Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Moments that change our lives...

There are moments in our lives that change everything.

Some of those moments are the most joyous things we will ever experience, others are the darkest and most devastating moments that we could ever go through.

Jeffrey Allen Mayfield died 7 years ago today.

While I have come to terms with the loss, I still feel the harrowing pain I felt that day. The loss of Jeff was huge not only for me, but for so many people; losing him had a ripple effect which left emptiness across an entire continent. His death effected everyone from his family to his friends, to his colleagues, and even his students. We were all spread from one side of the country to the other, yet we all felt this loss and pain together.

If you want to read more about Jeff's death, and the struggle, I wrote about it a year ago today here on the blog: http://lmgittings.blogspot.com/2009/04/6-years-have-passed.html ; here is a thread from boatertalk.com from the first responders: http://boatertalk.com/forum/BoaterTalk/372350

A few months after his death I had this dream where he came to me... it was such a vivid, raw, emotional dream. Jeff came to our house, like he always had. He walked in the door without knocking, into my living room where my mom and I were talking. He introduced himself to my mother, chatted for a few moments, smiled at me, and walked out. In this dream, I looked at my mother and began to cry. She looked at me like I was insane, all I kept repeating was, "Mom, that was Jeff." After I had said that about 10 times, she said "I know, he introduced himself." To which I responded, "But mom, he died, he is gone. That was JEFF!" I was doubled over in unbearable pain from the tears and grief, I couldn't breathe. I heard the door open and looked up to see Jeff walking in the front door, into my living room again, he walked over and hugged me. He held me close and told me "I'm OK, it is all OK. I'm OK." Then he left again.

I woke up from that dream a mess. I was barely able to breathe, my chest was contracting in spasms from my cries and screams; I was crying and choking, my pillow was soaked in tears... and I was able to feel his arms on me still. Somehow, even with the agony I was feeling, I knew it was all okay, and that he was fine, that we would all be fine.

I have thought of him a lot through the years, but I have never dreamed about him again.

Where has that 7 years gone? Why did something that brought us all together, something that we all found so fun and uplifting have to become tragic and deadly?

Our lives have changed dramatically since then. Some of the changes are directly related to his death, while other changes were indirectly related. The biggest changes are because of that day.

His death caused me to question my faith for a long time. I just didn't understand. I still don't, and probably never will. Carl has been my rock, and explained faith, God, and how it all ties together in a way that brought me back to my faith. His view and strength has given me some clarity and as much peace as is possible.

The wounds aren't as open and raw as they once were. I can talk about Jeff with a smile, I can remember more of the good, rather then just the tragic end. But I miss him. His death changed so much, for so many of us. Honestly, I don't think it is ever far from my mind.

I need to go back out to the Big Sandy, out to Splat, and to the Rock.

I haven't been back since the year after it happened. I took Rory (who was 3 months old) with me the first anniversary. It was a stark contrast to the days following his death. Rather than the sun and warmth, it was cold, and pouring rain. I went out early, to have time to be on the Rock by myself. The river was high, the highest I had ever seen it. Many of the rapids (including some 10+ft waterfalls had disappeared and were deadly river-wide holes and not "falls". As I hiked the path, the creeks began to come up quickly. I didn't stay long, I said my goodbyes and prayers quickly... and it was a good thing. I was hiking back to my Jeep when I came to the last creek. It had gone from ankle deep to knee deep and rushing. I fell twice with Rory on my back while I was crossing. Another 20 minutes and I wouldn't have made it back to the Jeep. I passed Jason on his way in as I was on my way out... they slept on the rock that night, in the rain and flooding.

My last memories of the Big Sandy were of a violent turning river... I want to see it again, with smooth clear green water, not the brown mud and white foam it was that day.

I want to remember it peacefully running, as something fun and beautiful.

I want to remember it the way it was before. I want things like they were before...

God, I miss him so much.

So much.

From Moments of Our Lives

From Moments of Our Lives

From Moments of Our Lives

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