Sunday, June 9, 2013



When I was 16 years old, one of my classmates was killed.  He and another boy on a motorcycle were hit by a truck and they both died instantly.  This was 30 years ago and we have lost more classmates since then than we should have at our young age, but Jeff was first.  His death hit us the hardest.  It took us a long time to get past it and for the remainder of our high school life, we kept Jeff with us, insisting that he have a memorial page in the yearbook and that in his memory, be our moment of silence on graduation night.

Today, after the dinner we gave our parents to celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary, Ami, Brian and I decided to go on one of our adventures.  They had gone out Garden Valley way last weekend on a photo shoot and I was just willing to go anywhere that had a dirt road.  We ended up at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church that not only has a dirt road but the most beautiful corn fields beside it as well as a cemetery to explore.  And they mentioned something about a pond.  So we walked around, watched the sun set over the church and scratched a few photo scavenger hunt items off our list.  Since it was starting to get dark, we thought we'd go try to find the pond and then leave for home.  We started walking over that way with me a few footsteps ahead when I literally walked up on Jeff's grave.  I wasn't expecting it.  I didn't even remember that he was buried there but a few seconds of clearing cobwebs brought my memory back and Pleasant Grove rang a painful bell.  I said, "Oh my God, that's Jeff" and immediately started to cry.  I was just caught so off guard that my emotions just took over.  Ami asked if I was okay and I was, I asked her if she remembered what happened and she did.  Brian didn't so I told him and told them both that I remembered Mama waking me up that Saturday morning, telling me she'd heard it on the Montezuma radio station.  I remember saying to her, "But I just saw him at school yesterday."  Well, he had also died yesterday.

After I told him hey and that we were 46 years old now and that we never forgot him, I took a picture of his grave and we walked on down to the pond, with me still crying.  I've been very emotional lately.  Comes with being almost 46 and hormonal, I think.  We took a few pictures down there and then turned to walk back to our cars.  Ami then noticed a bright white light directly over the church.  It was like a spotlight, right in the middle of all that gray darkness.  She said, "That's Jeff, telling you hey!" so I said hey back to him.  :)

We stood there in awe as we watched that light move over the tops of the trees, over his grave and slowly ease out into a clearing, where we saw the most beautiful, amazing, incredible second sunset.

There is no camera in this world that could do justice to what we experienced but we tried.  Here are the pictures I took during it.

The sky turned completely blue again and we just stood there in awe of it, me and Ami both in tears.  It was the most beautiful, peaceful, spiritual experience I think I've ever had and we immediately recognized it for what it was.  I was nostalgic, crying over the loss of a classmate 30 years ago and he was letting me know that he's okay and that he's been okay for 30 years.  I thank God for letting me be there, right then, in that spot, to see that.  I've never seen a second sunset and Ami even commented that she and Brian have photographed many, many sunsets and have never seen one like that.  We were speechless.  The streaks coming straight down from heaven were my favorite.  I just wish my camera could have done it justice.

Speaking of my camera, this is pretty wild, too.  My camera's battery had been going dead since we got there, before I even stumbled onto Jeff's grave, but it still let me take all these pictures.  Even with the little red light flashing.  It's never done that before.  Crazy.  Thank you, Lord, for that, too!!

Jeff is forevermore 16 years old.  He'll never have gray hair or wrinkles or arthritis in his knees or any of the aches and pains that his classmates are starting to experience now.  He's forever the goofball he was 30 years ago.  And he's okay.  

Continue to rest in peace, old friend.  We'll see you again someday!


  1. that shirt was red. like you i was in shock and i remember momma calling to tell me b/c she didn't want me finding out from someone else. i remember that smile and the quirky sense of humor. we went to pleasant grove church together. i watched the sunsets out there a lot of times with jeff--usually because i was the one that had the cigarettes and he wanted to smoke but not where he daddy could see him. such a character. he and scott were funny,crazy, aggravating and great friends. they were absolutely guaranteed to make you laugh or drive you crazy trying not to laugh at them.

  2. That is so touching and I am happy you had those moments with Jeff. Love you.

  3. Ginger, Jeff was my nephew, my sister's oldest son. Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone and for the beautiful words and pictures.

  4. Ginger, I have cried my eyes out reading this and seeing your pictures. Jeff, my son was and will always be a treasure to me. I miss and love and him so much and thank you for remembering him and posting this. I will print it out and save it always. Thanks again for something so beautiful and touching and the experience you had. I go there often and talk to Jeff and can feel the closeness and love.
    Thanks again.

  5. Brenda ShoemakerJune 9, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Jeff was my cousin Joyce's son... I think his first crush was on my daughter, Lisa... he will always be so very special to us too.

  6. Jeff's Aunt LydiaJune 9, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    Ginger, You will never know what your words mean to our family. I, too, am a sister of Jeff's Mama and will never forget that horrible time in all our lives. Thank you for remembering him in such a sweet, touching way. Thank you for letting us remember that Jeff is OK and from his heavenly home, he can help God make the sunsets. We will never forget him and will always love and miss him too.

  7. Jeff's Aunt LydiaJune 9, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    Ginger, I just want to thank you for remembering Jeff in such a sweet and touching way. Thank you for the pictures and reminding us that Jeff is and, has been, OK. I, too, am a sister of Jeff's mama and will never forget that tragic weekend 30 years ago. Jeff is now in his heavenly home helping God with those beautiful sunsets over an area that he loved so much. Thank you for sharing your post with all of us.

  8. Kim, Jeff's cousinJune 9, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    Ginger...I am Jeff's first cousin. The day Jeff died was at that point the worst day of my life. A huge, special and sweet part of our family died with him that Friday night. Our family has never been the same. There is always that empty chair at family gatherings. I've wondered so many times what would have become of Jeff...I've tried to picture him married, his children, his life now... but as you said, he'll be forever young. Thank you so much for these sweet, comforting words. It's good to know that his friends still haven't forgotten him. Blessings to you and your family!

  9. Ginger, I am Jeff's cousin as well. Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone and his family. It means the world to us.

    Ginger Thompson/cousin

  10. Ginger, I stop by Jeffs grave site a couple of years a go. He was really a great person. I often wondered just what he would be doing nowadays. We use to go hunting at his uncle ricks house outside Ideal. Haddock fun in them days. Sweet story you have shared for such a sweet person. He is missed daily. I know all of his classmates think about him often, his personality was that strong. Once again thanks for helping me remember ole friends still then and now.
    Bill Kitchens

  11. Ginger, Jeff was a very close friend growing up, I have a lot of great memories of Jeff. I remember spending the night over at his house, going to the movies and riding dirt bikes on the dirt roads/ lot of fun. I also remember playing on the dirt roads where Paula Woodruff, and Lee Oliver lived which Lee has past away recently. I know it had to be diffucult for the family, my Dad's Brother was also killed on a motorcylcle not far from where Jeff accident happened when he was 10 years old (I was named after him "Kenny"). Thanks for Posting this helps bring back a lot of good memories. I like what Bill said "remember ole friends still then and now" RIP Jeff.
    Kenny Bearden