First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE - Reese Jacobs Jr. thought he would be enjoying this Thanksgiving weekend with his new bride.
But scattered throughout Jacobs' home are haunting reminders of what will never be. Leftover wedding invitations sit on a table, along with decorations for the nuptials. A wedding gift - a throw rug engraved with the couple's names - is nearby.
Jacobs, a National Guardsman just back from a military tour in Iraq, planned to spend the rest of his life with his 39-year-old bride-to-be Rhonda Holden, but that all ended in a deadly second in a car crash on Sept. 21.
Now Jacobs, 47, spends his time trying to put his life back together.
“We planned on spending the Thanksgiving holiday together as a family with her 84-year-old grandmother … It doesn't even seem like holidays,” he said. “It's hard to accept the fact that she's gone.”
The couple, who had been engaged for about a year, planned to be wed on Oct. 7. They were out picking up a suit for the ring bearer when the accident occurred.
Rhonda's car was turning into the driveway of a friend's house off N.C. 72 when another car slammed into the driver's side of her 2005 Dodge Neon, according to a state Highway Patrol report.
Eighteen-year-old Laura Ann Locklear of Pembroke was driving the car that struck the Neon. The report said Locklear's car was traveling about 20 mph above the 55 mph speed limit.
The impact of the accident knocked him unconscious and bruised a kidney and his heart.
“When I came to, I knew she was thinking of me because she had her head on my shoulder and her hand on my arm … but I knew she was gone,” Jacobs said. “That's what hurts the most; I didn't get to tell her I loved her or say good-bye.”
Holden is survived by her 10-year-old daughter, Brittianey, who now lives with her uncle in St. Pauls.
Locklear, who suffered minor injuries, was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and careless and reckless driving. Her trial is set for Dec. 5.
At Rhonda's funeral, Jacobs felt ill and passed out at the graveside. Doctors said he suffered a heart attack, mostly like brought on by the damage caused by the accident.
After he spent a week in the hospital, doctors told him that his heart would heal. He is not so sure.
“I was used to hearing hear voice every day,” he said. “I was looking forward to having her in my life as my wife. We were looking forward to building a home together on Henry Berry Road near Pembroke.”
Wedding dress worn
Jacobs honored Holder's memory by holding a prayer service on the day they planned to become man and wife. He recalled how important it was to Holden that he not see her wedding dress before the special day.
“I buried her in her wedding dress … she never did let me see it … I put her wedding ring on her on her finger,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs slipped his wedding band on his ring finger surrounded by nearly a dozen relatives at the prayer service led by Rev. Timothy Chives.
“He said a prayer for Rhonda and he talked about how he was going to unite us in marriage but instead it was saying good-bye,” Jacobs said. “I did it to show how much I loved her … I felt it was important for both of us.”
Jacobs says he tries to focus on the six years that the couple spent together.
“I'm thankful for the time I did have with her … I'm very thankful for that,” Jacobs said. “She was a beautiful woman and she had a heart of gold.”