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Pages in Will's World for you to visit:
William's Life and Photo Gallery
William's Interests, Links, and Artwork
Information on Some of the Other Memorials Dedicated
To William's Memory
(Come See the Daylily)
Text of the News Stories Surrounding William's Murder
and the Trials.
An Extensive List of Links and Information
on Sites Useful to Grieving Teens and Adults
Grief and Family Support
Related To Gun Violence
Boards and Chats
Information on the Memorial Scholarship Funds
Links to Other Memorial Sites on the Web. You
May Submit Your Own Memorial Site To Your Loved One Here, As Well
Published and Unpublished Articles Written by Me
Regarding My Own Grief and Sense of Loss.
Talks and Writings
Selected Newsgroup Posts
A "Letter of Demonic Advice" in the style
of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters
regarding the loss of a child and a short story I'd like to believe could come
Information on our book.
More Resources and Materials for Bereaved Families
The William Benjamin Jenkins Daylily
- Sometime after midnight, on the morning of August 13, 1997, I was
awakened by a phone call from the police. They were at William's house and wanted me to
come over right away. They couldn't tell me more over the phone than that there had been
an accident and William was involved. Having worked closely with the police on a college
job one summer, I knew that there was as much importance in what the officer didn't say,
as in what he did say. As I drove the ten minutes to William's house, I contemplated the
possibilities and came up with the following conclusion. Either William would be there,
and he would be in the biggest trouble of his life (in which case the officer would have
assured me he was all right), or he wouldn't be there at all. If he wasn't there at all
then he would be in the hospital (in which case I would have been asked to report there),
or else he would be dead. When I walked into the house and saw that William was not there,
and that there was a woman whom I didn't know sitting with his mother, I knew before the
officer gently told me what happened. All that was left was for him to fill me in on the
- William's mom and I talked for a bit, the officers and mental health professional left,
and I went back to my house with the very unpleasant duty of telling my wife, Elise, what
had happened. None of us found sleep that night. Before long, William's grandparents and
uncle arrived. Some of his friends gathered outside the house and sat on the dark lawn
keeping vigil in numbed silence. I talked with them for a long time. My heart broke for
them. William was one of the big things in their lives that they held on to. It was as if
their anchor had been ripped from its mooring, and now they were adrift in a storm-tossed
sea. I promised them that I would try to protect them from the publicity that was sure to
follow, and I listened to them and hugged them, each of us serving as a connection to what
we had lost.
- I went to the restaurant that night. I needed to see the place where he had spent his
last moments. And even though I couldn't get close to where he had fallen, and there were
many questions which were still unanswered, I needed to go to where my son was last seen
alive. The yellow police line was up, a lone officer standing vigil (whom I spoke to and
thanked for his service). The owners were changing the sign out front; I couldn't see what
they were putting up, but I assumed they were closing until further notice ( I would not
approach them and present them with an awkward moment). The next week, I would go back to
that restaurant after it had re-opened, meeting with the manager and some of the
employees, assuring them that we were doing well despite our loss, and reassuring them as
best I could of their safety in this world, for each of them knew that if the schedule had
been different, it could have been any of them instead.
- On the morning of August 13, after a night of no sleep, calling people who needed to
know before they heard it on the morning news, and gathering our support group around us,
I went outside for a walk, and I watched as the sun rose over the trees. A reminder that
life goes inexorably on, the sun rising and setting on our joys as well as our sorrows,
and that, just like the sun's continued travel across the sky, our lives would continue to
press on into the future. One day at a time, days adding up into weeks, then into months,
and then to years. If the One who fixed the earth in her orbit is, as I believe, worthy of
the trust we place in Him, then we would be all right. And at that moment I decided that I
am going to play this one "by the Book" and, inasmuch as I am able to influence
events, only good things will come out of this tragedy.
- When Paul and Mary awoke, it was our very sad duty to inform them that "William
wasn't with us anymore." We talked about what had happened the previous night, how he
had been killed, and we cried together, knowing this would be only the first of the tears
that would be shed over their brother's loss.
- From then on, things went quickly. There were details to be taken care of, a funeral to
plan, viewings to arrange, people to greet, television and newspaper interviews to give;
the next few days were a whirlwind of activity, but when it was all over, several hundred
people had come to hear about this remarkable young man, to share our grief, and to say
goodbye to one whom they loved so well. Two of his friends drove non-stop from Tennessee
to get to Richmond before the viewing ended on Friday. They arrived just before closing,
and brought with them mementos from Tennessee, and the best wishes of William's friends.
William was buried with, among other things, a guitar strap, innumerable guitar picks,
photos, and two feathers, one from each of his best bird friends, our birds Rocky and
Friday. Each item was lovingly and carefully sent with him into eternity, for without him,
our tangible possessions and trinkets seemed hollow.
- The eulogy was given by Pastor Paul Goodman of Mechanicsville Christian Center. The text
can be found on the Other Memorials page accessible from the Main page. My uncle, Rev.
Gene Jenkins from Tallahassee, Florida preached, and I finished up with a final word. The
text of this is also posted on the Other Memorials page.
- The funeral over, the goodbyes said, the casket finally closed and on its way, we drove
with William on his final journey. To the mountains he loved to ski upon, we escorted him.
And on Saturday, August 16, 1997, one month before his seventeenth birthday, after some
final words at the graveside, we buried our boy on the side of a mountain in his
grandmother's church cemetery. It is a beautiful place of rest and calm, and in the fall,
the leaves will celebrate creation with the characteristically vibrant colors of the
Shenandoah Mountains. And as I walked away up the hill from the men taking down the tents
and pulling up the fake grass which vainly tries to hide the fact that the next step in
the process requires nothing more than common dirt, the words an angel spoke two thousand
years ago came to my mind, "He is not here, he is risen." And I was at peace.
- William's memory will live in many hearts and minds for a very long time. He is leaving
this world a richer place than when he arrived. Evil, hatred, greed, and envy cannot equal
the power of a good and kind heart. So it is with William's heart, his legacy will live
on. His memory will linger here like sweet mountain air. Not quite able to be touched, but
capturing our attention with its fragrance, recalling to us some long-forgotten thought or
feeling and reminding us, in the end, it is better to have lived our lives well than not
Goodbye, my son. We will miss you for the rest of our lives.
And when one day, when it comes time for us to join you,
keep a list of all those cool things you have found
so that you can show us around when we arrive.
Your love for me was a special joy,
and mine for you was a life all to its own.
If now I may only love you in death,
may that love be the best of all that I could ever give.
A Father's Grief
My son has died before me now,
One bullet, he was gone.
Alone, I often think about
Just how he's getting on.
He has all joy, no sadness grave
His sorrow's given peace.
God's visage now unveiled to him,
His soul has been released.
To leap upon real meadows green,
To fish in silver streams,
To ski atop the cumulus,
To realize his dreams.
I hope his antics give him time
With all there is to see,
To take for just a moment's pause
A backwards look at me.
I do have joy, but sadness deep
I'll trust God with my lack,
But though my sorrow's given peace,
I want my William back.
Compared to his eternal home
The meadows here are gray,
The streams and oceans muddy brown,
And life is but decay.
The sky's cerulean hue is dun,
The sun is cold as stone,
My memories will have to serve,
For William's been sent home.
And as I ponder these sad thoughts
God's word comes sweet and clear,
"I redeem the tragedies,
And I'll always be near."
"I'll bring good from what is evil,
I'll even make you strong.
And as long as you remember him,
William will live on."
So, before me is a crossing path
Mountains to the right,
A valley to the left, but straight
Ahead goes out of sight.
I take a step along the straight
Tentative, then two,
And in my ear, God's quiet voice,
"I'm walking here with you."
And armed with sense of purpose sure,
I'll walk along this road.
Looking neither right nor left,
But steady on I'll go.
And when I reach my journey's end
And put my burden down,
William will be waiting there,
"Dad, see what I have found!"
Then together we'll leap on meadows green,
We'll fish in silver streams,
We'll ski down clouds of frosty white
And share each other's dreams.
And heaven will be heaven sure,
Reunited with my son,
When work is over, it's time to play,
In memory of my beloved son, William
Out of danger now.
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