I’ve been working on this post for weeks.
Why so long?
There are so many things I want to say, yet don’t know how to say them.
So many memories and no way to really describe everything I know and remember and don’t want to lose.
I don’t want to be a downer and I’m not trying to have a pity party, but I cannot be honest about anything today without posting about this.
Although I cannot believe it has been this long, today marks 10 years since one of my best friends and his mother passed away.
Marques and Antoinette Hampton were two of the most real people I have ever known. No need to put on shows or pretend they were something or someone they weren’t. They just were – content with who they were in God and in life and happy to be here. To share their gifts and their lives. To make a mark on everyone they came in contact with.
I only knew them for about 2 years before the accident, but it felt like so much longer. Marques made such an impact on mine and my family’s life and in such a short time. My life changed 3 weeks after I turned 16 when this happened.
Marques had been recruited to play football at Virginia Tech and had come up in July for orientation with his mom. They were on their way home when they were killed in a car accident on I-81, a dangerous highway here that has seen its share of tragedies.
I remember everything that happened the day we found out. I had bought a cd the night before, “No Boundaries”, which benefited the refugees in Kosovo. I just remember that all that day, the only song I listened to on that cd was Pearl Jam covering “Last Kiss”, the 1964 hit by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers.
I was at my friend’s grandparents’ house with my little sister, my friend Nick, his sisters Kelly and Steph, and their mom, Val. We were going to go swimming at their house when the phone rang. I remember Val getting the phone call and telling us and us sitting at their kitchen table crying.
I remember having to call my mom at work and tell her what had happened while I was crouched under their counter top, shaking.
I couldn’t call my older sister. My mom had to go over to her job and tell her in person.
This was also the first time I ever saw my Dad cry, I’m pretty sure. Sorry if you didn’t want people to know that Dad :) But that alone moved me.
Marques and his Mom meant just as much to the rest of my family and everyone else at church as they did to me.
That song was stuck in my head for weeks and I can’t listen to it now.
I didn’t want to eat anything for weeks after because everything made me sick.
I didn’t think I deserved to be here if they weren’t.
Little did I know I would be living less than an hour from where the accident happened. Driving on I-81 is bad enough already, but I hate having to pass by that spot every time we go visit Nick’s parents.
They were amazing.
It wasn’t their time.
His life was just starting and his mom was seeing her boys grow up into amazing men.
I went through a hard couple of years after that happened.
I guess it was just part of the grieving process, and that was the first time I had ever dealt with a loss in my life that wasn’t a great-grandparent.
This was someone I saw every week, often every day.
Someone who gave me advice.
Someone who gave the best cocoon hugs in the world.
Someone who was over at our house more than some of my actual family members.
Someone I would have never imagined I would lose.
But I am not in control of anything in this world.
I know who is, and I know that His plans are greater than my plans even when they don’t make sense.
Maybe their purpose here was done and they were ready to move on. After seeing all the people at the memorial service, I was amazed by how many people they touched in the short time we had them here.
They still show up in my dreams sometimes.
I think they’re telling me that it’s okay, that they’re okay. And that it’s okay for me to move on, be happy, and live my life.
That they’re still there in spirit, watching everyone they left behind.
Regardless of what happened, I am thankful for the 2 years I did know them and for everything they did in my life and how they affected me and still affect me today.
Maybe I ended up a Hokie because he didn’t get his chance – who knows.
I do know that I will proudly wear his #5 for the rest of my life.
And regardless of who is on the team that year, Marques and Antoinette make it into every single football program.
Marques and Antoinette, you are loved and missed.