November 4th, 2000
I awoke to my cell phone ringing. It was 8:30am Monday morning. I had stayed up extremely late studying for a test with my friend Dusty. "Hello?" I said.
"Meghan! Your sister's been in a car accident. I don't know how bad it is. Nannie and I are leaving now for the airport, we will call you when we get to Atlanta.
"MOM! MOM!" I screamed to get her to stop.
"Mom I can't get there that fast!"
"We will call you when we get there," she repeated.
"Mom, what happened?"
"I don't know, here is the name and number to the hospital. Her nurses name is Lynn. I will call you when we get there!"
I hung up. What in the world had just happened? I was definitely dreaming. Wait...no I wasn't.
I screamed at the top of my lungs. Nothing. I picked up my phone and called my friend Lisa. At the time, she was living in Portland.
"Lisa," I screamed, "my sister was in a car accident and it's really bad!"
"Meghan, Meghan its going to be okay."
"No! NO! It's not! I don't think she is okay!"
That was how the morning started. My new roommate came into my room shortly afterwards. She offered to take me to Portland instead of going to class that day. I declined because I wouldn't make it in time to get on the flight with my mom and nannie. I sat and waited and waited and waited. I am not sure to this day what I was waiting for. But I kept waiting. I soon went into survival mode. I took a shower. I packed a bag. I am not sure what the bag was for. Where was I going? Maybe to Portland, but as of then I wasn't going anywhere. I wanted a nice outfit in there too. I convinced myself I could go take my test and then be back by the time my mom called. My roommate convinced me that was not the best idea I had ever had and offered to talk to the professor.
I had the thought of calling all my sister's friends. They needed to know. Afterall, I am not sure if any of them knew. I can't remember exactly who I had to call, but the one I do remember is Heather.
Heather worked for President Clinton at the time in the White House. How in the world would I get a hold of her? I don't think the white house is listed in the yellow pages. I decided an email would be okay for now until I found her number.
Steph's been in an accident. please call me asap!
My phone rang 2 seconds later, literally.
I explained to Heather what I knew. I told her I was scared and she assured me she would get some information. She called her sources, my now darling friend AC (from my GA trip) to get the scoop. AC and Heather had spent some time together earlier that summer with Steph in D.C.
Not much of that day is clear to me. I know I woke up at 8:30 and Steve took me to lunch around 2:00...I think. Who could eat at a time like this? I remember sitting there, drinking water...staring at my phone, hoping and praying that it would AND would not ring. I needed an update, but did I want one?
My mom's shop called shortly after returning home. They had fantically called the neighbor to get my cell phone number. Please keep in mind that at this point, I had plans to return to Portland, but nothing from there. Janelle from mom's shop called to tell me they had pooled their money together at the shop to send me to Atlanta. I was very very thankful.
Mrs. Shealy called later in the day. She had heard word that I was scared and concerned so she wanted to reassure me that Steph was okay and she would keep me posted throughout the night. She would pick my mom and nannie up from the airport and have them call asap.
Lisa and her dad came to get me about 4:30pm. The whole ride was quiet. I thought I would be sick. I made Lisa's dad pullover at the rest stop near Canby as I was fearful of getting sick in the car. I made it home and Jason came to take me to get some dinner. Once again, I didn't eat. I answered phone calls and made phone calls. We left Applebee's and went to my grandmother's knowing that my whole family was there. Everyone was concerned and worried. Aunt Sue and Uncle Mike stated they would make the trip to Atlanta as well. Grandma handed me some cash and said, please call when you get there.
Jason had somewhere to be so he dropped me off at Ryan's so I could sit with him and his dad while Katie was getting off work. They didn't want me to be alone.
I remember not being able to sleep that night. My thoughts went like this: "If I fall asleep, the phone will ring and it will be my mom saying my sister didn't make it." So in my head it would have been horrible to fall asleep. So I watched TV all night.
Aunt Val called to confirm that she had spoken to me the night before. She was half asleep when I called and thought she was dreaming. I confirmed. Aunt Val and Uncle Dave would be in the car asap. They lived in Birmingham so their drive was about 3 hours to ATL. My dear Aunt Pat picked me up at 5:45ish to take me to the airport. I got on the plane and the next 8 hours were dreadful! I had spoken to Jason Miller twice. Once the night before...he told me he was going to stay up and pray all night and he would call again in the morning. When he called that morning, he sounded hopeful. It put my mind at ease for about 5 minutes. He said he would meet me at my gate when I arrived that day. I expressed my concern that he wouldn't know who I was and vice versa. He assured me he would know.
I remember sitting in the black very hard chairs at the airport. I was anxious with no one to call at that point. I called Heather. We cried together. I expressed my concern that Steph wasn't going to be okay.
I boarded the plane shortly after I hung up with Heather.
Over and over again played my version of the accident. No one had told me details, but I had it all played out in my head. I eventually thought maybe I should get some sleep since my cell phone HAD to be turned off. I would doze off and jump every minute in a dream that my cell was ringing again. I think I had that dream 100 times. It's is the truth.
I was anxious yet terrified to get off the plane. I had been out of reach for about 4 hours. Who knew what waited off the jetway? For all I knew, someone (maybe someone I didn't even know) would be standing there to tell me she didn't make it.
I can't remember the walk up the jetway. I do remember seeing my Uncle Scott, my Godfather Uncle Dave, Mr. Shealy and Jason (both I had not met before) I will never forget that Jason held my hand the entire way through the airport, in the car, through the LONG hallways of the hospital and into my sister's room. What a saint he was for me!
I reached my mom in the ICU waiting area and fell apart. She told me to pull it together and she had gotten special permission to take me back to my sister, although ICU visiting hours were long over.
I walked in the room, holding tightly to Jason's hand. I wanted to be sick when I saw my beautiful sister lying there. It wasn't really her. She wasn't supposed to look that way. I talked to her for a bit and we joked around with her for a bit. None of which she responded. Earlier she had responded to some visitors. Ones that were crying, she sensed. Her heart monitor would speed up when someone was crying.
That night my mother, nannie, and I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House down the street.
Didn't really sleep that night either. Wednesday morning walked to the hospital to be greeted by her nurse. She had taken a turn for the worst and they were doing "everything they could".
To Be Continued...