Forever I Will See your Smile

Dedication to Donna James and The Strength She Shares

Letters From Mom
When Will I Get to this Place
The Pain of Finding Peace
Dedication to Donna James and The Strength She Shares
The Gift of Love "My Son's Memory"
Angel Memory Quilt
Angels Love From Heaven
Angels Love From Heaven
Angels Love From Heaven
Ballons From Heaven

First I do want everyone to know I did ask Donna before adding this page. There was a email sent a few weeks back that touched me so I asked Donna if I could share.


The picture above looks like a very happy family all smiling and you can just see the love for each other all over their faces. The story below which was written by Donna will show you how a beautiful family can be ripped apart in just seconds.


The Story of Corey And Michelle


Corey Christopher James was born on June 16, 1983 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was the only son of John and Donna James and only sibling to his sister Amy. Corey resided in Moosic, Pennsylvania from birth until December 2, 1993, when he relocated with his family to Deltona, Florida.


Corey attended Discovery Elementary School, Deltona Middle School and was a 2001 graduate of Deltona High School, Deltona, FL. Despite having the Florida Prepaid College fund and earning the Bright Scholarship Fund, Corey chose to enter the Armed Services.


He joined the U.S. Air Force on June 26, 2001 and attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX. Upon completing his basic training, he attended tech school at Shepherd Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, TX. Following tech school he was stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ. Corey was an Airman First Class with the 355th Component Maintenance Squadron working on the A-10 warplanes, which were instrumental in the War on Terror in Iraq.


While stationed in Tucson, Corey met and fell in love with Michelle Burkhamer, daughter of Joseph Burkhamer of Indiana and Marjorie Surine of Gold Canyon, Arizona. Michelle was the only daughter and the only sibling to her brother Michael.


Corey and Michelle were true soulmates from the moment they met. There were so many similarities between them that they discovered while dating. Besides being the youngest of their families, both Corey and Michelle's moms were hospitalized while pregnant with them for spotting. Both Corey and Michelle were only hospitalized once in their lives, around the same age and for the same illness....Gastroenteritis. Growing up, both Corey and Michelle had to have sutures done in the same body part...their lips! Michelle had a cat as a child that she named COREY! Corey's mom had a name all picked out for him if he had been a girl....MICHELLE! Both Corey and Michelle's moms are nurses as well as Corey's sister Amy and Michelle's aunts.


Corey and Michelle became engaged on Thanksgiving Day 2002. Corey wanted a truly unique way of proposing and Thanksgiving provided that opportunity. He arranged it with Michelle's mom, to put the ring inside the turkey as it came out of the oven. When Michelle's mom asked what was in the turkey, Michelle came to look, finding the ring. Corey got down on one knee and asked Michelle to marry him and with tears in her eyes, Michelle said YES!


Corey and Michelle were married on May 18th, 2003 at Gold Canyon Golf Resort, AZ. in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. What a beautiful couple they made, the love they had for each other was so evident to everyone.

Corey and Michelle James

Entered Life Together May 18,2003

Departed Life Together  August 17th,2003


The parts I have on this web page is only a partial of what Donna has to share of Corey and Michelle but I wanted to write a little to lead up to the email I want to share.

On Sunday morning August 17th, 2003, Corey and Michelle left their apartment in Tucson to travel to Gold Canyon, AZ to visit with Michelle's grandfather who had recently been diagnosed with a blood clot. Michelle had lost her grandmother just one year before in August 2002 and was very close with her grandparents. After visiting with Michelle's mother and grandfather, they left to return home. They were traveling Highway 79 which was under construction. The road had been milled on Friday August 15th. The posted speed limit was 65 mph and there was one sign posted to expect delays because of construction. From what we have been told, on a left hand curve in the road that was at a slight incline, Corey and Michelle encountered a 400-450 foot deteriorated section of roadway that was filled with huge potholes, some measuring up to 5 feet wide and 2-4 inches deep, filled with loose asphalt from the milling job, Arizona heat and the 2 days of travel on the road. There were over 27 of these potholes. It is felt that Corey lost control of his truck on the asphalt, hit a pothole and was spun into oncoming traffic in the Northbound lane. They were hit head-on by a semi (an empty sulfuric acid tanker), pushed backwards over 100 feet, their truck flipped onto the roof, coming to rest in the Northbound lane of Highway 79 in Florence, Arizona. Corey's truck caught fire and because of their location, it took over 20 minutes for the fire department to respond. It is believed that Corey and Michelle were killed upon impact. We were not able to see them, hold them or kiss them one last time. We were notified of the deaths of our son Corey and his wife Michelle, 26 hours later, by the United States Air Force. From that moment on, our lives, our hearts, our dreams and our futures have been forever shattered and destroyed.


Just a few pictures Of Corey and Michelle (slideshow)

Below is the email I wanted to share. Donna has such strength and I love her for that. She has helped me many times try to understand this terrrible journey we are on. Love and hugs to you Donna! And Thank you for letting me share this.


       The friend that I was talking about that made the comment about "God needing two special flowers for His garden", turned out to be one of the most supportive people in my life. She would stop by every few days for coffee, to check on me and for the first several years, every 2 months or so I would get a thinking of you card, even though she lived only a few houses away from us.  About 18 months ago, she moved a few miles away, but continues to stay in touch and check on how we are doing.
I think the fantasizing about Corey and Michelle still living their lives in their little apartment, which then turned into the fantasy that Corey was doing undercover work for the Air Force and that's why they couldn't contact us, helped to get me through that first year, but the one year memorial was a reality check for me. The numbness, that blessed numbness was gone and replaced by a ton of reality. The memorial service that John and I held, in some ways hit me harder than the funeral, because I was no longer in shock, no longer numb and could no longer deny that Corey and Michelle were really gone.
So many people have said that the first year was the easiest for them and during that first year, I could not understand how that could be possible. But once that numbness and shock lifted after the first year passed, it got harder, more painful, more real and more heartbreaking. It's then that I realized that they were right, the first year really IS the easiest. I agree with you that it gets harder with time. The more time that passes, the more you miss them and all the time that you would have shared with them, all the new memories you could have made with them. You never stop wondering what they would look like now, where they would be in their lives with careers, marriage, children....... Endless possibilities, endless longing.
The one thing that I have learned on this "journey" is that when we happen find something that "helps" us to feel even the tiniest bit better, we need to cling to it and when something makes us feel worse, it should be avoided. When I first lost Corey and Michelle and found so many wonderful online grieving parents who have been traveling this path for some time, many would say to "be kind or be gentle with myself". I understand now what they meant by that as well. All any of us can do is to take one day at a time and hopefully with time, we will have more "better" days than bad. Time won't "heal", but hopefully with time, we learn ways of coping that help us to get through each day a bit gentler.

I hope you will visit Corey and Michelle and see the love they shared and the strength of Donna. So much more to tell on her websites.


In my heart you live on
Always there never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart