It just doesn't seem fair, doesn't seem right--parents seeing a child pass before them.
Philip Lutzenkirchen spent 23 years with his parents Mike and Mary and it's been nearly two months since he left them.
"I've told people I'm 51 years old, I'd like to think I'm a grown man, it's okay to cry. It doesn't seem real, it seems like he's still going to walk through the door and then you get the inevitable reality that it's not going to happen," Mike said.
"To say it's a parents' nightmare is absolutely true. To feel like you didn't prepare your child for the world, but you have to know you did your best and just know that he made an impact in the world. That's really all you can do," Mary said.
The Lutzenkirchens have agreed to speak out because they want people to know the football player off the field.
"He was a very tender, tough football player. I mean, he was tender to his sisters, he was tender to his friends, he was tender to Auburn. I mean, he wasn't afraid to tell people that he loved them. He wasn't afraid to reach out to people," Mary said.
"No matter how big his persona became at Auburn, he still was this oversized, big, goofy kid," Mike said.
"I mean, he just loved his friends and his family deeply but he also loved his community and he had a real heart for young people with disabilities, with sickness. It just was a part of him," Mary said.
Where do Mike and Mary turn? They felt it all.
"I have had sadness, there's definitely denial. You wake up and think your life's going to be the same but we all have to have purpose. Your world's changed, not just us, everybody. Everybody's life that he touched changed. You have to move forward," Mary said.
The Lutzenkirchens are coping by moving forward. The Lutzie 43 Foundation is a work in progress as it will soon uphold what Philip Lutzenkirchen did right.
The foundation will educate and advise students and young athletes on everything from conduct to community service.
"[We've been] blessed with a son that played at Auburn and a daughter at Alabama, having access to Jay Jacobs and Gus Malzahn to Bill Battle and Nick Saban," Mike said.
"We're going to try to do some things there from a fundraising standpoint to help the respective FCA programs and drive it through the Lutzie 43 Foundation and awareness standpoint," Mike said.
Another goal of the foundation is helping young people comprehend subjects such as seatbelt use, drinking and driving and decision making.
"It kind of came to my mind that if you think you need to go out after midnight, that might be the right time on the clock to say there's really no need to go out. It's a five second decision to put a seatbelt on or not put a seatbelt on. When you get in a routine, it just becomes a habit," Mike said.
"The leading cause of death in teens and young adults is accidents. Alcohol-related accidents, safety related accidents. It has to be a platform for us," Mary said.
The Lutzenkirchens are a good family. Their kids are and were full of smarts, faith and bright futures. Still, the unthinkable happened.
"My kids knew it, I preached it, we taught safety and we're still part of that, the statistics," Mary said.
Perhaps if Mike and Mary can help prevent a future accident, instill in a kid what's right, their pain might lessen. That could take a while but it could be a start.
"I was blessed to have Philip for 23 years and I've said this many times before he passed, he took us on this magical ride from who he was, what he did and what he accomplished on the field, off the field," Mike said.
"So I hope that building towards going forward that I will recognize everything that he did for us for 23 years. But then realize that he will never meet his wife or have grandchildren with him, that's hard," Mike said.
"Your kids are your future. It's hard to see your hopes and dreams but what we got from him, what the Lord gave us was incredible. People we've met the people who have touched our lives through him. Incredible," Mary said.
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