A Death Too Soon

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this.  Everything is going along like normal, you’re in a routine, and then your phone buzzes with a text message saying that your cousin, 21 years old, just died in a car wreck.  Shock sets in immediately.  And then the utter feeling of helplessness.

I loved Colby Miller, and his sudden death still has me seriously shaken up several days later, but I’m way down on the totem pole of people who were affected by his death.  He left behind him the love of his life, and a three-month-old son, devastated parents, a brother, a sister, grandparents, and various other extended family members who knew him much better than I (a side-effect of not living nearby).  The congregation in Wetaug, Illinois is hurting as well, and is still in shock.  It was evident in the words which were spoken yesterday (at both services), the eyes filled with sadness, the hugs that were freely given and held longer than normal, the feeling that no one really wanted to say “goodbye.”

But still, I feel the immense loss, the pain that is pervading the family, especially now as the wound is still fresh.  As Jesse and I left the graveside where they laid Colby next to his hero—his (and my) grandpa Don—I couldn’t help but notice names, names of people I have known, names of family members who I once talked with, smiled with, laughed with, and loved.  Half of my family history is buried in that cemetery.

The past few days have got me thinking hard about many things, and I hope that somehow, through this, I can … I don’t know, do something.  So, here goes.

Take the time to tell others that you love them.

As was painfully driven home to me this past week, you don’t know that you’ll ever see a loved one again.  Something might happen to you.  Something might happen to him or her.  Brad Paisley sang a song about writing a letter to his younger self, and it includes the line “P.S. Go hug Aunt Rita every chance you can.”  The implication being that she wasn’t alive anymore by the time he wrote.  Don’t wait to tell and show people that you love them, and don’t assume that you’ll have other opportunities.  You don’t know that.  Take the time, make the opportunity now to let people know you care.

Be a friend to others.

At the visitation for Colby, there was an unbroken line of people coming in for over five hours.  I don’t know the exact number, but it was over 700.  Some were friends of his parents, others were friends of Colby himself.  But make no mistake, these people came because of friendship.  Colby was a friend to many people, had an impact on the lives of many people.  I’ve seen funerals before where hardly anyone came because the deceased didn’t have many friends.  Christians, more than anyone else, should have an impact for good on the lives around them.  Think of all the opportunities you have to reach out to others, to help others, to be a friend to others.  Don’t waste your time—make it worthwhile in reaching others.

Drive carefully.

Colby was lost, on an unfamiliar road, trying to get somewhere.  But he was also in a hurry, and wasn’t able to make a turn.  It’s then that his truck left the road, and … well, I don’t want to go into what happened next, but it is what caused me to receive the text mentioned at the beginning of this post.  When we got to Illinois and joined with the family before the public visitation began, my grandmother (and Colby’s) hugged me harder than she’s ever hugged me before, and said “Don’t let this happen to you.”  She knew that I used to have a lead foot.  She was begging me to make sure I drove safely.

I could go into the truth that a Christian is to obey the laws of the land (including the speed limit), but I also want you to realize that these laws are there to help keep us safe.  It’s most likely that if everyone drove the speed limit, I wouldn’t be writing this today.  But now, every time a car passes us on the interstate, I see it crashing, and I find myself praying a silent prayer that it doesn’t happen.

There are people that care about you.  If for no other reason, drive safely for their sakes.

Pray.

Colby’s family could really use your prayers right now.  It will be a very long time before they approach anything even close to “normal.”  The congregation of the Lord’s church in Wetaug, Illinois, could use your prayers as well.  This hit them very hard too.

In the meantime, don’t assume that you’ve got tomorrow to tell people that you care—do it now.  Don’t wait to give a hug, to make a visit, to pick up the phone and call, to show that you love them, or that you are their friend—do it now.

And please, stay safe.

-Bradley S. Cobb

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7 thoughts on “A Death Too Soon”

  1. Your words spoke what has been on my mind and in my heart since last Wednesday night….as I am sure is the case for everyone who knew Colby and were devastated by his passing. I told someone Saturday nearly the same thing…we are not promised tomorrow so take hold and cherish what you have right now…right this moment! So sorry for your loss! Prayers are with the whole family!

  2. This is beautifully written. I didn’t personally know Colby or his family, but I know somewhat what they are going through. And I know they need all the prayers they can get for a long, long time. I have been praying for comfort and strength for them since I first heard, and will continue to do so for a very, very long time.

  3. What a beautiful post! It couldn’t have been more well written! We didn’t know Colby or his family – but this wreck happened not far from our home in Massac County.
    I was home from church that night – a rarity for me – but my blood pressure was spiking and I knew I just had to relax and get it back down.
    I heard this call go out on our scanner and I ‘can’ tell you – that the crash happened right in front of the home of a wonderful Christian family and they were at his car immediately and called 911.
    Praying for peace and comfort and strength for the entire family and the friends that loved Colby so much.

  4. My husband and I were just talking about a conversation he had today, that brought up the not understanding why things like this happen. Not only was the small community of Ullin impacted by this but so many others that either Colby or his Family touched in someway. No we can’t understand why things happen but no matter what it is there is always a outcome (or reason we can’t see at the time). It could be this article being writen and for one person who shared it that causes someone who needed to read it to do so and make a life changing decision. It could be a number of positive outcomes. Thoughts and prayers to all the family and I’m truly blessed to know such a God loving faithful family.

  5. A very beautiful and truthful tribute, I didn’t know him but do know some of his family, I’ve had the whole family on my prayer list ever since I heard about the accident, I also know and understand the pain this family is feeling and I can tell you it’s a hurt that NEVER goes away, it’s been almost 16 years since I lost my son due to a car accident,the best we can do is enjoy our memories and give thanks to our Lord for the time we were allowed to have them but that will take awhile coming! I’m still praying for this family.

  6. There are many,many people who watched Colby grow up at a distance and we all knew he was a good kid who grew into a wonderful man. Was he perfect,no, but none of us are, but he knew the Lord and Colby is, I believe watching over us, saying do not morn for me to long and live you’re lives because I am with you always in your heart. The most wonderful thing I remember about Colby is his beautiful smile and caring personality. He was always polite and smiling no matter if he knew you or not. My husband and I have know the family for as long as we can remember. Brent and Holley are Two very special people who will need our love, prayers and support for a very long time as well as their children. As a person who has lost a sibling suddenly to a motorcycle accident at the age of 18, I can say that I know some of those feelings the children are going through and it is awful for them and to see their parents suffering and not being able to help them with their grief. For the whole Miller family, you are in our prayers, thoughts and if ever you need anything we are here. There are no words that can be spoken by me that will ease your pain, But Gods words can make your pain bearable and get you through your grief. My Prayer is that you will let that pain out and let those tears and feelings out and not hold it in because it can destroy a person little by little. The feelings are just so raw right now and nothing said makes any sense at all. Life is like walking through a puddle of quick sand that never ends. None of us will ever forget Colby or the wonderful person he was and he lives on in the life of that little boy. Prayers and Love is all I have to offer. Peace and comfort is what i pray for this family….

  7. Brad,
    I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. Your tribute to Colby is a testament to the character of your entire family and reflects a depth of love that I believe, is the most treasured of our worldly possessions. Without love and the love of family in particular, how dark and lonely a place this would be! God bless Colby’s family at this very difficult time. God comfort all who are suffering anguish and despair as only he can. And God bless you in your ministry because you have a very unique way of sharing God’s love and calling even when in immense suffering personally. You are answering his call in a way I am certain pleases our God and our Redeemer.
    Steve King

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