A Moment in Time
When I called Susan to tell her that her Grandfather was sick, she asked me immediately
how I was doing. “I know I am sad to hear my Pepere Marcotte is not well, but how are
you, Randy?” she asked, “He is your father.” I took comfort in her words and in her
awareness. While I was calling her with the bad news, she put herself aside to take care of
me. That was the beginning of a turn of events that has forever changed our lives.
In the background I could here Josh and Jennifer talking up a storm. I had reached Susan on
her cell phone while driving to and from one of the many activities that filled their lives as a
family. She quietly said, “Hey guys, Mommy is talking to Uncle Randy, can you keep it
quite for a few minutes?” To my surprise, they did. “My kids listen to me better than we
ever listened to our parents,” she explained. I could only laugh… leave it to Susan to have
two near perfect children.
A few weeks later Susan and I were gathered in Blackstone to be with family and to be with
one another. While years had separated our last visit, time seemed to stand still.
Occasional calls kept us updated on the events of each other’s lives, but being together
created a timeless moment and in an instant we knew both had become the adults we once
dreamed we could be. I was so grateful to her for leaving her kids and life back in Texas. It
was her first trip away from them, and now for a weekend she would help me and the
family address the needs of my ailing father and her beloved Pepere.
We decided to grab dinner together. Some time alone in the chaos of family to share stories,
to catch up and to be with one another, to take care of one another would be great. Little
did I know how strong we would need to be in the coming moments, how much Susan
would need me and all the family to surround her with love. On our way to dinner Susan
chirped away about how wonderful her kids were to her, how much they had become her
life force, how much they enriched her soul, how blessed she was to be their mommy.
And then my phone rang. I got the horrible news of an accident and looked across the table
at Susan and lied. “Something is wrong with Pepere, and they want us to come home.” In
the background I could hear Anita wailing. The drive took no more than ten minutes, but it
felt like a lifetime. And for the second time I lied to Susan and said, “Ok, I don’t want to
freak you out (how could she not), but it is not about my dad Susan, the call was about
your dad. He’s been in an accident.” Ok, so I didn’t lie, I just didn’t tell her everything. I
figured she’d know soon enough and better she hear from her mother.” She knew from my
voice something was up, but she didn’t ask. She just looked terrified.
The moment we walked into the house is frozen in time. I can still hear Susan’s scream:
primal, universal. The wail of all mothers, “This can’t be happening, This can’t be
happening, This can’t be happening.” It is like we are all still there. She looked around the
room for someone to fix this, for some answer, for some reason. When her eyes stopped at
me I heard her say it again, “Randy these kids are my life.” I still hear the wail of Susan
asking God why, hoping this was a mistake. It sounded as painful as anyone could imagine,
and now as I look back on it—exactly one year later—it occurs to me that we witnessed the
sound of Donald, Joshua and Jennifer’s birth into their new life: Painful only to those of us
In an instant the fabric of our families lives were changed forever. In a moment Susan’s
worst nightmare became a terrible reality.
Five days later I found myself in Texas, one of the last of many to arrive. What followed
was a few weeks filled with the tragedy of death and, ironically, the celebration of life. As
our Badeau, Marcotte, Perez, New England, Plantersville, College Station families worked
to sew together the torn pieces of our lost loved ones, I witnessed in awe a faith stronger
than death, Susan was embraced by her faith, and while shattered, I knew she was not
In my mind I could hear here screaming: “Why is this happening!!” Who wouldn’t? But
in her home, and in her heart she took this as an occasion to share how wonderful Josh and
Jennifer were. Susan and I spent the next few days, alone with Bell, as the sole occupants
of a once busy home. The signs of commotion in a home filled with love, laughter and a dog
lay all around us, constant reminders of the tragedy. Their footprints were everywhere.
Every inch of their home had become sacred space. It stands as one of the few occasions on
my life where I was able to witness the visible presence of God’s love holding someone
together in the most unbelievable circumstances.
One morning I brought Susan some coffee and asked, “Did you sleep OK?” She
responded, “Sleeping is not the problem, it’s waking up. When I sleep, I dream of my
kids. That’s why when I am awake I am going to use the things that remind me of Josh and
Jennifer as moments to celebrate how wonderful they were, and how lucky I am to be their
Susan and I speak more often now. And when we don’t speak, we know that we hold one
another close to our hearts. When I told Susan about this website, I explained that I wanted
people to know how amazing it was to be with her during that time and how beautiful it is
that her faith sustains her through this unspeakable tragedy. In times of deep sorrow, I
know that Susan takes comfort in knowing she did the best she could for those kids, that
they were surrounded by the love of their Papaw, and that they touched many lives in their
short time on earth. We all mourn the loss of Donald, Joshua and Jennifer and still stand in
shock. We also believe that it is less important to try and figure out why these few seconds
changed so much, but better to use this as an opportunity to use what ever time we have
left to be better people, stronger in our faith and loving to one another. For Susan, that is
the best tribute anyone can offer.
Randy N. Marcotte
30 November 2003