Allen, My Sweet Allen: The death of my oldest son
by Lydia Barber
(Daphne, Alabama USA)
I thought the two men walking down my driveway were politicians. It was 9:00 in the morning, I had just returned from Jackson (my 13 year old son's school in order to get something for a teacher there.) I was not dressed for politicians, shorts, tshirt, baseball cap, my usual, no I've not showered yet, and I didn't because any minute I might take a run, yeah right). So my dog, Shade, who has no tolderance for strangers walking down our driveway was, well barking like a crazy fiend! Too late, they know I'm here now. So I put Shade in the backyyard, take a deep breath, and walk to the door, I open it.
There are two men standing there. First think I notice is the nametag of the genteman on the right. It said Pastor Barber. I of course, have heard of Pastor Barber of the Eastern Shore Baptist Church for years. Funny thing is, some people though we were married, simply because my last name is Barber, Lydia Barber. So, I laughed and told him that short story. Then I notice the man on the left had a badge with Daphne Police Officer on it. That's when I started feeling, well, confused, strange, not really knowing what to think. I remember inviting them in and telling them the kitchen is more comfortable, the whole time thinking, and yes, I remember this, and forgive me Taylor (my 18 year old son attending South Alabama) What has Taylor done? Not that he got into a lot of trouble, it's just that lately a couple of things have happened to give me reason to wonder. So, we made it to the kitchen and the rest of this is pretty foggy. I remember asking what is going on and the police officer asked, "Do you have a son named Allen Mattew Barber who attends The University of Montevallo?" I said yes, without thinking, breathing. "I hate to inform you that he was found dead this morning in a park by a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head." I stood there for a second and felt my legs collapsing under me. I remember them catching me and them putting me on one of our stools around our kitchen island. There was a computer that only 15 minutes earlier, I was watching a Youtube video that Allen posted of him, Jackson and a couple of Jackson's friends singing Basketcase by Green Day. I listen to it all the time. I didn't have time to digest this, did he really say that? I had him repeat it, and I collapsed again with my head on the table. At that point, the phone rang and I heard it say Daphne High School. I had to get it. It was my good friend who works there and she said simply, "Is it true"? I didn't know what to say, all I did say was "How do you already know?" She said she would be right there. I later learned she still didn't know if it was Allen or Taylor because both stories were flying around like wild fire.
The rest of the day is, as you can imagine, you are watching TV and this is happening to somebody else. With technology the way it is, before I could even think of the horrendous news I was just given, I had to think about making sure my husband and my 2 sons do not find out before they hear it from a friend, website or TV. I asked them to please call Brother Steve from our church to help. Our church had just buried 2 of our parishoners in the last 6 weeks. A beloved father, Hendon and a sister of a friend of mine, Debra. He came immediately and we stared in each others eyes as to say, not again, please, not again. But Brother Steve, Pastor Barber and the officer (never found out his name) was so helpful to me in contacting my husband and making sure he was not alone when I told him the news. How I did that, I'll never know, but he had 4 very close friends who he works with with him. They were going to drive him home, about a 30 minute drive. Next, we had to get Taylor who attends college across the bay and the University of South Alabama. I tried to text and call him but he was actually in class. So we had USA officers stand outside the class. They eventually got him at his dorm and thank God his roommate was with him. Jeff told him, and his roommate drove him to the house. We had already called the principal at Jackson's Middle School and she and the teachers involved promised they would keep a bubble around him until they heard from us to bring him. Since Jeff and I were emotional wrecks, I got my solid as a rock friend, Cherie to pick him up and tell him, I wasn't feeling well and I asked her to go ahead and pick him up. So, Taylor made it to the house. so overwhelming, I can't make you understand, never, Jeff made it to the house and we hugged and hugged and cried in the middle of the room with friends all around doing the same. Then the reality hit that we had to tell Jackson, who adored his brothers. Allen played with him a lot when he came from college, he looked forward to his visits. Jackson walked in and Jeff immediately took him upstairs where Taylor and I were. Jeff told him Allen had a horrible accident and was shot while in Montevallo. We do not understand what happened now but we will try to find out. He took his blanket and laid on the bed with Taylor next to him and they wept. We all wept and tried to understand. But the truth is, we couldn't understand. He had just visited us over the past weekend. He spent a lot of time with us and we commented how happy he was and how he must really love Montevallo.
Allen was a wonderful singer, Bass 2 singer. Has the voice to match. Talked like Barry White and sang like him too. He tried out and made the Montevallo Chamber Singers consisting of 19 of the school's best singers. They were phenomenal and I am so grateful to have seen him at the 2 concerts they had in that first year and was looking forward to their third in November. It is now October 27th.
The whirlwind of family, friends, neighbors, coming and going over the next 2 days are hard to describe. I know I was in shock. I remember I kept saying "He was just here, he was just here." Then all the questions of any signs, and NOONE saw any signs. He was happy, he was happy.
To continue . . .