HereAfter Stories

Our Last Conversation

The last thing my brother Colton and I ever talked about was a bucket of KFC chicken. It sounds so mundane, but that ordinary conversation has become a permanent memory. “Dude, you wouldn’t believe how much chicken I just downed,” he said. “I could feed a small army.”

On February 15, 2023, a motorcycle accident forever changed our lives. Colton slipped into a coma, and a term we had only ever heard in movies—brain dead—became a harsh reality. For six agonizing days, we hovered around his hospital bed, hanging on to a hope we knew was fragile. Eventually, we had to let go. We said our goodbyes, each in our own way, surrounding him in a circle of love and sorrow.

I frequently catch myself thinking about Colton and what he might say or think if he were here today. What jokes would he crack? What new conspiracy theory would he humorously convince us to believe? Colton never got the chance to say goodbye or tell us he loved us one last time. What remains of him are fragmented digital keepsakes: a handful of photos, a voice memo describing a funny experience he had during a DoorDash delivery. These little remnants are precious but offer little consolation. Something tangible would bring us so much comfort.

Losing my brother taught me to never leave a loved one without saying, “I love you.” I’ve also gained a new perspective on my own mortality. Life’s little things—the casual conversations about KFC, the humorous discussions about aliens—have taken on a new significance.

If Colton had known about HereAfter Vault, I believe he would have used it to leave us something more, a permanent piece of himself to comfort us in his absence. We never think of our own mortality when we’re young, but Colton’s passing has changed that for me. In memory of my brother, I will soon be filling my own vault on HereAfter. I’m not yet sure what it will contain, and that’s perfectly fine. What’s important is that it exists, ready to be filled with pieces of me that can someday provide comfort and insight for those I leave behind.

In honor of Colton Williams (1994 – 2023)

Helpful Links

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Phone number: 988

North Carolina

HopeLine: Crisis Line for North Carolina
Phone number: