A Simple Brown Box

by Hamp Thomas

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William Daniel Thomas
November 27, 1988 – August 23, 2011

Just a plain wooden box, nothing fancy. A simple brown box carrying the remains of my son. Something I never envisioned in my wildest dreams. Me, carrying my only son past the isles of mourners. Hearing the sounds of goodbye, trying not to watch the tears and fighting to hold back my own; a losing battle. As I walked what seemed like the longest journey of my life, I was trying hard not to think about what I was holding so tightly in my hands. Inside this small wooden box was my heart, my child.

The first month after the funeral, I wrote a poem titled “The Walk of Death.” It somehow burned a hole deep down in my soul, so much so that I had to delete it It was just too personal. Just a brief glimpse of the words brought me to uncontrollable tears and made me relive that anguishing moment, over, and over, and over again. I can see the path now; out of the church, to the Hearse, to the grave, and then gently placed down into the earth. A piece of my heart went down with that box and it is never to be unearthed again, not on this side of the veil.

That imprint will forever haunt me. Walking, trying not to look at the anguish in my wife’s and daughter’s faces, the tearful faces seated down the rows of the church, trying not to sob uncontrollably, trying to be a brave father and husband, and failing miserably at it all. As I walked, the tears fell, soaking deep into my simple brown box.

My heart died a little that day. I will never forget that simple brown box and the wonderful young man who gave his organs so others could live. Organ donation and cremation is a decision I still worry about. Did we do the best thing for our son? Surely God has welcomed our son into heaven and blessed those lives he touched; in life, and in death. Such a long walk, carrying a heavy load, in that simple brown box …

Reprinted with permission of the author

About the Author: About the Author: Hamp & Sherri Thomas live in Whispering Pines, NC and just celebrated their 34th anniversary. Their daughter Lauren is a doctor in Miami, FL and just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Their son Will left them at the age of 22 and they feel his presence in dragonflies all the time. The “signs” keep them going. Hamp is the author of the books, Love and Grief, My Child My Heart and Love and Grief Year Two.

“Our Will passed away in his sleep in the middle of the night after complaining of chest pains for the last few days. We may never know for sure what caused his death and the doctors can’t seem to agree. I always hate to answer the questions about how he died because I don’t really know the answer. That almost makes it worse.” ~ Hamp Thomas

Read Hamp’s other article: Rediscovering Anticipation

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