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The Tragic Loss of Children

Linton and Jan Weeks are parents who did all that mattered right. Linton is a name some of you probably recognize. He was a longtime Washington Post writer who now works as a correspondent for NPR.

As much of the parenting blogging world has focused their sights on the tragedy of a mother driving the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway in New York, killing herself, her two daughters, her three nieces and three other adults, I've been just as horrified at the tragic loss of the Weeks's two sons, Stone and Holt.

Nearly three weeks ago, the boys were stopped in traffic, driving home from their college town of Houston, when a tractor-trailer plowed their stopped car from behind, forcing it underneath the truck in front of them before a fire set it ablaze. The brothers and their dog died.

At the boys' funeral, teachers, coaches and employers all painted the same picture: Two boys who adored each other and their parents. Boys who could talk to adults and kids alike. Boys who put the world ahead of themselves. Boys who made others laugh. Their parents "steered them to a service-first mentality" Stone's former teacher and basketball coach Al Hightower told about 1,500 mourners at the National Cathedral, noting that the Stone's outlook was far different than the usual "me first" mentality.

Holt's principal at Walter Johnson High School told of a boy who didn't take himself too seriously, but took the world seriously. He was a young man who bragged about his parents and his brother, Chris Garran said.

Imagine: Two boys so grounded, so loved, so selfless and so family-oriented that their family was often on the tips of their tongues. Boys who fought for charities and for the little guys. Boys only in their 20s who knew how to make an impact.

Even in this time of mourning, Stone and Holt's parents are working to carry on their sons' legacies. "The sole goal of The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation is to make the world a better place for all," says a Web page for a charitable foundation created in their memory.

While I don't personally know the Weeks family, their lessons are grounded in my heart. I can only hope to raise my two sons to be the kind of men their sons were.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  August 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
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Comments


Cannot even begin to fathom their pain. Cannot imagine how they can even breathe! This story is what makes the world so scary. You can do everything right and still end up with tragedy!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | August 10, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

As the parent of 2 young boys, this story hits close to home. I cannot imagine what I would do if I lost one of them, much less both of them at the same time. My deepest condolences to the Weeks family.

It is really scary how tragedy can strike at any time. A family from our church had a tragedy happen recently where their teenage daughter got hit by a car while riding her bike and they don't know yet if she will be OK. I found myself having this curiosity over the details of what happened so I can prevent it from happening to my children, but then I realized that you cannot protect them from everything, and that is what is so frightening. All we can do is take reasonable precautions and hope for the best. And then try to enjoy every day we have with our children.

Posted by: StatsMom | August 10, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Correct statsmom.

It's completely tragic. It shows us how precious our time is with our loved ones. We all need to just enjoy what we have and sometimes, just hope for the best.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 10, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

This is very sad and my condolences to the family.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | August 10, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I am so sorry for both of the families mentioned here.

Posted by: newsahm | August 10, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

My greatest fear is that I might lose one of my kids. I feel awful for the families mentioned in this story.

Posted by: floof | August 10, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I am so sincerely sorry for their loss. What a tragedy.

Posted by: Shandra1 | August 10, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

We will keep the Weeks in our thoughts and prayers. Our deepest sympathies.

Posted by: ishgebibble | August 10, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Heartbreaking.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 10, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

My deepest sympathies to the Weeks family. I think the loss of a child is something that you never fully get over. It is just beyond tragic. We should all go home and hug our kids extra tight today.

Posted by: foamgnome | August 10, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Our sympathies to both the families.

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | August 10, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Gene Weingarten mentioned them in his chat recently:


My colleague is Linton Weeks. His sons were Stone and Holt Weeks. Twenty-four hours after their death, their first cousin, Lou Weeks, wrote something on a special Facebook page in their honor. I find it overpowering, and true, and to the point. I am reprinting it here with Mr. Weeks's permission.

Ode to Beautiful Young Men (Now Old and Retired)

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -- Howard Thurman

There are no words, no thoughts,

No songs, no speeches.

No medicine to heal the wound.

The earth is off-kilter.

Time lurches about.

Was anyone ever as alive as these two redheaded young men?

Stone and Holt did not want this.

They did not want a detour, a dangerous highway, and a massive truck.

They wanted so much more:

Passion, purpose, torrid romance, historic causes,

Strong opinions, long conversations,

Music, sports, dogs, books.

Let it be so.

Let us write a better ending.

Good husbands and fathers of large families.

Builders, teachers, leaders.

Happily retired after successful careers.

Stone wrote many books, and appears occasionally as a commentator on The Nightly News Hour to give his unique perspective on the day's events.

Holt was elected to Congress from his adopted state of Texas, where he authored legislation to protect the environment, and to improve schools in impoverished communities.

They are getting together for breakfast, these old men, at their favorite diner.

Look-you can see them.

Listen, what are they saying?

They are waving us over-

Hang on, guys, we'll be there soon.

_______________________

UPDATED 7.30.09

Posted by: newengland1 | August 10, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

The "Ode" is beautiful and it brought me tears.

My condolences to the Weeks family.

My greatest fear is not the death of my children (perhaps unfathomable?) but that I will die and leave them alone, without a mother. That is my greatest nightmare.

Posted by: GoodHome | August 10, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Darn it! I spent a good chunk of last week in tears, because a dear, dear woman had finally received a diagnosis after six weeks in the hospital with an unindentified respiratory problem/failure. The diagnosis was lung cancer, stage 4, inoperable.

Today, I got the news that my friend was finally strong enough to be released, and she's back home with her darling husband.

And then I read of this family's tragedy, and here I sit, crying at my desk again.

Posted by: SueMc | August 10, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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