I’m sorry.

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so sorry. When you lose someone you love, these words come to you from all different directions. Those who knew your loved one, and those who didn’t, offer these words as their condolences. They don’t know what to say, sometimes they don’t know what to do. And when it’s a child that you have lost, what can they say? Honestly, there are no words. I’m sorry, and a hug….really just a hug, is all that we need sometimes. I am sorry too. I’m sorry that I lost my son. I’m sorry that my heart will never be whole again. I’m sorry that it was him and not me. I’m sorry that he had to lie there without me for minutes that probably seemed like an eternity. I’m sorry that those who should have rendered first aid to my son, didn’t. I’m sorry that man wasn’t looking. I’m sorry that they wouldn’t let me ride in the ambulance with my son. I’m sorry that when  I screamed Cole’s name in the hospital, he didn’t answer. I’m sorry that the doctor came in…..and told my family, “I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry that I have to live the rest of my life without my son. I’m sorry that my family’s hearts are torn in two. I’m sorry that my oldest son lost his best friend. I’m sorry that I will never see Cole graduate high school, get married, or have children of his own. I’m sorry that not only did we lose our son, but we lost all of the hopes and dreams that we had for him. I’m sorry that I’m still here. I’m so sorry. So very sorry.

But are you? Are you, the driver who wasn’t looking and pulled in front of my son, are you sorry? Do you know how many countless nights I lie awake in bed, praying that my son will visit me in a dream? Because that’s the only place that I can see him now? Do you know that I think of my son every second, of every minute of every hour of the day? Do you know that my soul suffers excruciating pain because a piece of my heart died that day also? Do you know this?

Here’s the problem. I don’t know if you know. I don’t know if you think of my son, if you lie awake at night….I don’t even know if you saw my son that day as he lie on the street. I don’t know how you feel. I don’t know if you are remorseful, if you carry guilt, or if you...are sorry. It’s two words, that I long to hear from you. Somehow, someway, I have to know. I have to know how you felt, how you’re feeling….I have to know, if you remember my son.

 

I love you Cole. Forever and always, until we are together again,

Love mom

The Truth

 

Some days I struggle to stand…to open my eyes…to take a breath, without you. Some days I beg that God calls me home. I’m your mom. I need to be with you. I’m supposed to protect you, to love you, to guide you. I wasn’t there at that moment. I wasn’t there. I would have thrown myself in front of that car Cole. If only I could go back.

What really happened that day? For those who seek to know the truth…and for those who assumed they knew, here is the truth. The entire crash was captured on surveillance video from the National Geospatial Agency. We have viewed the video. Cole was traveling northbound on Vogel Road in the right lane. There was no car in front of him.  A vehicle was traveling southbound on Vogel Road turning left onto Depot Road.  As the two vehicles approached the intersection, Cole’s traffic signal was solid green.  Cole had the right of way through the intersection.  The driver turning left, who admittedly “wasn’t looking”, was obligated by law to yield to oncoming traffic.  He did not yield.  Cole did everything he could to save his life but as the driver rolled through the turn and heard my son, he looked up and stopped, subsequently blocking the intersection.  This left nowhere for my son to go and no time for him to stop. Cole was not traveling 100 mph, 90, 80, 70 mph…..and for those who passed along information that he was, I implore you to research what happens to the human body when it collides with a stopped vehicle at these speeds. I was at the crash scene. I saw my son lying in the street. He looked angelic. He was whole. There were no visible injuries except for a broken ankle.  Cole’s fatal injury was to his head.  His helmet failed him.  His other injuries were not life threatening. His eyes looked as though he was staring at something beautiful, and he undoubtedly was. Jesus carried my son home that day. God needed him. Cole now resides where I long to be.

To the two girls who claimed to be “witnesses” and in fact arrived after we left the crash scene, you should be ashamed.  You were not there out of concern but out of curiosity and you should research the definition of slander. This is what you have done.

To the police officers who dismissed, ridiculed and mocked my 17 year-old son’s death, you disgust me.  My son’s life mattered.  We lost our reason for living that day and these officers couldn’t muster the energy to perform their due diligence.  There were no life saving methods used on my son at the scene by you.  You treated his crash and his life as an inconvenience.  When I questioned why the driver’s blood had not been sent to the lab for toxicology testing after 96 DAYS in storage you stated to me that “our timeline isn’t your timeline” and “it’s not the quicky mart”.  You told me my son’s crash photos were “gross”.  You referred to his death as “crap”.  You held on to blood evidence because you were busy with “vacations” and “holidays” and because after all, “it doesn’t go bad like cottage cheese or 2% milk”.  I’m quite certain if it were your son that had died, you would have sent the blood sample within the typical 24-hour period to be tested while it was still viable.  Your lack of diligence to process evidence in a timely manner may have jeopardized the quality of the toxicology results from a repeat DWI offender with a 2 year interlock sentence and prior drug charges. You added insult to injury by citing my son for all contributing factors to the crash.  You couldn’t gather the energy to give the other driver a citation for FAILURE TO YIELD because “It would raise more questions.”  Where is the accountability? Your mishandling of evidence only magnified our grief and unnecessarily prolonged the investigation into the events that led to my son’s death.  So to the police officers involved, I will leave this justice in God’s hands. I’ve done my part and He knows the truth.

To the man who pulled in front of my son. If you “weren’t looking” because you were distracted, I need to know. If you kept going, failed to yield and stopped in the middle of the intersection because you were under the influence of something, I need to know. I know that marijuana was in your blood, but I need to know why. Do you ever think of my son? Does he ever cross your mind? Are you more attentive now? Do you still drink and drive? Do you still smoke marijuana? Do you even know who my son is? Do you know his character, his compassion, his heart? Do you know that his life mattered? I hope to meet you someday. I will be honest, I am angry. Not angry if you made a mistake, but angry if there is more to the story. I am angry if something was covered up, angry if you were under the influence and most importantly, angry if you forgot about my son. I am angry that my 17 year-old son paid the ultimate price for your mistake. I am angry that I am here and he is not, angry that I was lied to, mocked and dismissed. But you should know that my son was special. There was something that set him apart. God saw this in him too. God saw everything. 

To the off duty medics who tried to render aid to my son; thank you for doing everything in your power to keep him here with us. Thank you for rushing to my 17 year-old boy who needed someone to tend to him until EMT arrived. To the young girl who stayed with my son until we arrived, thank you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for what you did that day. God put you all there for a reason.

To the man who prayed with my husband and I, the witnesses who talked to us to tell us the truth, the nurse who made sure I got shoes on my feet, thank you. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Because what you did that day, your small act of kindness, meant the world to us. You were also there for a reason, and we are thankful for that.

To our family, friends, and Cole’s friends; you mean the world to us. Thank you for being such an amazing part of our son’s life. Thank you for allowing his smile to brighten your day, his heart to lift your spirits, and his laughter to fill your rooms. Thank you for not judging him, for caring about him, and for loving him. You mean more to us than you’ll ever know.

To Cole, our inspiration, our hero, our son; thank you for teaching us what it means to love with our whole heart. Thank you for not laying judgment on others, even when it was laid on you. Thank you for using your own struggles to help those around you find a reason to have hope. Thank you for living your life out loud. Thank you for loving your friends and family with your whole heart. Thank you for making us laugh until we cried. Thank you for staying humble and not being prideful. Thank you for always protecting those you love. Thank you for believing in God and having no shame to say it. Thank you for being the life of our time and for giving us the time of our life. We thank God He chose us to be your family. We thank God that He set you apart. We thank God He saw in you what we did.

Until we see you again Cole, we will love and miss you with every breath we take. We will live the rest of our lives to make you proud, finish what you started, and bring glory to God. We love you Colton. Forever and always.

When the skies are dark, I trust Him.

When the storm is so forceful, so violent and so overwhelming….how do we make it? How do we function when it takes everything we have just to stand? How do we go to work, care for our family, acknowledge our friends…take care of ourselves, when nothing seems to matter? How do we find the energy to smile when it hurts just to blink?

Almost a year ago, I didn’t think I could even muster the strength to stand, speak, or function. I didn’t want to talk, think or be alive. I just wanted to be with my son. I wasn’t ready to give him back to God. I wasn’t ready to never hear his voice again, feel his hugs again, or see his smile again. I wasn’t ready. Oh how I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up from the nightmare…actually, I still do. Some days it feels like yesterday that I heard him call out “Ma’ma” or “What’s for eats?”. It seems like yesterday that I heard the sound of his engine roar as he pulled his muddy truck on the driveway. It seems like yesterday that he texted me a picture of what he cooked us for dinner, or that I came home from work to find him sleeping on the couch while he left his dog out to make a mess.

I miss all of that so much. So much that my heart physically hurts; sometimes the pain is so intense it’s hard to fill my lungs with air. My body hurts, my mind hurts…I hurt. Most days I go through my routine as if he’s here, as if he will be pulling up in the driveway any minute. Call it wishful thinking, but it gets me through the day. It’s when I stop and think, “he’s never coming home Gina. He’s gone. He’s in heaven now. You won’t hear his voice, receive his texts or feel his hugs.” that reality is too overwhelming. I can’t think about it, because the pain can be excruciating.

It’s during these times, when the skies are dark from the storm, that I hold onto Jesus. God is never closer to His children than when they are suffering. God is with you if you let Him in. Invite Him into your heart; allow God’s glory to live within you.

God is with me, every single day. I trust that, I trust in God. I trust Him that His plan is great, and although I may not understand why He needed Cole when He did, God is great. God chose Cole because He needed him.  When I think about the days gone by without my son, I think of those same days getting me closer to seeing him again. By God’s grace, I will see my son again. I choose to focus on that. I choose to live my life to make Cole proud. I choose to live my life to honor God and His glory. I choose this, because  I will get to see Cole again, and when I do, it will be the best day of my life, and last for an eternity.

I love you Cole, forever and always.  You are loved and missed beyond measure.

Love

Ma’ma

Thank you God.

Thank you, God, for choosing ME to be Cole’s mom. Thank you for giving him life and placing such a special soul into my arms. Thank you for giving my beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed baby boy life.  Thank you for giving him the spunk that turned every family event into laughter. Thank you for giving him such an outgoing and funny personality, a laugh that carried, and a smile that shined as bright as the sun. Thank you for giving him a grateful heart that saw the good in others, and the compassion to help those who needed a little HOPE. Thank you for allowing him to experience troubles of his own so that he truly possessed the empathy to lift the spirits of those who were down. Thank you for those who didn’t believe in him because it just made him that much stronger. Thank you for giving him the strength to survive broken bones, stitches, asthma, kidney troubles, surgeries, illnesses and a broken back. Thank you for making him an “all boy” who loved the country and everything that went with it. Thank you for giving us a miracle when his blood finally tested clear of a terminal illness. Thank you for filling his heart with Your spirit. Thank you for giving him the courage to stand strong in his faith and believe in You. Thank you for giving him the skill, love and passion to hunt. Thank you for giving him all those years at the farm to go muddin’ in his truck and four-wheeler. Thank you for giving him such amazing people and friends in his life. Thank you for giving him the courage to stand up for what’s right and the size to take care of himself. Thank you for making him an excellent chef who loved to cook breakfast and dinner for his family. Thank you for giving him the true wisdom to know right from wrong. Thank you for giving him eyes that saw the beauty in Your world. Thank you for giving him the conviction to live life to the fullest and the passion to stop and smell the roses, each and every day. Thank you for giving him a heart that loved his family more than words could say. Thank you for all the laughter, the tears, the memories and the years that we had with our son.  Thank you, for giving us the time of our life, and the life of our time. Thank you, God, for choosing US as Cole’s family. Thank you for choosing Blake to be his brother, and Chad to be his father. Thank you, God. Thank you, for those amazing years with my son, and thank you, for giving Your son, so that I may be with my son again.

Gina Buehner

Cole’s mom forever

Grief stole from me…

What does grief steal from you?  Going through grief can leave you completely empty, extremely fragile and broken. It can literally take your breath away and shatter your heart into a thousand pieces. It can take you to a place you never wanted to be. It can be an anchor, holding you down with a firm grip, unwilling to let go.

It can steal your smile, your laugh and your joy. It can steal your identity, your thoughts and your feelings. It steals your purpose, your intentions and your behaviors. It stole my soul. It stole my heart. It stole my life. It stole half of my reason for being a mom. Half of my reason for living.

But what are the things that grief did NOT steal from me? It did not steal my love for my son. It did not steal all of the wonderful memories of him growing up and sharing his life with us. It did not steal my son’s love for life. It did not steal the love I have for my other son or my reason to continue being a mother. It did not steal my whole heart or my entire soul. It did not steal my faith or my trust in God. It did not steal my love for God, or my conviction to be true to Him.

What grief did for me, was gave me new purpose, new meaning and a new perspective. It gave me a greater love for my family and my life. It deepened my love for God, my trust in Him, and my conviction to live by His word. It gave my soul a different reason to thrive, to grow and to love. It made me understand the difference between wanting something, and truly needing something. It renewed my compassion for others, for life and to make a difference. It revived my drive to find the beauty in our world, in nature, and in each day.

Most importantly, grief made me realize what really matters in my life. It made me realize all of the people in the world who worry about such “things” and take for granted, the gift in each day. Grief made me realize how much I love being a mom. It made me realize, that although I cannot change what happened, it can never steal from me the fact that God chose ME to be Cole’s mom, and us to be Cole’s family. God truly blessed me in my life, and the ultimate sacrifice saved me, by bringing me closer to God. I know now, without a doubt, that by God’s grace, this separation from my son is only temporary and I look forward to the day that God calls me home too.

I love you forever Cole.

Love mom

I welcome it.

Growing up, I had no fear. No fear of taking risks, jumping off, jumping in, or running around. I took dares and took chances.

Once my boys were born, it was amazing to see their personalities develop. Blake is just like his dad…calm, cool and collective. A level headed thinker with a “wait and think about it” approach. Blake wears his heart on his sleeve and gives his whole heart when he loves. He is gentle, he is kind and he is genuine. Cole was just like his momma. Taking on any dare, taking risks worth taking, and taking chances each day. He feared nothing (way less than what I feared) and loved the world with all of his heart. He wasn’t afraid to share his feelings, his emotions or his morals. He wasn’t afraid to let others know that he believed in God and trusted in His word. He wasn’t afraid to make new friends, befriend a new student, or stick up for the small guy. He wasn’t afraid to defend a girl who was being mistreated. He wasn’t afraid…to have fun and enjoy life.

Once I became a mother….I feared the thought of leaving them. I feared death…I feared dying. My purpose was to raise my boys to be happy, fun loving and caring young men. To teach them to love life, and love those they care about with all their heart. To take chances and enjoy their blessings. To find their gift and share it with others. I was scared that something might happen to me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dwell on death, but I certainly wanted to live a full life to watch my boys become young men, young adults and parents themselves.

When I lost my son….when my son became a “forever 17” angel, my views on death changed. I know now that there is nothing to fear about dying. Nothing to fear about death. Because those who believe in Jesus and accept Him as their Savior will live, even though they die. Those who believe in Him shall never die. When we leave this earth, we are going home. Home to the place that we were created for. Earth is just a holding cell, filled with trials and tribulations. Death isn’t death….it’s a celebration. A celebration that as Christians, we get to go home and be with the Lord.

Now, as I struggle to live in two different worlds, I welcome the day that God calls me home. I’m not wishing my life away, because Blake is my reason for living here on earth. But I am not afraid. I am not afraid because I know what the end holds…for my whole family. As a mother, I am supposed to care for, protect, and guide my children. I struggle with the fact that I am not by Cole’s side to care for and protect him. But when this consumes me, I focus….on God, and the fact that Cole is in the best care he could be in. He is in God’s care. Someday, I too will be in God’s care, with my son. And someday, my family will be whole. I welcome that. I am  not afraid…I am thankful.

Gina Buehner

Cole’s mom forever

Cole, did you see?

Dear Cole,

Did you see dad and I, as Jesus carried you away from the chaos? Did you see your best friend standing next to me as we prayed for God to be with you? Did you hear what I said to you Cole? Did you see us running through the hospital as I screamed your name? Did you see your family and friends as we waited to hear from the doctor? Did you see us weep at your bedside as I stroked your hair and whispered I love you in your ear? Did you see all of the students and people at your vigil? Did you hear the stories they told as we laughed at the amazing memories that you have left all of us with? Did you see the hundreds of people at your funeral who were standing in the hallways and stairwell because they ran out of room? Did you hear me, grandpa, and Uncle Bot tell your story? Did you see 118 vehicles of those who love you follow us to your grave site? Did you see your truck, standing tall, carrying a flag that said “Cole Buehner- Heaven now has the life of the party”? Did you see all of the vehicles pulling over to the side of the road because they knew, they knew we were laying to rest someone so special? Did you see the State Troopers who escorted us to the cemetery, and saluted you as we entered? Do you see all of the students and friends whose lives you have changed? Do you see how your words of advice, your whispers of HOPE, impacted their lives? Do you know the impact that you had on this world?

I know you saw Cole. I know you heard, and I know you still see. I know you see, because I feel you with me every day. Every day that I weep for you, every time my hearts stops beating and my lungs refuse to fill, I feel you. When I awake and I’m angry, and I cry, I feel you. I feel you put your arms around me and whisper, “mom, it’s ok”. When I want to scream, when I want to break something, I feel you, and I hear you say “you’re going to be all right mom.”

I know you are still with us Cole. We’ve had so many signs, and we believe. So if you can hear me now, if you are reading these words as I type…I love you Colton. I love you with every beat of my heart. There’s not a second in the day that I don’t think of you, that I don’t miss you, and that I don’t love you even more than I did the day before. You are my son forever Cole. I will not say goodbye, because this is not forever. Nothing in the world can separate a  mother’s love, and one day, one day, I will be with you again. I know that you have ALWAYS believed and you have ALWAYS known about heaven. I know that you are waiting for all of us, and I know that we will see you again. Until then, thank you for being with me every single day. Thank you for giving us the time of our life and being the life of the party. Thank you for teaching me what life is all about. I love you, forever and always.

Love mom

Grief at 11 months…

This is the eleventh month since the loss of my seventeen year old son. I’m not the same person that I used to be, and that person will never return. That person existed when my family was whole, life was good, and things were “normal”. I’ve lost a piece of my heart. You simply cannot begin to understand that, if you haven’t experienced it. This is me, I’m different, my life is different. My life has been forever changed and I walk around like a shell on most days. Some days I feel so empty and hollow. I feel like I wear a mask, and I’ve gotten really good at lying when you ask “How are you doing?”. I work, I clean, I cook, I do….if you could only see me on the inside, you would understand.

When you go through the devastating, debilitating, life altering tragedy of losing a child, you feel so alone because you feel as though no one gets it. And no one does get it, unless they’ve experienced it. I don’t look for your pity or sympathy; most of the time I’m just looking for someone to listen.  A non-judgmental listener. There are so many thoughts in my head, so many memories, and so many stories that I want to share. You may think that mentioning my child’s name will upset me, make me cry, or make me uncomfortable. The truth is, when you say my child’s name, my heart lights up. Hearing my child’s name lets me know that you thought about him, you remember him, and that’s music to my ears.

As a parent who lost a child, my biggest fear is that the world will forget that he existed. MY SON EXISTED! He was an amazing, beautiful and gentle soul who used his time on earth to make a difference. I want you to remember him, I need you to remember him, please don’t be afraid to speak of him.

Please understand that there are days that I just don’t want to talk, about anything. There are days when I just long to be alone. I don’t enjoy doing some of the things I used to do, and I may never enjoy them again, but that’s ok. I may not answer your call right away, be on Facebook all the time, or respond to your text for a little while. Please understand. You see, as the world goes on, my heart still has a hole. A hole that will never be filled; a permanent scar that I carry every single day, a scar that physically hurts some days more than others. I am grieving. I will always be grieving. My grief may take on different forms, it may change, because I will learn to live with it. But you must understand there will never be a day in my life that I do not miss my son, that I do not think about him, and that I do not wish to be with him again.

Some of you have been my friends for many years, and you’ve quietly and subtly walked away. Please know that I am ok with that. You may not know what to do, or say, or even be uncomfortable around me. I accept that. Sometimes I’m uncomfortable with myself.

To those of you who have walked into my life, I thank God for you. Some of you are long lost friends, some who I have not spoken to since childhood, some that I have yet to meet in person, and some who have become heaven sent saviors.

I will learn to survive this. I have no other choice. But just because I may walk around with a smile on my face, please, please try to understand that I am missing a part of me that is irreplaceable…The day that my child went to heaven, part of me died. I have lost a part of my soul. Please be patient with me. Please do not take what I say or do, personal. I’m just trying to survive. I’m trying to do what God needs me to do. I hold on to God’s hand every single day, He carries me when I cannot stand.

This is me at eleven months. My heels are dug into the ground as I try to turn away from the one year anniversary date of my son’s departure from earth. My stomach is in knots, my mind doesn’t rest, and my eyes are heavy with tears. Please be patient with me. I’m trying.

Thank you,

A broken mom

 

I love you Cole, forever and always. Love mom