Today marks exactly five years to the day since my friend Declan passed away following a road traffic accident. He was 14 years old. His death was an event that really affected me, making me aware of my own mortality and how undeserving people have their lives tragically cut short. It is also something that changed many people for the better. The celebration of his life was a fantastic opportunity to remember the good God who is keeping Dec safe in heaven for eternity and his sister was motivated to write wonderful music. Declan remains in my thoughts in many situations, when I am in awe and when I am distressed, and I want to pay tribute to him and those who nurtured him to become the wonderful person he was. This is something I did three years ago on After Scoliosis, but I feel like there is more that needs saying.
There are a select number of memories that I can replay vividly in my mind, including a number of events from that fateful weekend five years ago following Declan’s car crash. The Saturday morning when I discovered what happened the previous day. The Sunday evening when I came home from youth group to discover our prayers for his life hadn’t been granted. The Monday morning when I tried not to be angry during school at how things had turned out and how others had reacts. And the Tuesday afternoon when I stepped out of the hospital and felt guilty about being happy. Looking back it seems strange that we’d had little to no contact since leaving primary school as the impact that Declan’s life and death had on me was considerable.
Dec was always around at primary school. He was friendly and sensitive and I would bump into him a lot because our first names were adjacent in the register and so the trays where we kept books and other belongings were next to each other, I even remember that he sat at the front of our year 6 classroom next to the trays. He was gifted at music and excelled in our production of The Sound of Music, taking on the part of one of the children and singing Robbie Williams’ Angels (I cannot remember why that song was part of the play but it was so fitting). I know he kept up singing and playing the guitar up until he died, with the amazing ability to learn songs by ear, listening to his iPod on his paper round.
It was a Friday morning when the accident happened. He was only crossing the road, it was nobody’s fault, just bad timing and a blind corner. I still cannot drive normally past that spot and exercise extra care as a pedestrian, especially trying not to listen to music whilst walking because it knocks out one of your senses. I didn’t find out about the accident until the following morning and we prayed at home and at church on Sunday that Declan would survive, despite being in a critical condition in the local neurological hospital. Youth group was a struggle that evening and coming home I was greeted with the news, via Facebook, that Dec’s parents had bravely decided to turn his life support off. It took me around 10 minutes to process that our prayers hadn’t saved his life. It was only a few weeks later at the celebration of Declan’s life that we started to realise that God had other plans and touched hundreds of people through the celebration, held in a large marquee in a field in Hangleton. The Hubert’s story spread via Melissa’s beautiful music, including Voice In The Choir written about encouraging experiences surrounding her brother’s death, which she has blogged about. A DVD was also made about the circumstances and I am going to end this post with the moving trailer for that.
There are few people who have touched my life as much as Declan has, we continue to miss you Dec and look forward to reuniting in heaven, where I’m sure you will be the first to introduce us to Jesus. Your family are an inspiration and you have not been forgotten.