The Day My Life Changed

April 7 – it sounds like a wonderful day – spring is arriving, snow is melting, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining. But, for me, April 7 is my most dreaded day. After 17 years, I now find the anticipation of the day is actually harder than the day itself.

When I was only 14, on April 7, my family was in a car accident. Someone missed a stop sign, and in an instant my life was forever changed. I was not in the car. My Dad and older Brother miraculously survived. My Mom and my older Sister were both killed. There was no changing the outcome, they were dead and it was final. There became a marker in time – before the accident and after the accident.

I remember both my Mom and Sister all the time and I openly talk about them and the accident because I firmly believe that they shaped who I am today and continue to influence my life. Some days it feels like they died just yesterday, other days it feels like they’ve been gone forever. But today is special.

Today is the day, when I am filled with joy when I remember all the moments, each running through my mind like collection of still photos and short films. I hold dearly the memories I have, and I revel in the fact that at least I had 14 years with both of them. 14 years gave me enough time to have solid memories forever etched into my brain. 14 years is more than some people get with their loved ones, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Today is the day, when I force myself to remember how close I came to being the only one. This forces me to cherish the fact that my Dad and Brother survived and both made full recoveries. As hard as it is to think about, it could have been so much worse and because it wasn’t, I am grateful.

Today is the day, when I remember the last time I saw either of them alive. I will always wish I let that last hug linger just a few moments longer. I will always wish I had said, just one more time, I love you and I always will.

Today is the day, when I remember our close friend coming to my door and saying there has been a car accident, and somehow without knowing any details, I knew my life was forever changed. My Dad was able to call her from his cell phone once the car stopped rolling – he didn’t want me to find out form a police officer coming to our door. They took me into their lives, and wrapped me with love until our out of town family arrived to take care of me until my Dad and Brother were released from the hospital. I am grateful for her and their entire family.

Today is the day, when I silently remember. I think 17 years is past the statute of limitations on public grieving (not that I would anyways, that’s just not in my nature). I often think, has it really been 17 years? Wow!!  How my life would be different if they were still here! 17 years!!

Today is the day, when I will tell my husband I love him over and over again. I will hold on to him just a little tighter for the fear of losing someone else I love dearly is bubbling a little too close to the surface.

Today is the day, when I remember wondering around the hospital in a complete daze and smiling at an old man wishing him well (I later found out, he was the one who missed the stop sign and killed them).

Today is the day, when I remember my first ever funeral and seeing my first ever dead bodies. The firsts that no child should ever experience.

Today is the day, when I am grateful they did not suffer in their final moments. There was no long drawn out battle with cancer, in which they would have suffered immeasurably. The car was t-boned on the passenger side, they were sitting on the passenger side. My mom died instantly, my sister died on route to the hospital. I was told due to the massive head injuries, she would not have felt anything. I take solace in the fact that their last moments were pain free.

Today is the day, when I am grateful they have each other. I believe they are together, wherever they may be.

Today is the day, when I wonder who my sister would have grown to be as an adult. I like to believe that she’d be married to a wonderful man, have a couple of adorable children and be an elementary school teacher. She loved children and they loved her.  She would have been an amazing teacher, it was her dream.

Today is the day, when I am reminded that I have lost 4 babies and that I cannot call my mom or sister and have their words of wisdom imparted on me and a shoulder to cry on. There have been times in the past where I longed for my mom, particularly at life’s key millstones such as when I graduated from high school or graduated from my undergraduate degree or graduated from my master degree or when I was planning my wedding, or when we found out we were expecting for the first time (and each time after that). However, the last few years have been different. With the loss of 4 babies, I would give anything for a hug and the understanding that only a mother can give her child.

Today is the day, when I will listen to The Dance by Garth Brooks a few too many times, because it perfectly encapsulates my feelings:

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance

Today is the day, when I will dream. I will dream about a future where I am half the mother my mom was to me and my siblings. Dream about knowing the love a child, in the same way I love my mom. Dream about having children become best friends in the same way my sister and I were. Dream about telling my children about their Grandma and Aunt, who positively touched and inspired greatness in everyone they encountered. Today, unlike past years, my dreams are also filled with hope for the future.

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41 Comments on “The Day My Life Changed

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  2. I have tears in my eyes. So sad but beautifully told. I’m truly sorry for what happened but I’m glad you can have days like these when you’re able to hold onto the joy (((hug)))


    • Thanks so much for such a thoughtful comment. I too am grateful that I can hold onto the joy of having my mom and my sister in my life. I think many people in similar situations choose to hold onto the hurt and anger, but I just refuse to live that way. Obviously I wish they were still here, but I am truly grateful for the we had together.
      Thanks again!


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  7. This is so heartbreaking, yet beautifully told. And I love how it ends with hope. My mom died two-and-a-half years ago and I still ache for her every day. I guess it never goes away. Thanks for sharing your story!


    • I’m so sorry you understand the heartache of losing your mom. In my experience, your are absolutely right, the heartache never goes away. Somehow, I learned to live without them as its a reality I just cannot change.


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