Saturday, July 21, 2012

It was a Sunday evening.

The caller identified himself as the sheriff from the  Brookings 911. The time was 5:30 p.m on Sunday, July 17, 2011.

Are you Rosaria Williams? 
We need to talk to you. 
What is this about? Can't you tell me on the phone?
Do you still live on Circle Drive?
I never lived on Circle Drive. You must have the wrong Rosaria Williams.
Your birthdate is...
We need to talk to you. We'll be there in a half hour with the local police car.

I immediately thought someone had been impersonating me, had committed some crime or other, and the police was coming over to take me to jail. Ken, I said, as I changed and put shoes on, Ken, follow us to the county jail and bail me out.

Within fifteen minutes the local police was in our driveway. Officer Rose was alone. He always joked with us on the streets of Port Orford, in his patrol car, as Ken and I took our daily walks.
He asked if my husband was home. I called for Ken to join us in the living room.

Sit down, were his first words.
What is it? I still thought he had a warrant and was trying to be friendly before he  took me away.
I have bad news. Your son Brian was found dead this morning.
You must have the wrong person.
Brian Williams, from Fullerton.
He must be some other Brian Williams. My son lives in Long Beach.
I want you to talk to detective Malone from the Fullerton Police Department. He can provide you with details. Here is his number.

Ken called the Fullerton Police Department. His face was somber and tense. He listened for a while, and then took down some names and numbers. He looked at me and nodded.

It must be a mistake. How tall is this person? Ask them that. Ask how much he weighs! I was now shouting at Ken, angry at him for taking the other's words as facts. No way, I kept saying. No way. He'd be with Janet, with other friends. Who was he with? What happened?

Ken kept talking on the phone. I kept looking at him and shaking my head.

When the call ended, Ken shared these facts:

Brian was at a party next door to Kalen's brother's apartment. After the party, a neighbor got angry, followed Brian out the door and hit him hard, causing him to land flat on the pavement. The police thought there had been a fight. Kalen and his brother took him home to sleep. The next morning, Brian couldn't be roused, and the boys called 911.

We could have left for Long Beach the same night, but Ken needed refills on his meds, and we waited for the next morning before deciding how to travel.
We called our other children.
We walked to our neighbor to alert her of our situation.
We left messages cancelling appointments coming up.
We cleaned house.
We left messages at the Coroner's office to learn more.
We packed.

The next day we drove our SUV south, to gather Brian's animals and things, and to plan for his funeral. I was on the phone the entire trip, talking to my children, to Janet, police, coroner, funeral arrangements.

By the time we arrived in Long Beach we were exhausted. Neighbors met us at the door.

The place was clean; the animals well cared; the refrigerator and freezer totally stocked, thanks to Janet. She had a detailed design of the Memorial when she joined us a few hours later. We were united on this goal, as people began to show up that same evening to talk about Brian,  to express their sympathies.

For the next three weeks, our energies went to support the work of the many volunteers organized by Janet, to order materials and tools, to select plants, to meet with police, funeral personnel, Brian's work,  to share meals with as many people as remained late in the evenings after it was too dark to work.

Johnny, the neighbor boy who kept walking Butters for us, kept showing up with more tools, more materials that were needed. He and his family were there for us every step of the way. Neighbors put up with a lot of noise; with people coming and going; with cars lined up all over the place; with dump trucks being delivered empty and picked up full; with materials being delivered.

After the funeral and memorial, after the house was emptied of furniture and goods, after Butters was adopted, after the garden was completed, after the last dump truck was filled, Ken and I turned the house key to the bank that held the mortgage, packed a few things, and with Newkie whining in her cage, we deposited the probate materials with our son Scott who would later deliver them to the attorney, and  headed back home,  north to Oregon, to a quiet time to mourn.

This morning, as usual, we talked about Brian. We'll be talking about him until we can't talk anymore.


  1. There are no words, Rosaria. We tell our stories, over and over again, trying to make sense out of them. But there are really no words to convey the reality. So keep talking...knowing there are so many ears to hear the words and hold them preciously.

  2. Yes, keep talking about him until you can't talk anymore. There is healing in doing that.

    My heart breaks anew for you for the senseless loss of such a young man.

    I can relate all too well with what you have written. Those moments and days are frozen in time for me just as they must be for you. All I remember is that as long as I kept moving, planning, and talking to others, I was able to hold on to some sort of sanity that allowed me to try and make sense of what had happened when I lost my daughter.

  3. Rosaria this is such a sad post and my feelings go out to you. I know just how it feels to loose a loved one, but your son who should outlive you is quite different. You will never forget, and to talk about him is the best cure. Remember all the good times, my thoughts are with you.

    Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.
    --Rabindranath Tagore--

    Take care and god bless, Diane

  4. I was crying halfway through this, that night was painted so vividly. I'm so incredibly sorry for your loss, and for the world's loss of Brian. What a senseless act of violence. My heart hurts over this. I hope you can continue to share and to heal.

  5. Oh Rosaria. I wish I could just hug you.
    I've been hesitant to read these posts because the memory of my son getting hit and falling to the pavement and ending up in hospital last October is still so vivid . He had a temporal lobe skull fracture and a few spots of brain bleed , but has completely recovered aside from some hearing loss.
    We just never know . We just never know.
    Keep talking and writing .