“Boy….struck…vehicle…” The words cut to my heart, bringing instantaneous tears as I read the newspaper headline.
That was 3 ½ weeks ago, when I learned that 12-year-old Curtis Holter had been hit by a truck and killed while biking across a busy Faribault street.
Yesterday I received a thank you from his family, including photos of the boy with the wavy hair, broad smile and friendly eyes. Although I had never met Curtis, I could see in the photos his joyful spirit and the promise of the man he would become.
He was, obviously, loved.
That became even more apparent in the letter his family wrote thanking those who have supported and surrounded them during the difficult days since losing Curtis. I had sent condolences to the Holter family.
“On the night before Curtis died, he layed (sic) down beside me on my bed. I stroked his hair, running my fingers through it and we were making plans for MEA,” the letter reads.
Tears surfaced as I recalled the many times I’ve stroked my son’s hair, the many times I’ve embraced him, felt his ribs and backbone in the thinness of his stretching adolescent body.
“On the second week we embraced everything about Curtis. We picked up his dirty clothes, we washed them, we folded them, we hung them as he would. We sat in his room looking around and cried.”
I wept more tears for the mother and father, for the brothers and sister who are left without Curtis.
I wept because I have walked perilously close to the path the Holters have walked. My son was struck by a hit-and-run driver 3 ½ years ago while crossing the street to his bus stop. He was 12 years old, just like Curtis.
But unlike Curtis, my son survived and was not even seriously injured.
Yet, in some small way, I can understand the pain of Brad and Patty Holter, who lost their son on Sept. 30. For a short time, between being made aware of the accident and confirmation that my then 12-year-old was OK, I feared the worse. Over and over I repeated and pleaded: “Lord, please, not my baby. Lord, please, not my baby.”
Unless you have lived in that moment, it is almost impossible to convey the overwhelming feeling of heart-piercing agony.
In the face of their overwhelming loss, the Holters have remained strong in their faith. And they have a message for others: “I want to encourage each of you to embrace one another, do not be afraid to talk to us in public. It’s ok. If you cry, it’s ok. God gave us tears for a reason.”
CURTIS COLLIN HOLTER, the son of Bradley and Patricia (Bussert) Holter, was born on Nov. 4, 1996, in St. Paul, Minn. Curtis currently was in seventh grade at the Faribault Middle School, where he was involved in band. He was greatly involved in his church’s youth group, which has done many volunteer and service projects in Faribault, including Shine 2009. He also was very involved with Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Faribault. Curtis loved animals and cared for two dogs and his own cat at home. He played baseball as a youth and enjoyed riding bikes near his home with neighbors. He enjoyed playing in the woods at home and sliding in the winter with his family. Curtis was well liked by many and will always be remembered for his great smile and laugh.
Special thanks to Brad and Patty Holter, who allowed me to share their story, photos of their precious son and a portion of his obituary with the readers of Minnesota Prairie Roots. Their courage, strength and faith have been an inspiration to me. Blessed be the memory of Curtis Collin Holter, who, on Nov. 4, would have become a teenager.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Photos © Copyright 2009, Artistic Photography, Inc., Brad and Patty Holter, Faribault, Minn.