Ride Honors 2 Beloved Teens Killed In A Wreck
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Bynum. She is the mother of Justin Bynum, who at age 19, died three years ago in an automobile accident, along with his girlfriend, 18-year-old Emily Ellis of Bullard.
She came in to tell me about the memorial ride held in the couple's honor each year. The ride, in which many friends and family members of the young couple participate, was held on Saturday.
Ms. Bynum is unlike most people I interview.
Most people I interview want to promote a cause.
I thought to myself that this couple must have been the victims of a drunken driver or that they died because they were hit but someone texting instead of paying attention.
I asked whether this ride was being held to draw attention to some cause.
She shook her head.
I learned later that Justin and Emily were passengers in the car. According to the DPS, when the driver moved over to the side of the road to give an oncoming car more room, the driver went off the pavement and lost control. The car struck a mailbox and flipped landing on its roof.
Justin died at the scene and Emily a few days later. Two others in the car survived. It was an accident - a horrible, horrible accident. Nothing more. There is no cause to promote. No lesson to learn.
Most people come to the newspaper because they want to raise money.
I asked how much does it cost to participate. I thought to myself: "OK here it comes, there is always someone making a buck off of something like this."
She said that it was free and that all anyone had to do was show up and get in line. No charge. No passing an offering plate. Not writing a check.
She emphasized that everyone was welcome and that it didn't matter whether they had known Justin and Emily.
Most people want to promote themselves.
I thought to myself, "what do you get out of this?"
She explained that shortly after Emily and Justin's death, their friends organized the first ride and that their friends - not the parents - are the ones who keep it going.
"Everybody was hurting when Justin and Emily died. They (their friends) lost someone special also. ... This is a comfort to them."
She said that for her ride the ride is a celebration of life.
"The first year (of the ride) there was a lot of sadness and a lot of grieving. It was tough. But now it brings a joyful feeling."
Ms. Bynum told me that the worst thing she could imagine is people not talking about her son and Emily.
"Some people don't want talk about their own children in front of you when they know that you have lost a child. Don't do that. It's OK. I want people to know that's OK."
She says there is not a single day in her life that she doesn't think about Justin and Emily and how special they were to so many people.
She must have sensed how uncomfortable I felt. I am the father of two boys that are about the same age Justin was when he died. I can't fathom what it must like to lose a child to tragedy.
"Death is not an awful thing to talk about. It can be a joyful thing. There is joy that they are not forgotten."
When I asked Ms. Bynum to tell me a little bit about Justin and Emily, her face lit up.
"They were God-fearing. God came first in their lives. They were very family oriented. They would do anything for their friends that they could do."
I asked if she thought they would have married.
She nodded her head yes.
Somehow I managed not to cry.
Contact Danny Mogle at email@example.com