I have a brand new friend. Her name is Tiffanni.
The exact birth date of our friendship was May 21st of this year.
Most times when we say birthday it evokes thoughts of
balloons, cake, gifts, happy thoughts.
When Tiffanni goes back one year from this May to
May 21, 2006, without a doubt there is sadness and pain.
It was on that day her 22 year old son Dustin’s brain died.
Dustin suffered head injuries while riding solo on an
all terrain vehicle. Dustin died on May 31, 2006.
I live in Ohio and Tiffanni lives in a small town in Iowa.
So what has connected us ?
Vincent phoned me on the day of the accident.
From the first “Hi Mom”, I responded “What’s wrong?”
His voice cracked as my then 21 year old explained how his friend was in critical condition. He did not know the exact details.
Our conversation was quick, and I ended saying I would keep Dustin in my prayers.
I communicated with Vince by email and the prognosis for Dustin was not good.
On May 31, 2006 he was removed from life support.
I asked Vince last year for contact information for Dustin’s family.
I never got that from him. Perhaps I should have been more
Over this past year, I’ve attempted to help Vince with his grief.
As a young man who at times has been hundreds and now
thousands of miles away in Korea, it’s not been easy.
Early this Spring I went on the internet determined to find a way
to reach Dustin’s family. I started with plenty of time that if I could not locate them, I would still have time before the one year anniversary of his passing to throttle Vince and get that from him.
I was able to locate a mailing address and created a card with this beautiful quote:
“In one of the stars I shall be living
In one of them I shall be laughing
And so it will be as if all the
stars were laughing when you look
at the sky at night.”
The Little Prince ”“ Antoine De Saint-Exupery
I also wrote out a letter to Tiffanni and her family.
I did not know Dustin, nor his Mom, but I do know it’s never too late to express your heart felt feelings to another person.
Tiffanni emailed me this message in return.
Thank you so much for your card and kind words. It’s funny that I received it on a day I wasn’t feeling so strong, you see Monday was a year since the accident and that is the day I got your card.
How is Vinny???
I have thought of him often this year and have prayed for his safety.
I miss all of the guys so much. They really helped me in the coping, I often joke that I may have lost one son, but I got 10 more.
It has been rough and I deal with things on a daily basis. Fortunately, my other two kids keep me busy all the time, so when I get to feeling too bad, I just remind myself that I have to keep plugging away.
I also know in my heart that he is with us always and we will see him again in a better place. The Air Force was so great through it all and I will always feel that they are my extended family.
Dustin couldn’t have met and made a better group of friends!!!
Please forward this on to Vinny and give him my love.
Tell him to email and keep safe.
Speaking of stars, they were indeed lined up and by
God’s grace my card arrived to Tiffanni on May 21, 2007.
NEVER, EVER let anyone tell you that snail mail is a
thing of the past.
It’s almost as if the paper of the card or letter is ~charged~
with the Spirit of Ho’okipa.
From your hand and heart, to the receiver’s hand and heart.
A most powerful thing indeed.!
I would also like to share when Dustin was deployed to
Afghanistan in 2005, the Air Force ordered him (as all airmen
are so ordered) to write a living will. Following his wishes,
two recipients have a chance for life through the donation
of Dustin’s organs.
*Before sharing this story, I sent Tiffanni a copy. I wanted
her blessing before going forward. She responded that
she was honored to have me share ‘our’ story.
Guest Author: Debra Estep, author of Deb Inside.
When you visit Deb at her place, be sure to take a look at her wonderful art, it is so softly warming – as is Deb! This is one of my favorites, she calls it Wild Roses: