This afternoon (Sunday), Michael and I drove up to Rockville, Md., to the home of my friend Linton Weeks and his wife, Jan Taylor Weeks. We had to park a block away. Dozens and dozens of people had come to their house.
On Thursday night, Linton and Jan’s two sons, Stone and Holt Weeks, were killed in a horrible car wreck on I-81 in Virginia. Stone was 24 and Holt was 20. They lived in Houston (Holt was going to be a junior at Rice University; Stone, a University of Delaware alum, worked as a researcher at Rice for the historian Douglas Brinkley). They were driving home to Maryland for a visit and to attend Brinkley’s book reading. They were almost there — maybe another hour away. A slowdown on the interstate. A tractor-trailer failed to stop and slammed into the Weeks brothers’ car. Their dog died too.
I’ve known Linton a long time. He was a writer in the Style section at The Post and part of my regular lunch posse. He’s one of the nicest, even-tempered and funniest people I’ve ever worked with, just a real gentle soul and a very clear writer. And such a great dad. Because I wasn’t close to my own father, who died in 2007, I’m always impressed by the men I know who seem to have really worked hard at being fathers, how part of it is luck and part of it is steadiness and determination.
Linton took the Post buyout offer last year, left Style, and was immediately scooped up by National Public Radio, where he’s a national correspondent for their web site. I was in the NPR building doing a show about two weeks ago, and when it was over, I stopped by his cubicle and we talked and laughed for a while. He walked me down to the lobby.
Sunday, Linton and Jan were in front of their house greeting all the people who came by. I hugged Linton and he remembered that we’d just seen each other at his office. He told me: I will never be that person again.
I wished I’d had something better to say than “I don’t know what to say.” Because I do know what to say, now, hours later: Linton, you just be here, be whatever person you can be, and I’ll take it.
Wakes are a powerful thing. Walking up to the house, you brace yourself for the unspeakable grief within — a couple has lost their only children. And, yes, it’s there, but so is the love. My God, those people are loved.
The funeral is next Sunday at the National Cathedral. I feel sorry for whomever has to give the sermon. People of course want to know the impossible; why horrible things happen to good people. I suppose that part of the problem is that the world is mostly filled with good, nice people, ergo the odds. But we’re talking about the very worst thing and the very nicest people. That’s what I can’t get my head around.