Over the course of that day, the day of the crash, Hans drives at least four times over the spot from which he will leave us for Heaven. It was to that very spot, at the end of our driveway, that Hans would cajole me into taking him as a little boy so he could wait and watch for his daddy to come home.
Weeks after the crash, as Manfred and I walk along the highway retrieving small items of debris from Hans’s car, I recall that some years ago, a car fire occurred near that same place on the highway, to which Hans responded with the fire department. I study the edge of the highway where the car fire happened. I look down at the end of our driveway where he stood as a little boy, gesturing to passing truckers to blow their horns. I examine the spray paint on the pavement, which marks the outline of where Hans’s wrecked car spun to a stop and try to envision these events as separate occurrences.
In my mind though, I see Hans on one side of the highway, running around aiding a motorist but, turning my head, I see him sitting dead in his car on the other side. I look around for the little boy who is waiting for his daddy, as vehicles whiz by, throwing snow and icy wind into my face. I stand there holding the metal Volvo insignia which I have just picked up from the ditch. None of it seems real.
In Fairbanks, Hans fuels up and then returns home around 4:30 p.m. with the part for his dad’s car. Stuffed in his jacket pocket is the gas station receipt stamped with the date and time: 1/11/16, 2:43 p.m. On that bright winter afternoon, while he casually pumps gas, maybe he scrutinizes the small rust patch developing on the driver’s door. It does not enter his mind that the very spot of rust he is planning to repair will soon be the point of impact in a fatal car crash. It does not occur to him he has three hours and fifteen minutes to live.
Excerpt #2 from my book, Never Ceasing: God’s Faithfulness in Grief, available for purchase on amazon.