Dennis Apple (DA): Denny that night wanted to sleep on the couch. He had mono, but he was a strong, fit kid—so I really didn’t think anything was seriously wrong. The next morning, I didn’t hear him breathing.
Buelah Apple (BA): You yelled for me to call 911.
DA: Yeah. My younger brother, who is an EMT, he came running out, put his head to his chest, and he said, ”Dennis, he’s gone.”
It was like somebody threw a bucket of ice-cold water into my face while I was at a dead sleep. I was on my knees, and I screamed out, ”Oh God, this is not supposed to happen to me.”
When we came back home for the first time by ourselves, I remember we pulled into the garage and neither one of us wanted to go in the house. I looked at you, and I said, ”You know, all I have to do is reach up and hit the garage door opener on the visor, let the door come down, let the car stay running, and we can just hold hands and just die right here together.”
You remember what you said to me?
BA: I said, ”Yes, but what about our son, Andy? He needs us.”
BA: I know after the funeral, we both went back to work, but you had to go and be a pastor and do funerals and weddings.
DA: Oh yeah. You know, it really got me when people would come by and would tell me stories about narrowly missing being killed in an accident and they’d say, “But my guardian angel protected me.”
And I just wanted to slam the door in their face and walk out, because I thought, “where was Denny’s guardian angel the night of February the 6th?”
BA: The grief lasts a lot longer, I think, than most people think.
DA: Yeah, I remember you went down all the way to a size four and I thought, “My God, I’m going to lose her too.” I thought, “Man, we’ll never make it.”
But somehow we trudged along.
BA: I’m glad we did.
BA: It was 5 years before I came to myself and I said, “Am I going to go on in this heavy grief, or am I going to try to live and be as happy as I can?”
DA: When I said, ”Honey, if you’d a known when we had Denny that we would have him just short of 19 years, would you go back and do it all over again?” You remember what you said, don’t you?
BA: Yeah. I said, ”Of course I would. All over again.”
DA: Yeah, a million times.