It has been two months since Laray Rector’s fatal collision with a vehicle while riding his bicycle. His death has had an impact on me that I have not been able to shake. I only rode bikes with Laray a few times, but I haven’t been able to talk about his passing without getting choked up.
I can’t say for sure what has caused me to be so emotional. I suspect that it is from the trauma of the accident, and what was said at the funeral.
The Trauma of the Accident
Apparently the driver of the SUV came completely over to the other side of the road at a curve with a slight hill, even touching the left wheels on the shoulder of opposite side. My good friend, Chris Webb and Laray were riding bicycles on that side of the road with bright headlights. Chris was narrowly able to dodge the car, but Laray didn’t have a chance. The sound of Laray and the bicycle being struck by the vehicle and being thrown 100 feet in the opposite direction had to have been a horrendous noise. Knowing that Chris has to live with this memory just kills me.
After calling 911, Chris called Dwayne Fulks, a doctor and a best friend of Laray’s to come to the scene. Dwayne arrived and he saw his best friend’s lifeless, mangled body and then tried to provide some support for Chris. Laray’s wife was calling repeatedly because she had gotten word of an accident, but no one wanted to answer the call. When she called in on another phone, the call was answered and Dwayne had to tell her the fatal news.
What Was Said at the Funeral
To start with, there were roughly 1000 people in attendance. At one point, they asked for a show of hands of how many people considered Laray a best friend. About 30 or 40 hands went in the air. How is this even possible, that so many people thought so highly of him?
They talked about his family life, his professional life, his charitable life, his church life, and his attention to friends. The theme throughout was that he was a Christian and an encourager, and that he worked very hard to be an encourager. One speaker read a devotional he had written about encouraging others. The various speakers had numerous examples, such as telephoning everyone in his morning devotional group after the studies just to give additional encouragement. The video presentation demonstrated several times that Laray believed strongly in encouraging others and worked very hard at it.
His influence wasn’t just in this area. Our bike club decided to do a memorial ride where we would ride from town to the accident site. Thirty-five people participated in the ride. Six of his bike-riding friends from Florida, where Laray had a vacation home, drove eight hours to be a part of the ride. The Florida friends gave us all a custom wristband that said “LIVE LIKE LARAY live life smiling.”
I have not been emotionally strong enough to wear the wristband; I’m afraid someone will ask me about it.
I have decided I need to do just that, live like Laray. Every hour I push myself to work at being an encourager. We are missing an angelic encourager and there are voids to be filled. It takes a lot of extra energy, but I am getting the stamina from Laray, and from riding a bike.