The little boy who left us leaves lots of memories

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Recent articles in The Tidewater News have triggered emotional reactions to the tragic loss of 6-year-old Dustin “Dusty” Whitehurst.

I just want to express to everyone the impact his beautiful soul made in our lives.

It is time that every one knew a little about our friend Dusty and how much he is loved and


I have passed many fields in my life driving down the highway, ran through them as a child, and fussed at the dust that blew from them as an adult.

However, one October day this year I sat and cried as the soybeans were harvested and the rows of crops vanished.

Why would I cry over just a field of beans?

That bean field was a place that my children and their two best friends played all summer long.

It was a special place to them, an opportunity to imagine that they were in a maze or whatever they dreamed up. I can visualize them so clearly now, just as it was this summer, three boys, one girl, and two big dogs running through a field. All you could see were dog tails and toys raised in the air.

The noise they made now seems so beautiful looking back, the sound of laughter and joy.

Life was so simple then. It should still be for a child, but as fall approached more things changed in our lives than just the color of leaves.

On Sept. 15 we lost one of our

greatest adventurers. He led many walks through that field, laughed the loudest, and smiled the biggest.

How he loved to dress as a superhero, and my boys with him.

Sometimes I would tell them how silly they looked running bare feet, capes on and cowboy hats. I loved that about them, they were so free-spirited together. They enjoyed life in a way we all seem to lose as we age.

They did as they pleased without care as to how they looked or how loud they could get sometime.

They just lived life to the fullest. I am grateful for the moments they shared together, including birthday parties, playing in the snow, swimming at the river, Halloween, Christmas Eve and just being kids running around a back yard.

Last Christmas was very special to them. All the boys and the one tough girl that put up with all their antics all received cowboy hats and cap guns. They were the happiest foursome I have ever seen.

These moments we shared watching them are ones I wouldn’t trade for any fortune.

I can say that just having Dusty in our lives was the greatest gift we have ever received. The loss of him has hurt us all deeply.

Simple things trigger the realization of what a tremendous loss it is to be without him. When I walk in a store and see cowboy hats I am reduced to tears. When I see my oldest son riding his bike to his friend’s house, and think about how one day Dusty and my boys would have been inseparable because they would be doing the same to see each other, it breaks my heart.

These are just some of things that hurt and

make every day hard, but I know that Dusty would want us to enjoy life as he did. And so we will in his honor.

I have even gone barefoot in my yard for the first time in years, just to experience how good it feels because he loved being barefoot so much. I think he knew how much he was loved by all of us.

I hope we made his time here on earth with us as special as he made our days with him. He taught us how to have fun, hug your friends goodbye, make a joyful noise, and smile (he had the most beautiful wide smile.)

These are the simple things we all need to embrace, and kids need to experience. Dusty loved pretending to be a hero, be it a cowboy, Batman, Superman, etc.

I want everyone to know that he thought he was just pretending, but Dusty was both of my sons’ hero. Just the sight of him could light up their faces, just talking about things they did together make them happy, and just the fact that they genuinely loved each other.

He is, and will always be, one of the boys, and their special bond will continue for the rest of their lives until they can see their friend again and greet him with hugs. Please take care next time you pass a field by, or curse at the dust.

It may just look like acres of land, but to some it is so much more. To the farmer it is his loss or gain, to a child it is an adventure, and to me it is a reminder of simpler times and one sweet little hero.