For years, we’ve said hi to and watched our neighbor Bill and his son Jackson, age
9, play out in the yard. Having been a single dad for some nine years, I felt kinship with Bill as he struggled to raise his son and stay involved in his son’s life. I very much respected that about him when so many men seem to walk away from their kids.
At nine years younger than my son, I used to talk with Bill about places to take his young son and how much we both loved being dads.
Several weeks ago, Bill and Jackson jumped into their construction van and headed to
their favorite camp spot on the Colorado River. Tragically, their bodies were discovered this past week victims of what police are saying was a murder-suicide.
None of us can imagine why Bill would take this path for him and his son. He was a dedicated dad who was constantly doing things with his son. We know his
son was struggling with school. We also know he wanted a new dog for Christmas and that, like every year before, they put up their Christmas lights in the Aspen trees. Perhaps Bill felt that his son, or himself, were facing some overwhelming pain and obstacles and that this option made sense to him in some distorted way.
I can also recall some of my own past pain of going through a divorce and being so
worried about what the future would hold for my young son and I. Would we be ok? I told him we would on a hut trip when he was nine but did so with great uncertainty and fear. I also recall periods of stress while trying to maintain a house, manage the finances of a business, deal with my own post trauma from the Columbine High School tragedy, deal with my dad’s death and continue to maintain a good relationship with my son. It was always our adventures I would look to however, when I reached my max and it was the adventures which kept us close.
Now, seeing the reporters and police out front, I’m left with deep sorrow for Bill
and his curly headed boy. All we will have are memories of the two of them on their many adventures. Building their own house together (Bill was gifted with this hands), playing ball, seeing Jackson on top of the step van as a preschooler (he loved to climb), watching Jackson scream around the corner on his Big Wheels and then in his electric car, borrowing tools for our home construction adventures, the two of them showing up late at night for our home fireworks displays, dropping off holiday treats for which they were always so thankful, and waving to them just a couple of weeks ago as they drove by in the
big white van just as they had done hundreds of times before. Bill waving and Jackson sitting tall in the front seat with his curly hair, riding off with his dad.
Rest in Peace