The last thing I saw before I shut my eyes the night before, a notification that said “bbyrge liked your photo”. When I open my eyes in the morning my husband is on the phone. I hear, “Bryan was killed in an accident…Dad are you sure?” I look into my husbands eyes and find the answer there before it ever reaches his mouth. Faces flash through my mind. My sister. My nephews and niece. His mother. His father. His brother. Bryan. As the sun is rising many hearts are sinking.
Why is it that the questions always come more quickly than the answers? Who, what, when, where, why and ALWAYS how? Who? Bryan Byrge and his friend John Coons. What? They were struck by a truck while riding their bikes…they’re both gone. When? Six’o clock this morning as they were cycling to work. Where? On Redwood Road in Lehi, Utah. Why…did this happen? I don’t know. How…is this possible? I don’t know!
My husband and I scramble to get to our loved ones. No matter how much our hearts hurt we can’t leave them in San Francisco, as broken as they are we hope the pieces can be of use in Utah. While flights are delayed hands are idle so we google his name. When articles end and questions are still unanswered, eyes wander to the comments for comfort. Only to find commotion.
Do they know that two lives have come to an end, as they sound off in the comments and quickly hit send? I don’t know. As they bicker and banter about bikers and fault. Do they care that this is what the children will see when they google their dads? I don’t know. Do they know that while they are reading newspapers wives and mothers, fathers and children, brothers and others are writing obituaries? I don’t know. Do they know that there was supposed to be a third rider that day, who heard of the crash and panicked and prayed and delivered the news of the loss of two precious lives to two distraught wives? I don’t know.
Do they know that a father was on the runway when he heard the frantic cries of his only daughter who has already lost her mother and now has to deliver the news to her only daughter that she has lost her father? I don’t know. Do they know that fathers don’t live through Vietnam so that they can come home to bury their sons on American soil? I don’t know. Do they know what it’s like for children who sang, “I’m so glad when Daddy comes home”, but Daddy never does? I don’t know. Or a wife who wears her husbands shirts just to breathe his scent? Or a mother who lost her first born, the very one who made her a mother, and a brother, his best friend? I don’t know.
And friends and family and neighbors who gather, who wonder what can I do? What can I say? Is there anything more I can do than just pray? Do they know about them? I don’t know. Do they know the last time that we told him that we love him? His loved ones are desperately trying to remember…maybe they know, but I don’t know if they do. What do these strangers making comments know? They know speculation. When they should know commiseration. What do they know? They know nothing.
And what do I know? What if my nephews and niece ask me, why? I don’t know why, though I want to. What if they ask me, how? How will I ever survive, how long will it hurt, how long will I cry? I don’t know.
When we don’t know sometimes the comfort is in what we know. So what do I know. I know that Bryan loved his family. I know because I heard him tell them regularly. I know that he thought his wife was HOT. I know because he said it often and I watched the children blush. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was of the utmost importance in his life. I know because the last things I witnessed him do was baptize his daughter and ordain his youngest sons. I know God lives. I know Christ is our comforter. I know that families can be together forever.
Bryan Byrge loved the Lord, loved others and loved life. This I know.
In memory of my brother Bryan Byrge,
Sista Laurel [Zandra Vranes]