From Boys to Men

Brian, Mitch, Carter and Mikos

Our son Mikos was in the 7th grade when he was  initiated into manhood.

The Accident

Our home was always the hangout house. I remember one day when the boys came home from school talking about Jeff, a classmate of theirs who had been hit by a car that afternoon. They had no idea of the severity of his injuries. They talked about how Jeff was a prankster and that he was going to be fine. I walked into the room to explain to the boys that this was a serious matter, but the boys could not comprehend the gravity of the situation. I tried to contact the hospital to check on Jeff’s condition, but because I was not family no information was disclosed. We would find out later through a mutual friend that Jeff was in intensive care. Jeff’s grave condition became worse. He was in a coma but came out of it long enough to tell his family how much he loved them; then he  died shortly thereafter. Mikos and his friends were in shock after hearing the news.

I never met Jeff.


I agreed to take some of Mikos’ friends to the funeral services. Mitch, our neighbor, was a good friend of Mikos.

Mitch was my sweet friend too. He was the type of kid who grew on you – not a know-it-all  but he had a brilliant mind. Mitch was always visiting us. I would greet him at the door to tell him that Mikos was not home. I’d tell Mitch to come back later, but he’d talk his way into staying. “I’ll wait for him here,” he’d say. He offered to vacuum for me while he waited. He was adorably charming and had an old soul.

Mike coached Mitch and Mikos , Mikos kneeling, Mike behind him and Mitch standing next to Mike

Of all of Mikos’ friends, Mitch processed Jeff’s death differently, in a more mature and sensitive manner. It was surreal to see how Mitch was emotionally connected to Jeff’s passing. I had planned to take my son and a few of their friends to the funeral services when Mitch called to ask for a ride. “No, I can’t take Mitch without his parents’ permission,” I remembered telling Mikos. Then  Mitch’s mom called to inform me that Mitch had her permission to go with us.

The Christmas Poinsettia

Jeff’s passing was right before Christmas and Mitch had purchased a poinsettia plant for Jeff’s family. Mitch’s mother was at work, so Mitch asked me to take him to deliver the flowers personally. I did not feel comfortable because I did not know the family personally.  Once again, Mitch’s convincing words persuaded me to take him. My daughter Sonja and I waited in the car for Mitch while he visited Jeff’s family.

Mitch’s Accident

Less than a month later, a young, novice driver caught the sun in her eyes and failed to see Mitch crossing the street. Mitch was riding his bike to catch one of Mikos’ basketball games when he was hit by the car. On the same infamous crosswalk where Jeff was hit by a car, Mitch met the same fate.  From our home I heard the ambulance and then the  helicopter that airlifted Mitch to the specialized head trauma department of a nearby hospital.

Mikos came home with the tragic news, but this time he understood the severity of the situation. I knew Mitch well, but had only met his parents a couple of times. Mikos wanted to go to the hospital, but that was out of the question; we were not family and out of respect I did not want to intrude.

Saying Goodbye

For several days Mitch fought for his life, but due to his severe head trauma it was only a matter of time. Mikos came to me and pleaded with me to take him to the hospital to say goodbye to Mitch. I explained to my son that the only way that was going to happen was if Mitch’s family personally called us. The following morning, Mitch’s mother called to inform us that there was no brain activity and that we could come and pay our respects.

As Mikos and I  walked into the hospital room, we could not fight back the tears. As I touched Mitch’s arm my heart was aching for his family and what they were experiencing with this unexpected blow. This beautiful boy with a brilliant mind was taken too soon.

My husband Mike and Mikos, along with Mitch’s friends, served as pallbearers for their young friend.

The Traffic Signal

Villa Park is a small community that wanted to keep the aesthetics of rural living without any traffic signals. Driving through Villa Park there are many stop signs, but during school sessions the middle school and high school converge at the same crosswalk. It is very busy. After Mitch’s death, the community gathered to protest and petitioned the city to place the only traffic signal in Villa Park.

I remembered peacefully marching with a large crowd of parents and children from Villa Park High School to City Hall.  It took the lives of two precious young men to have the traffic signal installed. I often think of Mitch and Jeff when passing this signal.

My Poem for Mitch

In my grief I wrote a poem for Mitch’s family,  which was read at his service:

O my son, the many things we’d say we’d do.

I have a hard time to find this real, this true.

The coldness of life has left me numb.

I ask you why, why my son?

You turn my way and hold me through this.

Is it your love I can’t understand?

Or is it my life which you want to command?

A life so young has now vanished I say.

But you, Lord, will not lead me astray.

Take my hand and I will follow.

Give me faith, at times mine is shallow.

I’m slow to remember, You, too, share my pain.

We share the same loss.

The difference…

Yours died on the Cross.

© Lynda Ciriza

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