in one fell swoop, you have to find something that makes sense. No one can really tell you WHAT to believe. It's either there inside you or it isn't. I didn't tell anyone for a long, long time about Grandpa's visit. When I did, no one really believed me anyway. But, I didn't care. Grandpa was around for about 3 days off and on and then he was gone as quickly as he had come.
Andrew, Grandpa Burkholder, Jarrett
After the boys died, I called my friend, Carol, who is a psychic. She communicated with the boys' spirits and they told her to tell me that they were very proud of me and that they had come to earth to be my teachers. And they did teach me that God loves us all unconditionally and forgives us. Those two little weasels tried my patience every day of my life, but I loved them more than I can tell you and I always, always forgave them. She also told me that when they died, Grandpa Burkholder was there to meet them. That explanation made it clear why Grandpa had come to visit me after he died. Andrew's spirit tried to get back in his body, but Grandpa told him that it was time to go. The body was battered but his spirit was not, could not and would never be broken. But I've always believed that our children are gifts from God, and He chose to take mine back home again using grandpa as their guide to heaven.
This past December (2003), the boys' Uncle Bob was very sick. He had a host of maladies and had lived tethered to his oxygen for the past year. He didn't have long to live. That Friday, I talked to both of our nieces and they said that everyone was at the hospital in Rochelle. I told them we would be there after my Bob got home from work. We drove to Rochelle quietly talking about Bob and his struggles but assuming that he would get better. He was an incredibly gifted gardener, and I figured he had to get out to his garden in the spring. After we got to the hospital, we went to the waiting room. Could I go and see him? Sure. I walked in and Krissy was in the room. I asked how he was doing, and she gave me the latest update. Then, she told me the incredible part of this story. The night before, Uncle Bob had been hallucinating all night. He saw monkeys behind the Christmas tree and big spiders on the walls. THEN, he said, "I see two boys outside looking in the window at me." At first, I didn't realize what she said and what it meant. Then, she told me again. Don't you get it? Andrew and Jarrett had come to help their uncle - the father of their two favorite cousins (KrissyKaren) on his journey to heaven. What good boys! An act of kindness - an act of love.
Jarrett and Andrew Burkholder - our sweet, precious boys. God bless them. Forever in our hearts!
It doesn't matter whether you believe me or not. I'm not trying to get anyone to think like I do or be like me because I have my own journey which only I can go on. But I do know that those two guys came to earth for a reason, whatever it was and however I choose to interpret it, and I'll never, ever forget them and I'll always and forever love them to the depths of my soul. I miss them every single day and every single minute that they've been gone, and as I write this I'm crying because I'm so very, very sad. But when I die, I'll be reunited with them. I certainly would never take my own life so don't worry about that. But, I won't be sad when it's my time to go because how could I be when I get to see Jesus and Andrew & Jarrett and Grandpa & Uncle Bob and all the other ones I've loved on earth. It was an honor to be their mother. I know they didn't make it easy for me, but they taught me love and isn't that the point of all this? Love one another as I have loved you. God bless you all, djb
Andrew waving bye bye to his mama. Jarrett waving bye bye to his mama.
Andrew on his way to school waving to his mom. Jarrett on his way to school waving to his mom, too.
Love you mom, see ya later... Love you mom, see ya later...
BYE SWEET BOYS, I LOVE YOU, TOO.
SEE YA LATER.