November 22, 2008: The Haze, life after death

Written by Jeffrey L Tucker on November 22nd, 2008

November 22, 2008: It’s been slow progress but has at least given me a distraction – Jordan’s tribute site is up:
JordanTucker.com

Thank you to all who sent cards, tributes, emails and came to pay their respects at Jordan’s visitation and funeral. I have no idea how many were at the church Thursday night for his funeral. It was the most the church had ever held according to long-time members and the pastor. It required traffic control from the police and took several hours for folks to be able to exit. Overflow folks had to stand in the lobby, foyer, and sit in rooms that had speakers to hear the service. It was harder than I thought it would be, at least the first half of the service. I thought the hardest part would be Wednesday night at 4pm. My ex-wife had requested that we each have 15 minutes alone with Jordan prior to the start of the family visitation time period. And so at 4pm, November 19, 2008, I had 15 minutes to tell Jordan everything we’re all too busy to tell our loved ones, or too proud. He lay in the clothes he wore to school, his favorite Duke sweatshirt, his red hat. It was a very long walk from door to where he lay. Though I knew better, I did as I had always done when standing in the doorway as my kids slept – I listened for his deep, peaceful breathing. I have always found my own peace in listening to theirs. There was no sound. His peace was now found far from where I stood.
I only needed one minute for the really important part. I’ve always believed in telling my kids I loved them, even now when they’re at the age that they’re too cool to tell me that back. The rest of our talk…the rest I hope you never have to experience. 14 minutes is both an eternity and blink of an eye in the same time frame. Just like your children’s lives are.

Over 600 people came to see Jordan Wednesday night. They tell me the line went on for hours, out the visitation area, down the hall, out the door, down the block. I don’t remember. We had areas set up of his life – pictures. His many jerseys. His “secret” journals – he was a ‘lister’ – someone who listed everything – his goals in life, all the fish he’s caught, game plays. In 2016 he was going to be his school’s soccer coach. The hypothetical games they played that year were there. They did very well for a first time high school soccer coach named Jordan Tucker. In a sitting area there was a 20 minute video of Jordan’s life set to music. I mostly stayed there. People said things to me. People hugged me. People shook my hand. People were sorry. People blended into tears. If you talked to me thank you. I don’t remember.

My brother took me out to the truck for a cigar. Jordan’s candlelight vigil was scheduled at 8pm. They arrived in droves, parents dropping off, carloads of teens, a non-stop flow. They gathered early, sitting on the floor. Waiting. At 8pm we were led into the chamber – 300 mostly teens, from 6 separate high schools sat in silence. We all sat on the floor. Memories were shared. The kids made an aisle down the middle. Family walked down the aisle, lighting the candles in silence. Out into the foyer and lobby areas where overflow people sat or stood. We sat in silence in the candle glow, some looking down, some looking at Jord in his casket. It was announced we could blow out our candles whenever we felt. Nobody felt like moving. I don’t know how long passed. He came in again and announced this was the end of the service but we could stay as long as we’d like. They turned the lights up, they opened the doors. And still we all sat. At some point family blew out their candles. At some point I was leaning over Jordan and telling him “Goodnight pal, I love you Jord.” I looked at the room as I was led out. Around half of the kids were still there, still in place in most cases. Most still had their candles lit. All that I saw were crying, men, women, boys, girls. That’s all that I saw.

Thus, I thought that would be the hardest part. I was wrong. The hardest part came Thursday night. The hardest part is when they lead you back into the church to say “goodbye.” Up until that point you feel that you have cried most of your tears. You have felt the most blinding searing pain you could have already felt in the days prior and thus you have no more to experience. And you are very, very wrong. It can’t be described, at least not by me. I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. You say goodbye, goodnight, I love you to your little boy for the last time on this earth. The next time you see him, the box is closed. A preacher talks, others talk. You’re standing in the cold after having watched the 8 pallbearers – 8 closest friends and family, and the 60 honorary pallbearers who asked to stand with him load him into a black hearse. You stand until someone is saying you should go in because of the cold. There are crowds everywhere. People trying to leave. People trying to stay. People are saying things to you. People are trying not to look at you. You’re arranging what to do with all the flowers after. You’re finally in your vehicle and away from people. Two days have passed and I’m typing. This is one of the points where the haze is a little lower than my vision. I’m grateful to God for The Haze. The shroud of shock that protects us when something incomprehensive or so unfair as to not be fathomable has struck. Without it, we would not survive the pain. While Jordan’s loss could test the faith of people in a benevolent God, the protective haze reaffirms it. It is protective arms or wings wrapped around your mind and spirit.

Again, thank you to those who came to be with us. Thank you all for your prayers. Kathi has tried to read me cards through The Haze. It’s too early for me to want to hear. Most of you have said it as it is: “There are no words…” You’re right. There aren’t. There are memories, there is pain, there is anger, there is hurt…at 4pm Wednesday there was excruciatingly loud silence… And thank God there is haze.

Jordan’s last voicemail home, letting Barb know where he was going after school, 11/14/2008

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