I have been writing a story about the night Missy died. I think it is a good way for me to get things out that i have kept in so long. I am going to share it with you though it is not done. It is quite long. This is an unedited copy. PLease do not pass this on, but you can direct people here to read it. THANK YOU.
Sept 23rd, 1997 10:00pm
No one could ever prepare anyone for something like this. “This can’t be happening. This isn’t real. This is a dream. “ I thought to myself. I was screaming inside my own head, but no sound came out other than sobs and gasps to catch my breath. I was trying to listen to what was happening. I also heard screaming, and I look over to where it is coming from . It is coming from my mom who is screaming, “ No, I don’t understand! NOO-OO! “ A sob breaking up her words. I feel sick to my stomach. I think I’m going to be sick. I decide to hold it together because my mom is falling apart. I need to think. What should I do? So I ask. “Can we see her? And can you call a priest to give her last rights?” The nurse said “yes, you can see her and I will call the priest.” I understood what the nurse was telling us. I understood everything. Though I was in shock, it quickly turned to numbness. My mom isn’t hearing what anyone is saying anymore over her screams and sobs. I take her in my arms and pull her up. “Come on Mom” I said, gently. “Lets go! Missy needs us to be with her.” Hot tears are flowing steadily, but I have to be strong. My mom looks at me a bit confused, but she nods her head. Her friend from work Rhonda and I hold her up as the nurse leads us across the hallway. As we walk across the hall, I turn my head as the automatic doors swing open and see my father. He sees me holding up my crying mother, my mom barely able to walk. I look at him with fresh tears in my eyes and said, “Dad..” in a cracked voice, but he holds his hand up and turns around and walks right back out the door. He knows just by looking at me and my mom what happened. Why did he leave? Though my parents are divorced, we all need each other right now. My mom, Rhonda and I walk into the room my sister was in. There is a big ventilator machine with a tube tied down into my sister”s mouth. There is a huge gash on her chin. Her hair is still in the 2 braids they were in when I last saw her this afternoon on the porch, holding her new kitten. My mom sees her and screams louder. Her friend Rhonda pulls her to a corner with the nurse’s assistance. They try to get her on a chair, but her knees give out. They are trying to hold her up and calm her down. I hear it all in the background, but I’m not paying attention. Everything now feels like tunnel vision . Everything in my view is blurry except what I’m focusing on, Missy. I get closer and I see the bloody ties holding her intubation tube down and her tongue is partially sticking over to the side. I notice her tongue piercing that my sister got without my mom’s permission. My other sister Christy got one of her friends to do it for her. I look down at Missy. I see the blood in her braid and in other places in her hair. I see blood oozing out of her exposed ear. I feel numb. “Missy, Can you hear me?” I whisper to her. I reach over and touch her face lightly with the back of my fingers hoping she will respond, but I know she won’t. Not just because the nurse told me so, but I know she has to have a bad enough head injury for her to have blood coming out of her ear. Her face is ice cold. All the sound around me is muffled, including my moms screaming, almost like I’m under water. I reach over and hold Missy’s hand. Her hands are cold as well. I look at the veins in her hand. “Such thin fingers she has”, I think to myself. Another nurse leans over to check machine settings and whispers to me, “She can still hear you.” She pats my hand which is holding Missy’s. She gives me a weak smile that is full of pity. I see that her eyes are a bit watery. I look back at my sister and think about the night before. The night before we were having so much fun. Missy, my friend Nicole and I were in the kitchen. Missy picked up the bad habit of smoking from my dad and our other sister Christy. Missy is the youngest at 17. I’m the oldest at 20, Christy falls in the middle at 19. Missy was too young to buy cigarettes, so she begged me to go get her some. I was reluctant as she begged. And I gave her my reasons. “ Our Grandmother at this moment is dying from lung cancer from her smoking, just some of her siblings have gone before her. It runs in our family and I’m not going to contribute to anything that will take you away from me too soon. I want us to grow old and live on the same street and watch our grandchildren play together from our rocking chairs on a porch. “ She threw her arms around my neck and yelled, “YOU DO LOVE ME!” I could hear Nicole laughing. And I laughed too. “ Of course I love you! You’re my baby sister! “ I’m thinking now, I should’ve bought her those cigarettes. Maybe it would’ve just changed the course of things. I stare at my sister’s face, knowing that my time is limited to see her “alive”. I feel numb. I keep thinking that this is a bad dream. The fuzziness around everything else but her is making it feel like a dream. I feel a hand on my shoulder. It’s my dad. “What did they say? what happened?” he asked me. He said it in a sad voice as if he already knew, but needed to still hear it to be sure. I sigh and muster up the courage to say the words. I get a lump in my throat and don’t believe that I can even talk. After a few minutes I swallow the hard lump and say softly in a monotone voice, “She was in the car with Jim (her boyfriend). He blacked out while driving. They say his blood sugar was too low. They are still with him right now. He went left of center on a curve in the road. Another car hit them mostly on Missy’s side. They said she wasn’t wearing her seat belt. Her neck is broken at the C2-C3 vertebra. She is totally paralyzed from the neck down and will never be able to breathe on her own. She will always need a ventilator. She’s basically a vegetable. They aren’t sure how long she has been without oxygen. It took them 20 minutes to get her out of the car. They have had to revive her three times. She is stable now, but will never wake up. There is too much brain damage from trauma and lack of oxygen. “ My father is motionless. He looks pale and in shock. He is looking down on her. He reaches to run his fingers over her cheek. He whispers to her, “I love you baby, it’s ok.” I think he is as numb as I am. Then another nurse comes in over to my mom. She has not stopped screaming. I get up and go over there. The nurse needs to ask us a question. I decide to rescue the nurse from my mom and I talk to her. The nurse starts, “I am sorry for everything that is happening. But I need to ask your parents if they will consider letting your sister be an organ donor. I nodded. I said, “Yes we want her to be an organ donor. But I will discuss this with my mom and dad. I pulled my Dad over to discuss this. My mom still didn’t seem to quite understand. I told them it was the best thing for us to do. It will be a way for her to live on. She will be able to give other people a chance at life. My mom just nods, my dad mumbles to me, “whatever you think is best.” The priest arrived just then to administer Last Rights. A nurse follows him in with some papers to sign. There is an organ donor sheet and a release of her personal items. Her bloody pants that had to be cut from her, her bloody shirt that was also cut. Her socks were even bloody as well as her shoes. I see all of this and feel sick inside. My sisters once lively, healthy, athletic body was broken.
The nurse moved me and my family out of the room for a moment. The priest is going to give last rights and they are going to get her ready shortly to prepare her transportation to another hospital where they are going to take her organs. The nurse put us in an office that was about 8 ft by 6ft. I saw the phone on the counter and realized that my other sister still doesn’t know. I had tried calling her before I left the house earlier but couldn’t get a hold of her. I pick up the phone and hopes it calls out. I'm in luck, it does. I try her number again, but it just rings. I can't reach her. "It was almost 11pm, where could she be?" I thought to myself. I decide to call my boyfriend, Will. I have been with Will almost 2 years now. We lived together, but I recently moved back home. We haven't been getting along at all. The fights are pretty bad. I have been feeling lately that I'm not going to go anywhere staying in a relationship with him. So I moved back home. “Just in time.” I thought to myself, thinking of the recent time I got to spend with Missy. I picked up the phone and dialed his number. He answered and I yell into the phone , a new sob escaping, “Will, she is dead. She is dead.” She wasn’t dead yet, but it was only a matter of time once the helicopter took her to the other hospital to be “harvested “. What a weird word to use for taking someone’s organs out of their body. “Who is dead? What is going on?” he asks sounding confused. I realize I just woke him up. “Missy, she is dead. Please come.” I plead with him. “Where are you?” he asks. “At the hospital, then we are going home.” “I’ll meet you at your house. Love you”, he said as he hung up. I decided to walk around the ER a bit. I was looking for Missy’s boyfriend Jimmy. I wondered how he was doing. I also wonder if he knows about Missy. Instead I see a familiar face through some glass in a door. It is Missy and Jim’s friend Doug. He is sitting in the room with his head hanging. I opened the door. Two other people are in the room with him. I do not know these other people, but do not care either. Doug looked up at me. He saw my tear streaked face, my red swollen eyes. He doesn't know yet. His eyes looked at me like they are asking THE question. “She is gone. “ I start to cry. “They are taking her to Metro to take her organs. She is dead.” The man and the woman in the room start to say “NO, NO” over and over.” They both start to cry and sob. This startles me a bit. The woman and man start to cling on to each other. Doug starts to cry and reaches over to pull me on his lap. He and I are both crying as he is holding me. After a few minutes, I notice the couple across from us are going to pieces. I quietly ask Doug, “Anything on Jimmy?” “No” is his only reply. I got up. “I need to go. I want to say good-bye before they take her. “Doug nods. He sits in silence as he is still in shock. Tears stream his face. I look at the couple before I leave and wonder who they are and why are they so upset. Maybe Doug’s parents, I thought to myself. They are quickly placed in the back of my mind. I go back to Missy’s room and sit with her some more. I whisper to her that we all love her. I told her that we also can’t get a hold of Christy. We keep trying to. I tell her to go with God. Then I sit and say a prayer while I hold her hand. I pray God would take her quickly to heaven. My dad and mom come in. I stroke her face a few times and play with her braid. I asked the nurse if we could cut a piece of her hair. The nurse I realize is the same nurse who told us what happened to Missy just about a half hour ago. She was a pleasantly round, older woman with curly dark hair. I realize that she had not left my mothers side. Neither has Rhonda, my mom’s friend. My Dad is quite. He keeps stroking her cheek with his large sausage like fingers. My sister and my brother are missing. This isn’t right. They should be here. We tell her we love her. My mom is sitting on a chair, being held up by the nurse and her friend. I feel numb inside. I feel like I have to come to terms quickly with all of this because my mom and dad are not going to function. My mom is in such shock, she can't talk or stand. Her friend is holding her up in a chair in the corner of the room. Things are going to need to be taken care of. I feel the need to step up to do it. Maybe it is Missy helping me already, telling me what I need to do. I have the bag of clothes in my hand. Her clothes. I pull them up to my chest and I squeeze them. I look down at the huge deep gash on her chin. This has to be where her head hit the dash board. It was like part of her chin in that area had been split. I now notice a new piece of gauze in my sister’s ear where the blood had been slowly oozing from. It is soaked. I notice the tube in her mouth is tied tighter and the ties are cutting into her cheeks a bit. Her tongue and face look more swollen. I feel like my heart is so shattered I can’t even begin to feel. My chest feels hallow. It’s like my heart is already gone. My lungs expand, but it feels so empty inside. There is still that fuzzy haze around everything I look at , like a dream. Please let me wake up. But the helicopter arrives. This is it! Our good-byes. The tears between all of us, even the nurse start to intensify. We each take a turn kissing her good bye and telling her we love her. We have to help my mom over to Missy. She can't stand on her own. Missy doesn’t move. Still in a coma. I’m still hoping she will open her eyes and this nightmare will be over. But the now full bloody gauze in her ear reminds me that I’m not going to get my wish. We leave to go home. I think I can drive myself. I need to think. Calls need to be made. I realize it is almost midnight. I start driving and to be honest, I don't see the road. I'm lost in my head. I was reviewing everything that happened this night I keep driving. I am thinking back to a few short hours ago. I relive this night over in my head trying to analize things as I drove. Maybe if I did something different. About 9 hours ago, I was leaving our house to go pick up Nicole. I was going to so to her softball game. Missy was out on the back porch holding her cat Feebee. She was petting her cat and smoking a cigarette. She had her hair in braids on both sides of her face. I told her I was leaving and I would see her later. She high fived me. I left to go pick up Nicole. And arrived at her softball game. I was really going to Nicole's game in hopes to see my ex boyfriend Jim. He saw me but acted like I wasn't even there, which broke my heart. I was still in love with him after two years of being broken up and even dating someone else. He is usually very sweet to me, so it hurt a bit. What was wrong with me anyway? I had realized tonight, with the way I still feel about Jim, I wasn’t being fair to Will. Will and I were like dynamite together. Our fights were getting so explosive. And we were fighting over everything now. I had decided that I was going to break up with him. This is why I moved home in the first place but I haven't worked up the courage to do it. I still cared for Will a lot.
After the game, Nicole and I sat in my car as our friend Danny and another guy leaned into the window of my car talking to us before we left the park. One of the guys commented on the angel hanging from my rearview mirror. Missy had given it to me a few days before. I had found 2 angels lying on my bed with a note that said, "I love you Tee" love Missy-Pooh. I remember smiling at that memory as I told them where I got the angels from. On the way home, I started to think of Missy and how proud I was of her and the person she was becoming. I decided to tell her when she got home how I felt and how proud I was of her. How could she be dead? I can't bring myself to believe this My thoughts also turned to Jim and Will with confusion. I got home. I walked in the door to find the potpourri kitty Missy made sitting on the table. “The last one she was giving away for free” as she told Nicole and me the night before. My heart swelled with pride as I thought how talented she was and that I had to remember to give this to Nicole. I was excited at the thought of Missy coming home so I could tell her how I felt. At that moment, the phone rang and it was the hospital calling saying Missy had been in an accident.
“This couldn’t really be happening,” I thought to myself as I drove home from the hospital, replaying the night in my head. I didn’t get to tell her how proud I was of her. I start to wonder if my intense thoughts of her was her telling me somehow she needed help.
I get home to find Will in my driveway. How did I even get here? I don't even remember driving home. I was so lost in my thoughts.
Sept.24th, 1997 midnight.
WIll sees my swollen eyes. He then takes me in his arms and hugs me. “What happened?”he asked in a quiet voice, his face very serious. I explain to him everything while my head was buried in his chest. But it seems harder to explain this time. The ball in my throat won’t let me say everything that I need to say. Maybe the realization is setting in. Before it didn’t seem real. It was like a dream. Something that only happened to someone else, not me. New tears start to flow as I get the story out. My voice became numb and emotionless finally. I explained to him, “Missy had been at work tonight. She had plans to see Jimmy tonight I guess. He came and picked her up at about 8:45 to go back to his house. She left with him. I guess he didn’t eat or something because his blood sugar was low. He has diabetes. He blacked out and hit another car head on in front of Riverside High School. (I start to visualize it in my head. There is a curve in the road there.) Instead of turning…he went… he went straight. The other car hit Missy’s side of the car. She hit her chin on the dash board it looks like. There is a big gash there. The doctors said her neck was separated at the C2-C3 vertebra. They said she is paralyzed from the neck down and would never be able to breath on her own. They said she had a lot of bleeding in her head. There was blooding dripping from her ear.” I stop and get lost in what I just said, seeing her lying on the table in my head. He just waited for me to continue, but never let go. I finally continued. “The paramedics took her by helicopter to Metro downtown. We are donating her organs. They are going to take them there.” I started to cry again. I felt sick. “My sister…” I couldn’t breath. He tightens his arms around me and kissed my head. I fight against my feelings because I know I have to keep it together. My mom came home with her friend driving. My dad did not show up. I’m not sure why he was coming here, but he was. It was 12:30 am. I decided to call one of my best friends, Alessa. She lives in Pittsburgh. I decided I needed her. I called to tell her what happened. Her mom answered. She didn’t seem happy, but she could tell by my voice that it was important. Alessa gets on the phone with a sleepy voice.
“Alessa, it’s Teresa.”
“Hey, what’s up? What time is it?”
“Its 12:30am. I called because I needed to talk to you.” I choke on a new sob.
“What is it? Are you o.k.? Did you and Will break up?”
“No,” I’m fighting the lump again, “Missy died in a car crash this evening.”
“WHAT?!” she shrieked.
I explained to her what happened. She was crying. Alessa has known us for as long as I can remember. I can hear Alessa run into her mom’s room. I hear her over the phone telling her mother what has happened. Her mom shrieks as Alessa did. I tell Alessa I have to go because my dad just got here. “I will be there in the morning.” She said before we hung up. That is what I needed.
My dad walks through the door, pushing Christy and her roommate Theresa in front of him. Christy wants to know what is going on. My father didn’t tell her. He didn’t want to upset her that late at night, though my sister was up, partying. Will stood behind me with his arms on my waist. Christy sees my mom on the couch with Rhonda over her with a glass of water. My mom says something that doesn’t sound coherent. “What is going on?” Christy says, now looking terrified. My Dad and Mom look to me. For what seems like the 10th time, I tell her what happened. She starts screaming at me, “NO! I want to see her! I have to go see her! You’re lying!”
I look at her and asked her with tears in my eyes, “Would I lie about this? Would Dad be here right now?” Christy crumbles onto the floor. Theresa has a shocked look on her face. She reaches down for Christy. The phone rings. I pick it up. It is Metro hospitals ICU. My brain is hazed when the male voice on the phone says to me, “I’m sorry to bother you. I know that the hospital that sent your sister told you that you didn’t need to come down here. But we need your family to come down to sign papers. We can’t declare your sister brain dead because there is still some activity. My heart skipped a beat. It dropped down to my stomach. They can’t declare her dead? Was there hope? My prayers have been answered? I couldn’t believe it. But then the nurse said, “I’m sorry for your loss. “ My heart felt sick again. So much for hope. She isn’t gone yet, but she will be.
I explained to my family that we needed to go to downtown Cleveland. It was about 40 miles from where we lived. Will and I rode together. My parents decided to go together in my dad’s truck. Christy and her friend Theresa decided to go separate as well. We all followed each other there. Will was in the lead because he knew where he was going. We finally arrived and we weren’t sure where to enter. We decided to go to the ER at Metro. It made sense for a helicopter to bring someone there. We walked into the building. We went to the front desk and asked for my sister. The nurse behind the desk gave us the information, but asked us to wait where we were standing. A few minutes later a nurse appeared and led us through these endless white hallways. It was 2 A.M. now. I was lost. Everything started to have the tunneling haze again. I only noticed what was in front of me. Everything else, including my family, Will and Theresa were hazy. I saw ahead a waiting room. The nurse told us that only family was allowed back in the ICU. Will and Theresa sat down in the waiting room. We went through the doors. The nurse led us to the front desk. My parents were handed papers to sign. I guess it was to give permission to take her organs, though I thought I signed those. Maybe it’s permission to remove her from life support. I looked to my left. The entire place was dark, except for one bed. There was a light on over her. I could see her blond hair, the plastic tube coming out of her mouth. The machine next to her bed had a pump going up and down. It looked like an accordion. A silver looking blanket was over her. She was naked underneath it. I walked over with Christy clutched on my arm. I sit down on a short stool and hold Missy’s hand. Christy goes around the other side to hold her other hand. My father comes in and stands at the end of the bed holding her foot. My mom takes a seat behind me, rubbing Missy’s thigh. We are quiet and I sit and pray to God to take her and to not let her suffer. A nurse walks in and explains that Missy’s is on a morphine drip and they will slowly wean her off the ventilator, until she passes. We sit there in silence mostly. Each of us lost in our own thoughts. Every now and then one of us would say out loud, “I love you Missy.” I called her Missy-pooh. That is what my Grandfather had called her when she was little before he died. I continued to call her that after he passed. Around 4am, I noticed her heart beat was getting very slow. It was hanging around 40. The pain in my chest started to increase. She was really going to be dead soon. I had to tell her I love her. And each of us were saying “I love you,” to her over and over again because we knew soon we would never be able to say it. She would never “hear” it again. I watched as the heartbeats went down to 15, and down to 10. Almost like it was counting down. Her heart was slowly stopping. Then it hit 0. The machine beeped quietly. The nurse came in and turned the machines off. I just snap and run out of the room, out of the unit and down the hall. I didn’t know what to do.. I just kept screaming “No” and I couldn’t stop crying. Will grabbed me when he saw me flying down the hall. He pulled me to the waiting room and held me on his lap with his arms around me while I cried and cried. Christy had followed me and Theresa had her arms around her. I don’t know where my parents are. I really am only aware of myself. I’m not even really aware of the arms around me, though I feel like they are holding me together into one piece. If they were to let go, I may fall on the ground. Will whispers to me, “I’m going to take you home.” We all decide to leave. The ride home was silent. Will didn’t say anything, he just held my hand. I was so tired. It was now almost 5 am. We got home around 5:30am. The minute Will got to my room he was passed out on the floor. I lay in my bed, in Missy’s old room, staring at the ceiling. I wish I could sleep. I looked over at the clock. It said 7am. School would be starting soon. I got up and didn’t even consider my appearance. I needed to go to the school and talk to the principal to tell them what happened. As I drove down my street, I see to my right ,Missy’s friend Tiffany's house. Holly was outside.Holly is Missy's friends mother. Our families know each other well. I should tell them. I stopped and backed my car up. I pulled into their driveway. Holly was very surprised to see me. I got out of the car and told Holly what happened. I think Missy’s friend Tiffany heard me from the house as she walked out because I heard a loud scream. To be honest I can’t function at this point. I feel so numb, that I almost don’t realize where I’m at and what is going on around me. Holly offers to drive me to the school and I let her. Tiffany comes with us. When we get to the school, Tiffany is gone. She has run to tell her friends. I go to the office with Holly and see Mr. Sater, the Vice Principal in the hall. Holly tells Mr. Sater what happened. He pulls us into his office. He seems very sad and says to me, “I just saw her yesterday. She was out in the parking lot, where she wasn’t suppose to be. I told her to move along into the building. She smiled at me and said “O.K. Mr. Sater. “ The way she smiled I didn’t have the heart to be mad at her.” I explained to him what happened. Just then a lot of girls and people are in the office hallway. I hear screaming and crying. I see kids clinging on to each other right outside his door . They are crying. A few of Missy’s friends see me sitting in Mr. Sater’s office and run to hug me as they are crying. I can’t even see their faces I’m so numb at this point. Word passed so fast around the school, there were at least 30 kids in the office crying as I left. I walked the hallway to leave and saw quite a few more kids crying. We get back to Holly’s and I get in my car and go home. As I pull up there are tons of cars in my drive. How did these kids get out of school so fast to get home before me? I walk into my house to find my future sister-in-law, Stacy, is sitting next to my mom, rubbing her back. There are a shit load of people already at our house. How did these kids get out of school so fast? I was overwhelmed, in a good way though. I asked my sister-in-law where Michael, my brother, was. I realized last night, we never called him to the hospital. I guess my father had tried, but no one answered. She told me with a very worried look in her eyes, “Michael took off. I don’t know where he went. He was very upset. I’m worried.” I’m worried too, especially the way my brother drives. My dad is already there again. It’s 9am now. How did he get here so early with such little sleep? There is so much that needs to be done. An old friend of mine, Shannon, heard the news and showed up. I was grateful to see her, though we hadn’t been in touch in so long. My father is bitching that we have no coffee. I realize Will isn’t awake. There is too many people in the kitchen, so I decide to go to my room and start to get dressed. I shower, which I’m in no mood to do at this point in time. I get dressed. My mom’s friend Philomena comes over. I’m relieved because she will know how to help my mom. That will take worrying about her off my hands for the moment. I’m so grateful to Philomena. Phil already had called a doctor to get my mom something for her to sleep. What an amazing woman! The only sad part of her coming over is that Missy’s senior pictures were finally ready. She was planning on bringing them over today anyway. She brings the pictures in. All the kids there wanted to see them as much as my mom and I did. There were pretty amazing pictures of her. One stuck out as my favorite. A picture of Missy in this cute little dress on the beach, pulling her skirt up a bit, playfully with a mischievous look on her face. Then the next one is of her still holding her skirt up but laughing hard. Those stand out as my two favorites. My mom decides to go up to where she goes every morning, Perry Deli. That is where Missy worked and where she was working last night before she came home. My mom goes up there and the minute she is there, a tv crew is there already doing a story on Missy. My mom gives an interview even though she can’t think straight, hadn’t slept and is in terrible emotional turmoil. How rude of them to think that she can give an interview?
Sept 24th, 1997 around 11:30am. We are all getting ready to leave to head to the funeral home. We need to make arrangements. Will was awake and dressed as best as he could be considering he had to wear the same clothes. He didn't have time to drive back to Strongsvile to get his things. He and I are standing in the yard. We are in the front yard except Christy. I yell loudly "Christy, MIssy come on, we are leaving" After I said it, I realized that I had just called for Missy to come. She isn't here anymore. I've said that maybe a thousand times and today that phrase brings me to my knees. I start crying hard. WIll does his best to help me up from my knees as I'm crying. I say to him, "She is gone" I look over and my mom is crying as is my dad at what I had just said. I straighten up and take a deep breath. I tell Will, "We have to go now." I realize that I have to keep myself together. I want to make sure in the end that Missy will know how much she is loved. Christy comes with me and Will to the funeral home. Dad, mom, my brother who finally arrived and my sister in law go in another.
We get to the funeral home and start to make some choices. I'm 20 years old and I"m picking out the "box" my sisters body will be in forever. What the fuck! We decide on a white one that has a pink copper tinge to it. We choose her vault too. I didn't konw anything about burials considering my real last one was when I was 10. I didn't know they put your casket it a vault.
Sept 24th, 1997, around 2pm.
Christy and I decide that we want to go see Jimmy to find out how he is doing. We needed for him to know that we weren’t mad at him. Will drives me and my sister over to the hospital from the funeral home. We head to the nurses station to ask where he is. He is on the second floor the nurse tells us. We head to the second floor. As I got up there I see one of my oldest friends, Dana. She is working on that floor. I see her ask her where Jimmy is. She suddenly realizes that it is my sister who is his girlfriend that died last night. She explains to me that Jimmy was just told that his girlfriend had died. We hold each other and I feel my legs give out. She leads me to his room with my sister and Will in tow. As we walk in, we see Jimmy laying on the bed. His face is red, streaked with tears. His sheet pulled up half way. I told him that we came to see how he was and we knew it was an accident and we weren’t mad at him. Christy and I walk over to him and both hug him while he is in bed. All three of us are crying. In the corner, I hear I sob. I look over and see the man that was sitting in the waiting room with Doug last night. He was Jimmy’s father. I understood now why he was so upset. I realize that it must have been his wife with him last night. We sit with Jimmy and hold each other for awhile. We really didn’t say too much. We can’t imagine at this time what he must feel like. But we were going to be supportive of him. It is what Missy would’ve wanted us to do. It is what we need to do. We are in terrible pain, I can’t imagine what kind of pain he must be in.
We leave the hospital because we have other things to attend to. When we get home, we find food had arrived. People are just leaving it on our door step. I realize then I have not eaten all day. I didn’t feel like it. There are flowers as well. Will decides he is going to go back to his place to get things to wear for the next few days and to wash up. My brother Michael has been at a park most the morning. He told me that he just can't deal with this.
The phone is ringing off the hook with condolences. The phone rings again and I answer it. It was my ex-boyfriend, Jim”. I figured he was calling because he knew, but that wasn’t the case. He called for another reason. He said, “I wanted to call and apologize for not talking to you last night. I wanted to talk to you, but a girl I had been dating was on my softball team. She would’ve made trouble for you just because I said hi to you. I didn’t want that for you, so I just didn’t say anything to you. Will you forgive me?” “Yeah, sure” I said in a quiet voice. I was so happy to hear that from him, to hear that he even thought of me and cared enough to apologize. At the same time I felt numb. I think I was still in some sort of shock. He heard my voice sounded sad and asked me what was wrong. “Last night after I left your softball game, my sister Missy, was killed in a car accident.” He was quiet. Didn't say a word. I think he was in shock. He offered his apologies and asked if there is anything he could do. I asked him if he would be at the funeral. “Of course I’ll be there. I work nights, but I can figure it out.” We said good-bye and hung up. About an hour later my grandma came through the door. Her neighbors bought her up. And then Alessa arrived with her family. Alessa was going to stay with me. Missy's boyfriend Jimmy came over after he was released from the hospital, as did my friends, Nicole, Chad and Brian. Brian I don’t know very well. He really is here for Nicole and Chad, but I thought it was nice all the same. I'm glad Nicole has him to lean on because I know she is messed up about this too. Will came back. I started to wonder if this was going to bring us together. He, out of everyone will understand how I feel. His mom and brother died when he was younger. I care enough for Will that I want things to work out. He isn't a bad guy, just our tempers are too much the same. And he is more stubborn than anyone I ever knew. For now I can't even address our relationship. I can't take losing someone else I care about at this moment.
Around 6pm , we all sat around the tv to watch the news cast on Missy. JImmy was there as was my grandmother, Alessa, Will, Nicole, Chad and Brian. Also My sister and her friends and my mom and dad were there. It was very sad to see that is how my sister ends up on the news, but they did a nice job on it, incorperating a poem Missy had written when she was 14.
That night, Alessa and Will both slept in my room. I couldn’t sleep. I walk out to the living room and started to look through pictures of my sister and sat up all night just numb.
Sept 25th, 1997
I’m going to be honest with you, today is a blur. I just slightly aware that more food and flowers and friends were showing up. I was in charge of all of it. How could I not be aware? Shannon, who heard my father bitching about coffee, realized we had no coffee maker. She went out and bought one for us to have. I can’t help be feel amazed by her kindness and the kindness of others. It means so much to us, words can’t even express it.
I took a drive. I was in no condition to drive. I hadn’t sleep since I got up on Sept. 23rd. There was something though that was keeping me going and keeping me focused. Almost like I had to show Missy one last time how much I loved her. I had to make sure her funeral was perfect and a real tribute to her. I had “Legends Of the Fall” soundtrack playing in my car as I drove along doing all these errands. I did them alone because I needed to be alone. I need to think and be with my pain. I keep remembering all these things, especially the last few days with her. The music in my CD playeris soothing to me. I looked out the window of my car when I realized that the last two days have been the most beautiful days I have ever witnessed weather wise. Temperature is perfect, the sun and even the few clouds are perfect. Almost like God was happy to have Missy “home”. I arrive home to a long list of things my grandmother thinks needs to be done. This list happens to fall on me because it seems to me that I’m the only one functioning. I’m starting to get short tempered with my grandmother. Out of everyone, she is the one that is making me angry. I really don’t feel I have the time to focus on the stupid shit she thinks we need. I look at the list. It says I need to get :dish towels, fly swatter, dish washer. DUMB SHIT!! I’m at a boiling point here. I walk into the living room and she is there. She complains to me "Tree Tree, there are flies everywhere. Could you go to the store and get a fly swatter to kill them?" I just fucking lose it! I yell at her, “There are flies in the house because there are a hundred people coming and going.. if you want to kill the fucking flies, take a newspaper and hit them like this. “ I rolled up a newspaper and I ran through the room and killed every fly I could see with one swat for each fly. I was a fly killer! I was the Karate Kid. No fly was going to remain alive. And it felt good to release this anger this way. I must of looked like a crazy person, but it was a great release! It made my grandmother cry, but at this time, I don’t give a shit. I have enough to do without the stupid shit she is worrying about. Why is she pushing me?!
I ran outside and calmed down a bit. Will ran after me , but left me to myself. He just watched me. I was just so angry I wanted more things to hit. My mom’s friend, Philomena was dealing with my grandmother as I calmed down. I am trying to be strong, but some things are too much right now.
Will comes over and holds me. "Are you o.k?" he asks. "YEah" I reply with a laugh. "PLease don't be mad at me, but you need to eat something. You haven't eaten all day have you?" he asks looking at me. I can't meet his gaze. I'm not sure why. "No I haven't. I'm not really hungry." I explain to him. " Do you want me to make you a small sandwhich? There is a big deli tray in there." He says pointing at the house. "Yeah, that sounds fine. Turkey or roast beef would be good."
He goes in the house. More people are pulling in the driveway.. I don't want to be here.. Will brings me the sandwhich. I tell him that I want to be alone and I was going for a short drive. I end up at Perry Park and I just sit there for a bit listening to the waves crash, taking in the last bit of sun the indian summer offers. I realize I have a lot more to do. Again I decide to stay up all night to look through pictures. I picked out all the prayers. I was making a tape for the music at the church. I hear a soft knock on my door around midnight. It's my ex boyfriend Tom. We didn't date very long, but he was still a good friend now. He had heard the news and wanted to let me know he was sorry. He wanted to be there for me, like I had been there for him in the past when he was going through the worst time of his life. He came in and we talked for awhile. ALessa and Will were both asleep in my room. Tom stayed up with me and helped me go through her pictures. He left at some point, but I'm not sure the time.. I felt I had everything organized and went to lay down in my room next to Will on the floor and cuddle up to him. I lay on his chest with his arm around me. He woke up long enough to do that and was quickly asleep. I'm jealous at his ease to fall asleep. ALessa was taking my bed. I would have to get up soon to get ready for the calling hours. I just laid there with my eyes closed but my mind didn't stop racing. I thought of how tomorrow was going to be and wondered who would be there. As I laid there, I wondered how Missy would look and if she would be happy at what I pulled together for her. Was she in heaven with my grandfather? That was my one comforting thought. SHe had someone in heaven so that she wasn't alone. THen I thought my grandmother (my dad's mom).She will be headed there soon as well. She is dying of cancer and is on hospice. I think of Jim's phone call and wonder if he will be there tomorrow. I notice that the light is coming in through my window. Alessa and Will are fast asleep still. I decide to get up and at least shower since everyone else will be up soon.
I'm not sure what to wear. A lot of my things are still at Will's. I haven't moved everything back home. But I find something that I can at least say was alright enough, but I'm in such a weird mind right now, I can't tell you what I am wearing. I have to start getting things together to take to the funeral home.
My family meets at my mom's house. We all drive together in a procession of cars. Will and I get there first. I run in. I stop before I walk into the room where my sister is lying. Suddenly I'm afraid. I take a deep breath and go in. I walk up slowly next to my sisters coffin. I look down and I feel sick. She doesn't even look like my sister. The tubes are all done now. I see the gash on her chin. No amount of make up they have could cover it. Her eyes are closed, but they don't look right. And her hair. What is wrong with it? I then realize the mortician cut it. He took her braids out and instead of wiping the blood out, he cut it. It looks like a mullet almost. Where is her beatiful hair? Why didn't he just leave it in the braids? She looks horrible. Her hands are cold and hard. THey try to cover up her bruises with so much makeup. Oh my God! I'm pissed. Will is standing next to me now. I ask him to make sure my family doesn't come in yet. My mom and dad can't see her like this! He goes out, but I decide I can't let him do that. I stop everyone and tell them "I don't think you guys should go in. We need to close her casket." My mom and dad wanted to see her, as did my brother and sister. It is only right. My brother hasn't seen a lot of us lately. And to be honest, he nor I could remember the last time he spent with just Missy. He is upset at what he sees. HE tells me that this isn't the last memory he wants to have of what his sister looked like because that isn't her. We are all crying. Jimmy and his family arrive early to see Missy too before everyone starts to arrive. I hear voices out in the hall. Some of Missy's friends have arrived early. I run out and stop them. I ask them not to come in yet. That we are having them close the casket. I go to the funeral director and ask him now to close the casket. We say our final good byes to Missy. He tells us once he closes it, he will not open it in front of us again. Jimmy's mom bought a picture of him and Missy. We decide to set it up on the table near the casket.In the picture, Missy's hair is in a bun with lose strains sticking out and she is wearing a tie-dye Grateful Dead tshirt. Jimmy has his arm around her. I place the other pictures boards up with help from the funeral director. People start arriving. My mom has to sit on a stool with me, my sister or one of her friends holding her up. So many people are here and the line goes on forever. I think all of our hometown has come! I decide to take a break and go outside for a moment for some air. I see a boy named Micheal sitting on the ground crying. I walk over to him and kneel down next to him. I ask him if he is o.k. He is not. He turns around and hugs me and together we sit on the ground hugging each other crying. But I find myself comforting him. I release him and tell him I have to go back inside. I"m standing in the foyer talking to Will when I see my Jim walk through the door. For some reason he is all that I see.. I excuse myself from Will. Walk right into Jim's arms. He holds me there for awhile. I find myself feel at peace for the first time in a few days. SOmething tells me to tell him how I feel right now. What if I never got the chance again? I didn't even care that Will was standing there watching us. Will is such an amazing guy but i know we aren't meant for each other. I whisper into Jim's ear, "I want to tell you right now, incase I never get the chance to ever tell you again, I love you. I have always loved you and will always love you. I just need you to know that." He whispers back in my ear, "I love you too". My heart that has been dead for the last few days feels a warm glow around it. He holds me a little while longer and then lets me go. I see Will in the corner. He has been watching us but never said anything. I feel guilty. Guilty because at this moment I can't let him go. Regardless, I care for him so much and I don't want to lose anyone right now. I am guilty because I know this is selfish of me.
More people arrive and the day seems never ending. And we still have one more time to do this. It's so hard. And for some reason I really don't want to stand in the front of the room and shake everyones hand. I'm feeling exhausted. But seeing how many people are there for our family amazes me. Such a great community we live in and we feel very much loved!
That night my mom calls me and Christy into her room. She cant really talk or stand long. She still seems out of it. It's hard seeing her like this. She tells us to each take one of the pills the doctor prescribed her. It was lorazepam. I'm pretty drug naive and think that this will knock me out cold so I could finally sleep. It doesn't. I stay up again all night. Making sure that everything is right for the church service tomorrow. I then sit and stare at pictures of Missy and cry. I finally lay down around 4 am and try in vein to get sleep. But my mind is still going. I decide to just fuck everything and go take a shower. I try again to find something to wear. But again, there is really nothing. I'm speaking at the service so I need to find something. I find an old pair of dress pants and I wear a beige sweater of Missy's. I almost can't bring myself to put it on. I feel hollow.
We arrive at the funeral home for our last goodbyes. I bought Missy's favorite Elmo blanket and ask the funeral director if he could put it in with her. The seniors on the football team who have all known Missy since kindergarten ask if they can carry her casket. But my dad has a fit. He wants these "people" who haven't seen her in years to do it. Including my brother, who shouldn't have to carry his own sisters casket. And my dad choses Will, who I feel should not carry her casket either. I know that deep down Will is struggling about memories of losing his mom. He didn't tell me that but I just know it. My dad and I fight, but he gets what he wants which pisses me off to no end.
We leave the funeral home and the Perry police escort us to the church. The procession is so long! I can't believe it. We are riding in the limo. Just me, my mom, Christy and Jimmy (Missy's boyfriend) . My dad is driving with his wife Jan behind us.
We walk into the church behind her casket and I'm in awe! The entire church, every last seat was taken and people were standing along the back window. We follow her casket to the front and sit down in the front pew. Missy's co-worker Barb reads and amazing book called "The Fall of Freddie the leaf". I love it! Such a fitting book! Next Missy's friend Tiffany tries to read a poem but can't through her tears. so Lindsay, who is another friend of Missy's, finishes it for her. I'm next. I don't even feel nervous. There is easily over 500 people in here. I look at Missy's casket and try and draw strength from it. Then I look in the crowd and find "my Jim" and I set my eyes on him and begin. I pull strength from seeing him. He is right in line of sight behind Missy's coffin. And I speak. And I makes jokes about my sister. And I honor her the best way I know how. I sit back down and my friend Nate who I've known since we were little, grabs my hand. He is sitting next to me in the front to be in charge of the music. Next Mr. Dehaas, who was our middle school guidance counselor and also a Deacon, gives his thoughts. He volunteered to speak and I was so grateful to have a teacher speak for her. At the end we follow the casket out the doors while the song "Butterfly Kisses" plays. The song finally pushes me over the edge to cry. I have been holding it together fine. But now the realization that we are getting close to the end is hitting me. I get in the limo and we all head to the cemetery. The procession just got 5 times longer and all of the Perry police are escorting us now. Its insane and comforting. It wasn't a long trip to the cemetery. Once we get there I get out of the limo, I close my eyes and feel the warm sun on my face. Jim finds me and stands near by me. The Pallbearers bring her casket. And the end of this goes too quick. And I am back to being numb. Things start to get blurry again and I feel like I'm in a tunnel. I am once again underwater and not able to hear. Feels like all the blood in my body is over my ears! Its over and I stand there numb as I watch my sisters young friends place flowers on her casket in a long line. I am aware that Jim is standing next to me but I'm too numb to say anything. I stand there dazed not even fully aware I hold a flower in my hand. Then it happens! I know it had to be Missy! The funeral director walks by me and his foot catches the railings holding up Missy's casket over her grave. He totally goes down into a bunch of chairs that were there. He bites it hard! ANd I know that it somehow has to be Missy! You would have to know her to know this! Things were too sad and she needed to make us laugh. Everyone near by looks horrified that this just happened. I see several of Missy's friends looking at me. Almost waiting for me to react. And I do! With loud laughter. And then I see all the smiles spread across their faces. I look at Jim and I'm trying to hold the laughter in, but I can't. All these emotions in me take a toll and he follows me out of the tent. The limo leave us there so we need to get rides with other people. I find Will and head back to the church for our luncheon with him. So many people came back to the church too. I finally ate some food after not eating for days. And my mom is sitting across from me. Will on my left and Jim on my right and all my friends are sitting at the table with us. My mom finally looks like she is smiling. She is smiling because she knows how I feel about Jim and he is there with me, but she is also finding the humor that I'm sitting between both Will and Jim. I can read her eyes. I think its the first time she has come out of her "coma" and she finds humor in my predicament! I decide I need to be alone. ALl the emotions of the day and the lack of sleep for 4 days has worn on me. Not to mention I knew soon I would have to deal with the choice I was about to make. I leave everyone behind and go for a walk in the woods behind the church were they have an outdoor stations of the cross. It is so beautiful out and I'm alone with my thoughts and God. Though not for long. Just as I'm leaving the woods Will and everyone else comes looking for me. We go home with the plans to meet later in the cemetery.
That night me Dana, Alessa, Christy, Jimmy, Will and Jim all meet Missy's friends at the cemetery. It was their homecoming dance that night. And after homecoming they all wanted to meet in the cemetery. The Perry Police were notified of this before and they allowed it. Her friends didn't want her to be alone her first night in the cemetery. I can't say how much that gesture means to us. Tons of kids were there. How sad to spend the night of homecoming in a cemetery. But we make the most of it! It was so dark though. So "my Jim" thinks its a good idea to turn his head lights on and position his car to put the lights on her grave. In doing so he accidentally runs over another grave.. Almost hit the marker. The marker was so low thank God. Jim jumps out of his car to apologize to the grave for almost running it over. It made me laugh. We all told stories and talked. The police even came by to check on us but they didn't stay long. Just wanted to make sure we were all ok. I was feeling grateful and wondered if she was smiling along with us. I have such amazing people in my life. I'm not sure what is about to happen, but I know that we have so many people to help us get through it!