I received a text from a fellow motorcycle rider friend of mine, Joe, on Tuesday December 7th, 2010. Sadly, the message read a kid named Carlos with a GSXR 600 just died from running a stop sign at 17th and Hackberry in McAllen, Texas. Kid? Oh no!
It is always awful when one of your fellow riders goes down and gets hurt, a tragedy when they die. When I read the words ‘kid’, my heart bled even more. The poor relatives and friends that have to survive through the insurmountable pain of losing a son, brother, nephew, or friend, well, I can’t even put into words.
Later that afternoon, I watched the early news and learned more details. Carlos Ramon died at the scene of the accident after failing to see a stop sign, drove through, and was hit by an oncoming pick up truck. Carlos lived in Mission, Texas, and was only 16 years old. An inexperienced rider who missed paying attention for only a moment, had died.
The driver of the truck, 34 year old Omar Ulices Hernandez, was detained due to a providing a false identity. It was later learned that he had previously been deported and wanted by immigration officials. As with many illegals, I have no doubt that he is doing the best he can with the resources he has to provide a better life for his family. What this tragedy must have done to his family too.
Thursday night, Joe sent me another text. Would I like to ride in the procession for Carlos tomorrow morning at 8:30? Just like in the military, police, or fire department, when a comrade loses their life, we show our support for the family. Absolutely I will be part of the gathering. The more bikes, the better.
The morning arrived and I was reluctant to go. The temperature was 10C/50F; very cold on a motorcycle. My thoughts went to, they won’t miss one rider, I don’t know him, I do not know Joe that well, and began thinking of excuses to get out of my commitment. It is just too cold, I slept terribly, and just do not want to go.
My inner voice brought me back to center. It said, Belinda and Albert, Carlos’s parents do not want to go either. His two brothers, Christopher and Albert, they do not want to go. His grandparents on his mother’s side, Beatrice and Ricardo, and grandparents on his father’s side, Rosa and Ruben, don’t want to go. His step-mother, Lupita, his Aunt Sylvia, Aunt Olga, Aunt Yadira, Uncle Abiel, and Carlos’s cousins, also do not want to go. His friends from his high school, volunteers he contributed his time with at the Lynn Texas/San Marcos Fire Department, and his off-roading, hunting, and fishing pals, would rather not have to go today too. Mostly, a 16 year old being laid to rest today, does not want to go.
I pulled my thoughts together, put my gear on, and proudly rode my VFR800 with Joe and Christian to Skinner-Silver Funeral Home of Pharr. As we arrived, we notice the procession line had began to form. There was at least 20 riders already, and 7 or 8 jeeps. Before leaving to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the line of support had to have totaled approximately 60 bikes, 8 jeeps, and vehicles from the fire department.
The reality of why we were there pulled at my heart as we were getting ready to go. A lady came out of the funeral home crying very hard as she sat in the back seat of a designated family car. I felt her agony. It was awful. I wondered if each of us there had carried that emotional distress for a split second, would she have had ten seconds of relief. Would she have even noticed those ten seconds being in so much pain?
The group assembles to leave as we solemnly, yet in unified in our purpose, ride to the church. The police provided assistance with traffic lights, and a designated lane on the highway. As we got closer to the church, I saw pedestrians on the streets stop what they were doing, not out of curiosity, out of respect. They watched our group drive by with their hats in their hands, and hands on their hearts. More split seconds of agony were being directed to others to give Carlos’s family and friends relief. I sure hope they felt some of it.
To the left of the church, our riding pack had a designated parking area. None of us went in for the funeral mass, respecting it was intimate for friends and family. We maintained our support outside if we were needed. At one time it was. One of Carlos’s brothers came out to re-gather himself and reached out. He asked to hear our engines. Well, with 60 of us cranking it up, he did! Those split seconds, I know were relief. Glad we could give it, and glad I was a part of it.
An hour later, people began exiting the church, gathering on the front steps and sidewalk. Within a few minutes, a casket carrying Carlos was brought out and carefully put into the waiting hurst to be driven to his final resting place, the Roselawn Cemetery. Riding past his friends and family, we again revved up our engines. Some enjoyed it, some were likely annoyed. If our loud engines distracted you from why you were at the church, it gave you split seconds however you received it; enjoyed or annoyed.
Riding to the cemetery, we had the same looks of empathy and support from bystanders. Once there, we saw a a large gathering of people waiting by his plot. Those not able to make the church service still did what they could. Even I was touched by the amount of additional people who showed up to receive them. Once the bikes were parked, we again offered a distraction with a unified engine rev. An hour later, it was over. Carlos was at his final resting place. The bike group was the first to leave. We did a final ride around his plot area and left.
We left behind a fellow rider who barely knew what it was like to ride. Did he get that opportunity to wear away the ‘chicken strips’ off his tires? Or feel the exhilaration of a corner well taken? Did he go mach one in the middle of the night, just to pass the last personal high speed record and add to the bragging stories? Did he truly understand the biker slogan, it is not about the destination, it’s all about the ride?
For so many people who didn’t want to go today, I have no doubt Carlos did not want to go the most. I saw the faces he left behind. He would not have wanted to be the reason for their grief. Nor to have a female friend of his so devastated at the accident scene she fainted and required medical assistance.
He would not have chosen to be a part of a man being deported and what consequence that may have on his family environment for personal and financial support. Nor would he have wanted him to suffer through the memory of an accident resulting in his death.
I’m glad I found my scarf, and listened to my inner voice. As the day finished, it felt wonderful to be part of whatever support the bike, jeep, and fire-truck procession provided. May you rest in peace Carlos, reunite with your Uncle Jaime, and keep a protective, and loving eye over those you love, and those who love you.

Author's Bio: 

Joanne Vermeulen is a Trainer and Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, and Hypnotherapy residing in Scheveningen, The Netherlands. She is currently finishing her first novel, and has a home business offering life-changing NLP Breakthrough Sessions.