My Billy, 34 Killed in a Refinery Explosion

by Beverly Badgley
(Wynnewood, Oklahoma)

My son, Billy Guy Smith, was killed September 28, 2012, when a boiler exploded at the local oil refinery where he was employed. Billy was 34 years old when he was killed. 31 of those 34 years he was a single, confirmed bachelor. He married at age 31, becoming an instant father to three stepchildren. Two years after marrying his wife, Kari, they had Rogan Garrett. He was 13 months old when his father was killed. I have one other, unmarried adult son, Steven. He is 29 years old. I raised these two boys by myself, although Billy’s father was involved during his formative years. Steven’s father was not. We were extremely close, I believe almost more so than most mothers and sons. Our town is small, 2200 in population. The night of the explosion they “blew the fire whistle” that is, they set off the sirens that warn of inclement weather or call out our volunteer fire department. We knew almost immediately that something had occurred at the refinery, and within the hour I knew it was Billy, although everyone said two had been critically injured. I immediately left town, going to Kari and the children. (Billy and his wife had moved 8 miles away when they married.) I had no desire to even go to the refinery, as I knew that Billy had left this earth and he would want me with Kari. I had to make most of the funeral arrangements, as Kari was unable to function. My other son, Steven and I functioned in a fog, arranging the funeral, greeting guests, supporting Kari. More than 600 people attended his funeral, a testament to his character and loveable personality. It has been horribly difficult since the funeral. I am in a position in our town of leadership and authority, people look to me to be strong, and I am. However, I find myself, 5 months later slipping into depression. I have a very deep faith in God and his strength, and realize that He left me here to complete whatever plan He has for me. But, I have to make myself function daily. It would be very easy for me to just lock myself into my home and not leave. I realize this will pass in time, that it takes putting one foot in front of the other to get through something as traumatic as losing a child, even an adult child. Billy was just starting to really live his life, having married someone he truly loved, co-parenting three stepchildren and finally having one of his own. It is a struggle for me to accept that there is a plan out there, greater than our own comprehension. I know I will make it, but it has made me realize how trivial our day-to-day expectations of life are to God. This life is only a time of service, both to God and our fellow earthly inhabitants, and I am more than willing to serve. However, should God call me home tomorrow, I would be ready to go.

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Mar 03, 2013
My Billy, 34 Killed in a Refinery Explosion
by: Doreen U.K.

Beverley I am sorry for your loss of an Adult Child in a tragic accident of a sudden death. You are truly an amazing woman full of Faith in God and with a Strength that could only have been borne of deep Faith and Trust in God. You are like that perfect tapestry God is weaving of each of our lives with all the knots which represent our tribulations in life that are sent to refine us and prepare us for eternal life. I feel blessed by how you posted your story of hope through your loss of your precious son.
I do believe as you do that we are here for a purpose and we don't know why God takes some of our loved one's from us before we are ready to let them go. Our children are only loaned to us by God. He owns us all. We are mere managers and trustees of who and what God has given to us. Your son has returned to God who gave him to you. You have reared him in a God fearing way and He must have been a blessing to you and his family as You were to him as his Mom.
God knows we have to dwell on the earth and He won't give us more pain than we can bear but will make a way of escape so we shall be able to bear it. May you be Blessed deeply by God in this remainder of your life here on earth as you become a Blessing to others each day. May God strengthen You in the days and months ahead and bring you Peace.

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