Early one morning, several years ago, my telephone rang and on the line was my Son, Captain John Coleman Jr., late of Falcon Squadron CAP out of Queens, New York. He called to tell me that he and the members of his squadron were at the site of the air crash of TWA Flight 800 in Queens, New York. He was very, very moved by the tragic accident and needed to talk. I listened and offered condolences to the many unknown persons affected by this tragedy. He ended the conversation because the Squadron needed him.
On the 30th of May 1999, at 3:30 a.m., I received a call on my phone to allow the LAPD Ofï¬cers into my building. They had come to tell me that my only child, Captain John Coleman had been killed in a plane crash the day before. He was the passenger. It was four days before his 54th birthday. At the time of the crash I was mailing his birthday gift anticipating his receiving it in time. How do I know? – l checked my watch to ascertain that the post ofï¬ce was still open–it was l:30 p.m. on Saturday, the 29th of May. His plane fell out of the sky at 4:30 p.m. in New Jersey”I live in California… Three hours different.
My niece, Diana, suggested that I contact a grief support group. She contacted of all people, Heidi Snow at ACCESS. How ironic that our paths should cross for similar reasons”the loss of a loved one! Ms. Snow called me from New York and gave me support and directions on who to contact and how to deal with my grief. I became a member of Our House, the group that has been my rock! The segment that I am a part of is – Loss of an Adult Child. Truly without hesitation I have survived because the members are “there” for me. We are “there” for each other. We’ve become like family. We LISTEN to each other, we HUG, and we LISTEN.
John, my only child, I will never get over his death. I miss him, I cant call him to hear his voice answering or on the machine. I am hurt beyond belief, I am angry that he was taken from me especially at my age. It is contrary to the usual order where children outlive their parents. I really dont want to ” get over it”. As great as this loss is I have come to realize how, at this crucial time, friends, family and “people” fall to the wayside. How easily they reject, shun and avoid you. Leave you without the support you so desperately need. I know John would say, Ma, let it go! He would not want me to grieve so hard. But I also know he would feel just as I do had it been me.
He died doing what he loved- He once told me, “Ma, you have no idea how you feel up there in the sky it’s unexplainable. Everything having to do with ï¬‚ying… He was an Air Force volunteer for a four-year stint, an Air Traffic Controller upon release for several years and part of the CAP Rescue Team. I am enclosing a photo of my Guy and remembering him on Memorial Day. A day Ill never – ever be able to forget for its multiple signiï¬cance “ a week of death and birth May 29th and June 3rd. I look to the sky every chance I get and talk to him. A plane is always somewhere to be seen. One trailing a smoke screen or just going by. Clouds of all descriptions, rainbows, and beautiful sunsets”all allow me to communicate with him. As I close my Memorial to Johnny I extend my sincerest wishes to all of you who have lost a love-one, may you someday find whatever it is that will help you to carry-on.
Elayne Coleman, CA, lost her son Captain John Coleman, 53, on May 29, 1999 aboard a Piper Aircraft in NJ