My Billy, 34 Killed in a Refinery Explosion
by Beverly Badgley
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.