Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Oldest Son Is Dead.

Billy Matthew Karnes was born on April 19, 1988. He died in a pick-up truck yesterday, May 30, 2009. He was always angry. He was always hurting. He was plagued with self-doubt. He was one of the saddest people I ever knew. When he was 4 years old he asked me why I loved his little brother more than I loved him. It was a shocking question. And nothing I ever did could convince him that I loved him. And nothing I ever did for him was good enough. He resented and was embarrassed by my poverty. On his thirteenth birthday I bought him a a Ralph Lauren tie. I did it because when he was a very little boy he used to beg me to let him wear my ties and I always said, when you're a teenager I'll buy you a tie. But after I left his and his mother's house, I was told this later, he threw a tantrum and wrecked his room. The more I did for him the more he fed me dirt sandwiches. So, eventually, when he was 16, I stopped asking him to visit. I kept writing to him, though. He never answered a letter. Never called on the phone. But I loved him. I remembered bringing him home from the hospital, him taking naps on my chest. I remember his first stitches from falling and breaking his mouth open on a door jamb. I baptized him in my Aunt Nettie and Uncle Fred's pool when he was 8. I wasn't Orthodox at the time but we used the Nicene Creed as a guide for talking about the Faith before he went under the water. Do I have regrets? Almost more than I can bear. The list of errors I made as his father is a terrible and long indictment. When he got out of the Army in January he didn't tell me where he was going. In fact, I didn't know he was out of the Army until I got worried enough (I hadn't heard anything from him in more than a year) to write to his Sergeant Major. I only learned a couple of weeks ago that he was in California, working on a cattle ranch. It took me a few days to decide whether or not to call him. Finally, I did. That was last Tuesday. I left a message at the ranch office for him. On Thursday he called me. He said, "Dad, this is Billy. I'm just calling to tell you not to call me anymore." Then he hung up. Now, three days later, he is dead, his pick up truck rolled over on him. I talked to his pastor about an hour ago - I have a funeral to arrange. He said Billy had been going to church. I've missed Billy for so many years. I've had dreams of him joining me in the rental property business, or maybe if I bought ag land he could run a cattle operation on it for me, since he has the experience. Now it looks like I am going to be missing him for many more years.

10 comments:

DebD said...

Matt, words are inadequate at such moments of grief. Prayers for you, the family and for the repose of your son, Billy.

Tom said...

Our sympathy to you and your family. I cannot imagine the depth of grief nor do I want to. So sorry Matt.

Elizabeth said...

Matt,
I cannot begin to imagine your pain and grief at the loss of your son.
Memory Eternal to Billy.

I will keep you all in my prayers.

Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy

Mimi said...

Dearest Matt, I am typing this through tears. I know how much you loved Billy, and that love will always endure.

My prayers that his Memory be Eternal. Hugs and love.

Dave said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss and your grief.

May Billy's memory be eternal.

Randy said...

Matt, I can't fathom the grief you must be going through. You were grieving before he died; how much more now...

Please remember how much some people are out of touch with their feelings, or mask them. It doesn't mean they lack love, it just means the love lies under the surface. Billy's last thoughts might have been a wonderful memory of something you did with him...

You both will be in my prayers.

In Christ,

Subdeacon Randy

Philippa said...

I stand mute in the face of your darkest suffering my brother in Christ. May our most precious and Holy Theotokos wrap you in her veil of comfort and love.

May our merciful God grant peace and repose with the Saints to your precious son, Billy.

Memory eternal!

Michelle M. said...

I'm coming to you for the first time from Elizabeth's blog. I am so sorry for your loss. May Lord have mercy.

Mary Poppins NOT said...

I also am coming from Elizabeth's blog. My deepest sympathies to you, and may Billy's Memory be Eternal!

Anonymous said...

Matt, I am Johnny's sister Shawna. My oldest is now 19, I can't imagine the pain your going through. I was so happy to see that you love the lord and I know he will be with through this. Also please remember that we all fall short where our children are concerned and there comes a time where you have to take your hand away and let them do as they will just as the lord does with us. Children tend to blame their parents for their problems until one day they can take responsibility for themselves. I believe with all of my heart that you did all you could given the situation. Your in my prayers and please feel free to email me if you would like.

-Shawna
shawnadunne@comcast.net