What was the worst day of your life? The day you were fired? Or the day the love of your life left you?
We’ve all had a bad day or two.
The morning of Wednesday, July 26, 2017, started fine, routine as usual. I had just gotten back from the gym and was in the kitchen, getting my protein shake. Zane wakes up to go to the bathroom, and I said good morning as he said it back. That would be the last time I would ever say “good” morning again.
That evening around 5 pm, my husband received a strange text from Zane while I was still at work, and he immediately called me. He sent my mother-in-law over to the house to check on Zane. By that time, I had left the salon, and I can remember the exact spot where I was on the Loop when I got the call.
I didn’t believe her.
I screamed at her and told her no. I pressed the gas pedal and slammed my head against the driver’s side window multiple times while pulling my hair. I turned on my flashers and drove 135mph from Lubbock to Levelland, and I wasn’t stopping. I’m not exaggerating; my car can go faster. I slightly remember making a few phone calls, but I honestly can’t think of who.
I pulled up to the house; there were many people, cars, a fire truck, ambulance, police, state troopers, neighbors, family, friends. Two years later, I now remember not even turning my car off and leaving the door open. I almost ran into the house, and I parked in the grass. Someone blocked the front door, so I couldn’t get in while someone else caught me as I fell to the ground. Some details are still vague; the next thing I knew, I was sitting in my sister-in-law’s car.
Several faces came to talk to me; others blocked the car to keep me from being bombarded while I curled up in a ball in the front seat. An officer told me he left a note, briefly told me what it said (to this day, we still have not opened the sealed envelope it is in to look at it).
I contacted Zane’s girlfriend and told her to get to the house immediately.
She got into the car with me. I read the last messages between the two. Unbelievable. So unbelievable, I can’t talk about it, but I will say all she had to do was call me hours before and let me know how he was feeling.
Then another slap in the face. Again, I can’t remember who it was, but I had to answer the most challenging question in my life, what funeral home?
My son was dead.
More and more people were showing up. My phone was going crazy. Facebook notifications were off the hook. Someone had already put it as their status that my baby was gone, and it was only about 6:15 pm by this time. He died around 5.
Soon I got a knock on the window; it was James from the funeral home. He was there to take care of my child. Oh, my God. The second hardest question of my life is, do you want to be able to see us take him out or block your view?
My son is really dead.
I told James to block me. I could not bear to see my son in a body bag. The next thing I know, everyone was surrounding the car and blocking the front door’s view. I figured out they were bringing my baby out. I curled back up in the seat. My eyes were so blurry I wouldn’t have been able to see anyway.
Finally, around 7:30ish, my husband made it to the house from the rig. He drove to a certain point; then, someone went to pick him up because he didn’t need to be driving.
We just held and looked at each other in total disbelief, both of us still in shock—two parents who are now lost. I remember him looking for Daniel and all three of us just crying together and breaking down. Seeing grown men cry is devastating. Joe lost his baby son. Daniel lost his baby brother.
Some time passed, and it started to get dark. We agreed to stay at my mother-in-law’s house. The police said the house was all clear, I needed my things, but the last thing I wanted to do was go in there. The only way into my bedroom was through the front door without going into the living room, so Joe blocked my view. The last time I saw the living room was that morning as I left for work. As I entered the front door, as I could smell was bleach. I was told three phenomenal ladies went into the house to clean it up before letting anyone else in.
I will forever be grateful for Kerri, Julie, and Shanna.
I can’t even remember whose car we left the house that night. I know it wasn’t mine. As we were backing out, I asked about the dogs; Joe said they are already at his mom’s. I was relieved. We headed over to continue a night of terror.
We stayed in my sister-in-law’s room that night, but as you can imagine, it was sleepless. We both continued making phone calls pretty much all night. Both of our phones were buzzing with calls, texts, or Facebook endlessly. I am sure the entire town of Levelland knew by 3 am on July 27.
As the morning light peaked, we were praying this was all a nasty nightmare, and we would wake up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a dream, and the worst day of my life still wasn’t over since I had not yet slept.
Still, in my PJs, hair an absolute mess, makeup smeared, or at least what was left from being cried off, I sat on the front porch with the family. I sat there in a lawn chair curled up in a ball, still in disbelief. My mother-in-law lives out in the country, so it’s generally quiet, but that Thursday morning, her neighbors decided otherwise, ironically.
Gunshots. I screamed in terror as I pulled my hair. Carmen ran to ask them to stop, explaining why. Thankfully they did. The sound of a gunshot terrifies me now. It was too soon.
I don’t remember the details between that incident and the time in the afternoon of going to the funeral home to make arrangements. I showered, how I don’t know.
We wanted everyone there with us because we knew we wouldn’t be able to make clear decisions.
Our families, best friends, and Zane’s friends were at the funeral home. I think I only made two reliable decisions on the arrangements: the casket and the music. I wanted the casket light enough for his friends and family to be able to write their goodbyes on it. I also wanted Sheldon, our tattoo artist, to give Zane one last piece of art on top, which he did.
The music was to be handled by his boys; they knew what he liked and listened to. We told them to set it up; I didn’t care what the playlist was (by the way, it was perfect. They selected 5FDP, Shinedown, Disturbed, etc.). For the rest of the decisions, I think I just okayed and went along with it. I was in too much of a daze.
We didn’t get to see him until the next day, so I decided what he was to wear after we left. Joe, Andy (my brother-in-law), and I went to the house going in the back door, so I only had to go into the laundry room. Zane had clothes in there in his cubby and hanging up. I chose his 5FDP t-shirt, his blue collared shirt he wore for Easter, his black Adidas, and a pair of his Levi’s (the only kind of jeans he wore, size 30/32). I couldn’t decide whether to put on his grey beanie or his Supra hat, so I grabbed both. Unfortunately for the situation, we needed to use one. I also got upset at myself later on for not getting his haircut when I said I would.
I stood there in the laundry room, clenching his clothes, and fell to the floor crying. Andy grabbed me and let me cry. My memory fades out after gathering Zane’s clothes.
I suppose this ends the worst day of my life, using the word end loosely. Having the strength to even move from the porch that next morning is questionable. There are many details from 5 pm July 26 to about 6 pm July 27 that have escaped my memory.