Harrison Rhoades Smith
Our son Harrison was a carefree and loving child who grew into a carefree and loving young man. He cherished his friends and his family and would do anything for anyone. He was always the class clown. It was his moral imperative to bring joy to each and every person’s life that he touched no matter if he was a home, school or work. His sparkling blue eyes and bright smile made him unforgettable. Although he wasn’t athletic by most accounts, he was never afraid to try anything at least once. As a child he played every sport at least for one season, but it was the adventure sports that drew him in. Skateboarding, BMX biking and snowboarding were among some of his most beloved pastimes.
April 10th, 2013 Harrison and three of his long time childhood friends were taken from this Earth in a tragic car accident. He was just 18 years old. The death of a child is a pain beyond description. There are no words worthy of it. I woke up that day and as usual checked in Harrison’s room to see his feet sticking out over the end of his bed and his blonde head snoring away on the other end. Content that he was home and safe, I went about my morning routine. I proceeded downstairs and found my basement littered with pillows, blankets and boys all over. This was a typical scene on any given day at our house. Tyler and Mike were among the group. Expecting them all to keep sleeping until goodness knows when, I went to work.
Harrison called me at 1:38 that afternoon to check in and let me know that he and the boys were hanging out at our house playing basketball. It was sunny and almost 90 degrees which was most uncommon for early April. Little did I know when he said “love you” and hung up it would be the last words I would ever hear him say. As his mom, those are words I will cherish and hold on to forever. After news had spread that Harrison, Mike, Tyler and Corey were killed in this horrific accident, our home was soon flooded with classmates, friends and neighbors. They were all seeking answers. How could this have happened? Why did this have to happen? Why those boys? Why?
Their pain was as evident as ours. These were all good boys. Good friends just hanging out and having a good time. They were enjoying the day. Their only mistake…..overconfidence of youth. As a young person, it’s hard to imagine anything bad ever happening to you. That’s because the people that love you have done their best to protect you from those types of situations. They give you advice and try to steer you but in the end you are in command of your own choices good and bad. With those choices come consequences, good and bad. I am here to tell you bad things CAN and DO happen.
Our family had to plan a funeral to say goodbye to our son, brother, grandson, cousin, and nephew. It was the most gut wrenching thing we will ever have to do. Friends and family gathered to pay tribute to a life taken too soon. Harrison’s older sister has become an only child. She lost her only sibling, the little brother that she looked out for. The one she grew up with day in and day out. We have lost our only son. Our hearts are broken and will never again be whole. The loss is too great. We miss his laughter, his smile, his crazy antics.
All that remains are memories, pictures and mementos which will never fill the void. Harrison can never be replaced. It is all we can do from day to day to just breathe. Tears come from no-where anytime they feel like it. People think you’ll get over it, but I am here to tell you, you never get over this. You learn to live with sorrow. You live with the constant stabbing pain of missing them. You mourn the loss of what their future could have held. You endure the unshakable feeling of how this just shouldn’t be, the wish that it was all just a bad, bad dream…. None of these boys had any idea when they went for that joy ride that it would be their last.
None of them ever thought they would put their families through this kind of heartache. If they had, they would have never let it happen. But if any good can come from what we have lost, our hope is that lives can be saved by their story. Think before you act. Anticipate when things can go wrong and correct yourself while you still can. Life is a gift and it can be cut short at any time. Do want you can to keep it from happening to you or someone you love. Do it for Harrison, Tyler, Mike and Corey.