Since our three children entered this world we have tried to protect them. Protect them physically and spiritually. We made our share of mistakes but we took our job as parents very seriously. God had entrusted and blessed us to raise these three wonderfully different little humans! Some days I did wonder if God thought it through or did he just have a really good sense of humor! Nevertheless, these little darlings were ours and we would give it our best! Our best of course meant putting their needs first. Feeding, clothing, disciplining, loving and protecting them. Clothing wasn’t to hard until they grew older. Clothes were more expensive and they seemed to grow overnight! Feeding not too bad initially either. They grew, their appetites grew and they brought friends with appetites! Disciplining was a challenge. Each required a different approach or form of disciple. Some required it more frequently! Loving them was by far the easiest and whether they knew it or not there was love involved in all we did. They might not have realized we loved them therefore we made them eat vegetables. We loved them therefore we made them wear a coat during days we thought it called for it. We loved them even as we punished them. We most certainly loved them by protecting them. Protecting them by not allowing them to go to homes we didn’t know the parents. Protected them by making them wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter. Protected them by getting their vaccinations and taking them for regular check-ups as well as when they were sick. Protected them by being involved in their lives and getting to know their friends. Protecting them by taking them to church and teaching them about Jesus and praying they would accept Jesus in their hearts and seek him always. Basically, our goal as parents was to do our very best to keep these beautiful gifts healthy and alive. At least that’s what we tried to do.
Our youngest son, Pierce entered our world just before midnight on August 4, 1996. He wasn’t due until the 14th but he and I were both ready. Or so we thought! He was healthy and made his entrance rather quickly and loudly! All those months spent cooped up in my belly listening to his two siblings, he had been taking notes! He must have decided he would give Avery and Connor a taste of their own medicine. Pierce was loud and he really liked to be heard usually when Avery and Connor were trying to go to bed! It lasted a few weeks but he eventually settled in and got everyone trained! Lol. We used to feel bad for Pierce because being the third child meant he was dragged to lots of school programs, basketball courts and baseball, softball, football and soccer fields. He definitely preferred being outside and anywhere there was a ball involved. Probably why he was never without some type of ball from then on! He had a natural ability and enjoyed any sport. To be slightly chubby during his middle school years he was agile but mostly he was always 100% involved! He was never distracted or daydreaming. Never halfhearted attempts. He was physically and mentally in to it! I guess that’s why we enjoyed watching him so much and why we allowed him to get involved in so many different sports. We knew he would give it his all! We also knew he had the ability to leave it on the field. He didn’t dwell on losses or mistakes and he didn’t gloat on wins and scores. I never really realized what an accomplishment that truly was! Both the Witts and Corcorans can be competitive so he could have easily been genetically robbed of good sportsmanship! Lol (We do have a few sore losers on both sides of our families!! Not naming names!Ha!)
Even after high school graduation Pierce continued to keep us busy. He decided to run a couple of marathons and we really enjoyed seeing him accomplish his goals. He was still living at home, working full time and had decided (with our encouragement) to save money and buy a house. Not to waste money on rent. After all, he basically had the house to himself. He had made Connor’s bedroom into his workout/computer room and Avery’s room was there for his friends to come whenever they wanted. There were many mornings we would wake up to several hairy, smelly bodies crashed in our den. It was a little awkward. After all they were grown men now. But these weren’t strangers. They were his high school friends and just like our own! We had grown to love these young men and Pierce loved spending time with them. These friendships are priceless.
We have many wonderful memories. 22+ years we must cling to. On December 29, 2018 our ability to make memories with Pierce was taken from us. At 6:33 p.m. Pierce’s car was hit head-on as an unlicensed, uninsured illegal alien crossed the double yellow centerline on Chapman Highway in our hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. The impact of the crash forced his 2017 Honda Civic into the path of two other vehicles sending his car across the highway to rest on a grassy embankment. Pierce’s girlfriend Jade was in the passenger seat. The illegal immigrant causing this multi-vehicle crash sat in his truck uninjured as others rushed to Pierce and Jade’s aid. We are told as they reached Jade she continually yelled at them to “Get him!” “Just get him!” meaning Pierce. Jade works in the University of Tennessee Hospital trauma unit so she knew time was precious and he was gravely injured. Pierce was pulled from the wreckage by many who stopped to help including the young man, Jordan, whose truck Pierce’s car was forced into its path. Pierce was pronounced dead at 7:08 p.m. We had failed to protect one of our precious gifts……
Jade suffered a broken nose,ribs, vertebrae and a broken heart. 😔. Amazingly, no others were injured. DJ was working in Memphis. I was home watching a football game with my Dad. Our doorbell rang and when I opened the door DJ’s boss, Chief Sharp was there with 2 other men. He asked to come in. My thoughts immediately went to DJ but it hadn’t been that long since we had spoken. Then Chief Sharp said Pierce had been in an accident …….. and he didn’t make it. I began to cry but I don’t remember much after hearing those words except immediately remembering my father was in the next room and thinking how was I going to tell him? Should I tell him? He’s going to know when he sees me. He came when he heard voices at the door. I think I blurted it out. My body or words were no longer mine. I must be having a bad dream! This isn’t real! I needed to get to Pierce. I had to be with him! He’s alone!!! Then I remembered Jade. They said she was going to be okay. I asked about others. They said no one else was hurt. I had no idea what happened. If Pierce had pulled in front of someone or what happened. I was thankful to hear no others were hurt. I knew I couldn’t call DJ and tell him over the phone while he was alone in a motel room hundreds of miles away. I asked his family to get someone to him so he wouldn’t be alone when he was told. The KFD Chaplain took my dad to get my mother and bring them to UTMC. I called our son in law Tim and told him to bring Avery to UTMC and what had happened. Connor was working in Nashville. Again, I didn’t want him to hear while alone. So his boss went to his room and told him to call us.
We arrived at UTMC. Avery and Tim were there waiting. We went in the trauma unit and our lives have never been the same. Seeing Pierce so very still. Intubated. A gash on the left side of his forehead. Grass in his hair. His ears blue. Our baby! Gone! I stroked his hair. Rubbed his face. Touched his strong shoulders. Kissed his forehead. Told him I loved him. Told him his dad loved him. Told him his brother loved him. Told him how sorry I was. Connor called as I was stroking Pierce’s head and I had to tell him his baby brother was gone. My heart was breaking for him to know I couldn’t hold him as he heard the worst words his young heart had known.
Many family arrived. Some stood back and sobbed. Others came to touch him and love him. His friends filled the room. Some still in shock, some sobbing and hugging each other. I don’t remember how long but Avery and I went to Jade. She was pitiful. Her tears. Her little body banged up. Her nose swollen. Her eyes overflowing with tears. I will never forget her eyes and the pain pouring from them. She wanted to go to Pierce so they got her in a wheelchair and we took her. It broke my heart to hear her sobs. Her young heart breaking……
Jade’s mother, Tonya was on her way from Smyrna, Tennessee. A 2/3 hour drive. My heart hurt for her mother. Trying to get to her baby. Her only child. Her miracle baby born prematurely weighing 1 lb.
We stayed in the trauma unit for hours but knew we had to say goodbye. My mind knew he was gone and my faith told me where he was but my heart just couldn’t bear to leave him. How could I? I went back to Jade. Her mother had arrived. We were meeting for the first time. She had met Pierce a couple of times. He had just spent Christmas Day with her family. We hugged. It was the hug of perfect strangers but I felt her deep hurt for me. She was taking some of my pain in that hug. Even as she too was hurting. Hurting for her precious daughter. Her daughters little body and her broken heart.
Many of DJ’s coworkers stood at the door of the trauma unit. They stayed until Pierce’s body was removed. Such an amazing gesture but not surprising from DJ’s firefighter brothers & sisters.
We went home to wait on DJ and Connor to get home. DJ was being shuttled across the state by firefighters. From Memphis to Nashville to Knoxville. Connor was being driven by a coworker and his friend Matt met them to bring him home. Connor arrived around 3:00 am and DJ about 6:00 am. Each time we all embraced and sobbed. I don’t think it truly seemed real to any of us. The next days are pretty much a blur. We made Pierce’s funeral arrangements. Avery wrote his obituary. We all decided on a beautiful wooden casket. We received friends on New Years Day. We hugged and cried for over 3 hours as photos of Pierce’s life scrolled on the screen above. Pierce’s Bible teacher from Grace Christian Academy, Dr. Tony Pointer performed his service. Avery and Poppy shared their memories. Connor’s friend Matt sang. We continued to receive friends following the service. It was amazing how many people came. Family from out of town. Pierce’s high school friends, childhood friends, teachers, coworkers, friend’s parents, teammates, our coworkers, our friends, our classmates from high school, Avery and Connor’s friends, Pierces grandparent’s friends and their high school classmates. Many of Pierce’s aunts and uncles friends. Acquaintances and strangers. Many dear friends who also knew our pain and the journey of great grief we were beginning. Pierce would have been in awe of the love shown to our family. The following day we laid Pierce to rest beside his grandparents and great grandparents at Greenwood Cemetery. A procession from the funeral home led by a firetruck and a police motorcade. Bagpipes played in the background as we approached his gravesite. His friends carried him to his final resting place. All of us understanding this was only an earthly goodbye but still a painful separation and emptiness lie ahead without him in our world. None of us prepared for the depth of grief yet to come.