Rinze enjoyed music and wanted to be a DJ. He also loved to travel and was a very happy person. Even on a gloomy day, he always had a smile on his face and everybody sought his advice.

That Friday was a normal work day. He got off work before me but came back at 4:30 p.m. to pick me up. We went to the grocery store. He got his favorite, macaroni and cheese and tuna. We talked about the parties he was going to that evening and then he started playing his Call of Duty game. I went to my bedroom to watch TV.

An hour later, Rinze came into my room and said, “I’m going to get a haircut. Can I use your car?”
I said, “Yes, be careful.” The weather had already started getting bad.
He came back later and said, “Mom, question.”
“Son, answer.”
“Do people tip for haircuts?”
“Some do and some don’t.”
“Okay, I’ll be back.”

He left to tip the gal who had cut his hair and then called to tell me he was heading over to a party. I told him to be safe and that I loved him. His last words to me were, “I love you and I’ll be safe.” No matter where he was going or what he was doing I always said, “Be safe.”

The night went on. About 11:00 p.m. I tried calling his phone, but it had died. I called one of his friends who answered but said Rinze was in the middle of a game and would call me back. I finally fell asleep. Between 1 and 2 a.m., I woke up for a bit, looked at my phone, and didn’t see a call back. I knew he was going to the gun show with his dad at 7:00 a.m. so I figured he was just spending the night at his friend’s house. I went back to sleep.

There was a knock at the door. I thought, “Ah, Rinze, you forgot your key or lost it somewhere,” but on the doorstep stood two officers. They asked me if I knew where my car was.

“Yes, my son, Rinze, has it.”
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but we could not save your son.”
“What? No, he has my car and he’s at a friend’s house!”
“At 4:32 this morning we had a report of a car that lost control and hit a tree.”

It took them two hours to get him out of the car. The officer thought he lost control of the car due to slush on the top of the hill. He was dead on site. They tried everything to resuscitate him.

I was just beyond myself. I went to the hospital and identified him. I gave him a big old hug, held his hand and told him I was sorry.

It was in the middle of June when the police report came back. My son had alcohol in his body when he crashed.

Please, stay the night or call a cab, but never drive home if you have been drinking. It’s not fair to the people who love you. It has been a really rough road. I know we all grieve in our own way, but I just miss him. He had so much life in him. One of the hardest things is going home and he’s not there. It’s awful, like a really bad dream that I’m never going to wake up from.

Please, stay the night or call a cab, but never drive home if you have been drinking. It’s not fair to the people who love you.

2011 Teen Memoriam