One year ago this weekend, I was at my best friend's wedding out of town. It was the weekend after Thanksgiving. We left at about noon on Friday and drove the three hours to her soon-to-be husbands hometown. Hubby (then my new fiance) and I checked into our hotel. One of my other friends arrived about an hour and a half after us and started talking about the fact that they were delayed because of a really bad accident on the interstate near our home. I didn't really think anything of it. We went about our business of the weekend. My friend got married on Saturday...we had the ceremony, the reception, etc. It was a fun evening...lots of fun stories (but that's for another post). On Sunday, we had breakfast and then we got on the road.
When I got home, I sat down to check my email and to see what had been going on. I got onto the local TV channel's website to see if anything important had happened in the couple days since we had been gone. I saw a story about the car accident that my friend had mentioned on Friday. I clicked on the link and started to read the story. I got about three sentences into the article when my heart sank.
I need to tell you that, at my university, in addition to my regular job, I also teach a class for freshman. It's called University Experience. It's a two credit hour class that introduces students to life in college. We do a lot of work...it's definitely not a blow off class. But, it's a lot of fun.
So, back to the story. I read the first two lines and then read the names of the two victims: two sisters, an 18 year old and her 13 year old. The 18 year old, was a student in my class. I was absolutely heartbroken. She was a very sweet girl that I had really enjoyed having in class. She was beautiful, but she didn't seem stuck up like some of those beautiful little college freshmen girls did. She talked with everyone in the class, volunteered to work with people that others didn't really want to work with. She was just an all around good kid.
I dreaded going to class on Tuesday. I teach this class with another staff member, so we discussed what we wanted to do. We knew that we needed to talk about it with them. So, we brought a staff person from Counseling Services over. We had plans to meet in the University Center that day because we were going to be starting on a new project. I found everyone in the class and had them go to a quiet room. We all sat down and we talked about what had happened. Some of them hadn't heard about it, while others had. Many tears were shed. I had a hard time talking with them about it. In fact, it was probably the most difficult thing I have had to do in my professional life. I will never forget the looks on their faces.
I think that for me, it was terribly upsetting because I kept thinking about my freshman year of college when three of my high school classmates were killed in a car accident in October. They were twin sisters and one of their boyfriends. It was incredibly sad. I remember waiting in line for hours at the funeral home to pay my respects. So, for me, sitting there with my students, I knew exactly what they were feeling.
I can't believe it's been a year. This past week, on Tuesday, we met with our class in the University Center to assign them the project that the class was set to discuss that day last year. I couldn't help but think back and to be incredibly sad.
The case will go to trial sometime next year, and all the memories will come back. The person that hit the girls was a state trooper going 127 miles an hour when he lost control of the car and crossed the center median and slammed into their car...I can only hope that he gets the punishment that he deserves for taking these two beautiful lives. While I barely knew her, I know that there are many, many people who miss her (and her sister) every single day.
So, as the one year anniversary approaches on Sunday, I hope that everyone will think about these two and their family. I know they are terribly missed.