Last Saturday at this time, I was getting ready to attend the funeral services for the Myers/Burch family with a heavy heart. Pamala Burch Myers, beloved wife and mother, her son, 16 year old Michael Myers and Pamala’s brother, Todd Burch had all lost their lives in a tragic automobile accident on Dec. 26, 2015.
What did I know about this family? Absolutely nothing, although I did very vaguely remember the Burch family from my much childhood. But let’s face it, that was almost 40 years ago, and I have a terrible memory. But still I felt compelled to pay my respects.
I arrived to see the caskets being carried into the sanctuary by the Pallbearers. Three hearses at one funeral…the very thought was just heartbreaking.
As I entered the sanctuary at Ashland First Baptist, seeing those three caskets surrounded by beautiful flowers hit me like a ton of bricks. What a terrible, unexplainable loss this was to this circle of family and friends. How would they ever overcome this tragedy and fill the void of the presence of these fallen family members/friends once held in their lives? This was a worst nightmare…
My eyes were drawn to the soft glow of lights of the beautifully decorated Christmas trees that stood regally among the colorful flowers surrounding the caskets. And although these symbolic trees stood in essence of the Christmas season, it was also a sad reminder of how this family would never look at another holiday season the same.
As I sat among the crowded pews during this service, I learned more about Pamala, Michael, and Todd from those who knew them best and just hearing their stories made my heart ache for their loss. It was clear to see that the world had lost some amazing life warriors.
I learned that Robert and Pam had made the choice to bring Michael into their home at the age of six, and make him one of their own, making a profound impact on his life by showing him how good life could really be. Michael thrived in his new home and it showed. He was always smiling and preferred to be in his family’s presence, even when he reached his teenage years, a time when most kids find it “uncool” to be seen with family. Friends and family say that Michael was always inspiring and saw everything in a positive light.
Pamala was described as nothing short of an Earth Angel. Following in her mother, Shirley Burch’s footsteps, she chose to open her own salon, where she worked side-by-side with her mother every single day. Her presence was a vibrant and brilliant, as her she embraced each day with a new vigor. There was no such thing as a stranger to Pamala, just someone she hadn’t met, and she would waste no time in drawing you into her fold.
Her best friend, Lynn Young, shared a remarkable experience involving Pamala that captured the true essence of her life. In September 2015, Pamala witnessed a terrible car accident, involving a mother and her 15 yr old daughter, who was driving the vehicle. Due to her inexperience, The young driver had made a gross error in judgement resulting in a head-on collision. Her mother was seriously injured. Wasting no time, Pamala rushed upon the horrific scene and tore open the door where the mother lay unconscious and fading. With one hand, Pamala ripped the deployed airbag from her face and began literally screaming at the woman repeatedly, “Lady, I don’t know where you are right now, if you’re in that long tunnel or at those Pearly Gates, but you better get yourself back here, because your 15 yr old daughter can’t live for the rest of her life knowing that she killed her mother!” Details about the woman’s injuries weren’t given in this memory, but it was told that she was still alive today.
Todd’s Business partner spoke of how Todd, or James as he called him, had touched his life in the brief time that he knew him, referring to his as his brother. Todd was described as a “unrecognized genius” who had built an engine that ran solely off of hydrogen and was in the midst of sharing it with the world, instead of making money off of it.
As I left the service, I took one last look at the beautiful slate that sat on a table in the foyer with Pamala, Todd, and Michael’s smiling faces on it and said yet another silent prayer for this family’s journey from this point on. It would be a long, hard road ahead as they struggled to make sense and to cope with such a tremendous loss.
At the grave site, the three caskets lay side by side in preparation for eternal rest under the tent surrounded by family and friends was a heart-rending sight. The three doves that were released as a symbolic message seemed reluctant to leave as they leisurely strolled around the grave site. One sat atop the tent as those in attendance sang the “Amazing Grace” hymn. Shirley Burch said a tearful good-bye as she kissed each casket that held such precious cargo. She had lost everything, and although the thought that she would be re-united with them one day was reassuring, the painful reality of this moment was almost too much to bear.
So, what do we take from this senseless tragedy? We know that God’s plan is never something we should question, but at times like this, it was hard to do. But somehow, some way, there was a reason behind this tragic loss that is just a small piece of the Grand Design. Please remember this family in your prayers, as they take on a new existence. Their grief of this sudden loss will be a mountain to overcome. If anyone is interested in donating to the burial expenses, you can click on this link:
I would like to recognize Ellen Sewell, owner of the beautiful Brown Gables in Ashland, who so graciously took in the Burch/ Myers family during this time free of charge. Also, to Clay County Funeral Home for such a warm, lovely service.