Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Angels in Leather.

It was October. I was 16. We had just placed 2nd in a volleyball tournament after a loss to Willard. The second place finish stung even worse because they beat us on our home court...in our own tournament. We were all pretty upset. This would be a night that I would learn a life lesson about perspective.

My best friend Kim and I were inseparable. Her parents were out of town and we were going to be hanging out there with two of our other friends. We were totally honest with my parents about this and they trusted us. (So that isn't where this story is going!) When I left my house, I left a note to my mom and dad that I signed, "Love, Chrissy....PS I love you too Jarad!" I ran out the door and had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I chalked it up to being scared of the dark on the way out to my car, and sped to Kim's house. We had heard of a little party that we were going to stop by and I wanted to change before we went because the yellow warm up pants were not doing it for me. It was a little after 9:00 pm. We were driving down a road that was known for being dangerous, but was pretty much impossible to avoid. Many times we would speed down that road not thinking twice about it. But not that night. For some reason, we were going the speed limit. As we belted out the words to "Last Dance With Mary Jane" a car turned in front of us. I had just enough time to think, "What an idiot!" I thought for one second that someone had turned into a driveway that I knew was there somewhere. In the next second, as we smashed into the back of the car, I knew that something was very wrong.

Kim pulled into the driveway just feet from where the accident occurred. She grabbed her cell phone and we jumped out of her truck. As she was dialing for help, I ran to the car. I placed my hand on the drivers side door and froze. I couldn't see much, but what I saw told me that I would be of no help to these girls. I turned and threw up. I was starting to lose it when a man approached us. I don't remember his face, but I remember he was wearing a black leather jacket. He offered it to me because I was shaking uncontrollably. I declined for fear that I would get sick again. He crouched down with us and prayed. For just one moment, I was able to get it together and realize...my life had just been spared. The next hours were a blur. Emergency vehicles, reporters and news cameras were everywhere.

Meanwhile, my parents were out to dinner with a group of friends. My dad had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. They were in separate cars and he told my mom that he was going to go the back way which would take him right past Kim's street. As he approached the bottom of the hill, he saw it. The road was blocked quite a ways each direction. He threw his truck into park and jumped out. He grabbed a reporter and yelled, "IS IT A FIRE??" She told him no. "IS IT KIDS?" He demanded. She nodded. He sprinted up the hill to find two wrecked vehicles, one being Kim's, and someone lying in the road covered in a white sheet. I turned as I heard my name and ran to my Dad. I remember this moment so distinctly and others may too...they showed it on the news for days. My poor mother and brother had just returned home to a message that said, "Mom...Dad..it's me. There was an accident. It's bad." Imagine the panic. Someone finally called and told them where we were and they were there in minutes.

As the details came in here is what we learned. There were three girls. Two of the girls were freshmen at our school and the other was the 17 year old sister of one of the younger girls. The 17 year old was still alive. One was pronounced dead at the scene and the other died on the way to the hospital. They struck the tree going approximately 80 miles per hour. They bounced off and that is when we hit the back of their car. We later learned the accident happened when the young driver turned to the backseat. She lost control and that was that.

As the months went by, I became very depressed and lost A LOT of weight. My 6'0 frame only carrying 115 pounds was not a pretty sight. I didn't sleep and was terrified to leave my family. My friendships changed....a LOT changed. But as I emerged from this dark time in my life, I could see clearly, I was never alone. God was with us the whole way. From the note to my brother to the slow rate of speed we were traveling at. From my dad taking the back way to the kindness of a stranger who stopped to pray. Which brings me to the brightest part of my story.

Months later, my mom ran into someone she knew who asked her, "How is Chrissy doing after the accident?" My mom assured her that I was fine. "Well, my ex-husband was the first one there and didn't realize until later who the girls were." My mom was gasped, "OH! He was the sweet man who stopped to pray with the girls!" She looked at my mom as if she had grown a second head! "Um, no. My ex-husband does not pray...and he said he never even spoke to the girls." And this is when I discovered, my guardian angel wears leather.


Kim said...

Chrissy...that was 13 years ago and without a doubt a defining moment in both our lives. Good and bad things happened as a result of that night. At 30, I lay here crying at the impact this has had on me as a person. Everything happens for a reason, thank you, for reminding of the angel that wore leather, the importance of loved ones and of how to find positive in such tragedy. I can't talk about that night without shaking and my voice cracking and I'm always reminded of it when I see emergency vehicles, but being around high schoolers, I sometimes feel compelled to share pieces of it as they act invincible. Aside from all of the side effects, I remember how our family adjusted during the time, my friendships changed and people were there to lean on for the longest time. God is amazing and he was definitely with us that night...and always. Love you to pieces!

Sheila said...

Chrissy and Kim...I remember that night too well. I thank God for you two and Angels!

Lindsey Underhill Conley said...

I remember that. Autumn and Emily were friends of mine. I remember how some people in school were so cruel. That must have been so hard for you both. Alicia (Auntumns sister who survived) used to write me letter after the accident. I was kind of her therapy. The funerals were horrible. I loved being able to hear the story told from you. I never even once thought about the impact of that accident had on your life. Thank you so much for sharing a very difficult time in your life.

Chrissy said...

Lindsey, that means a lot. It was tough, but looking back...we were kids. They were kids who lost their friends. Luckily, I had a friend who was friends with them too and she helped to bridge the gap between us all and set the story straight. (Brady Sloan) Yes, the funerals were horrible. I remember them both as if it were yesterday. I can honestly say I still think of them. Before I got married, I cried because they would never get to walk down the aisle. When I had my own children, my heart ached because I could not imagine the pain their parents are still enduring. Thank YOU for your comment. It really means a lot to me. Bless you and your sweet little family that I just saw on facebook! And BRAVO to you as a foster parent and a blessing to children in need!

Kim said...

Lindsey, I agree with Chrissy and appreciate your comment. It is comforting to know Alicia reached out in order to heal. I remember the funerals being so numbing. I remember feeling inclined to go to show that we cared and we were sensitive to all that the families were having to go through. I remember being scared of how the kids at school reacted and so thankful to Brady for being there for us. Looking back, Chrissy is right. We were all kids and they were just mourning in their own way. It is overwhelming to think of all of the memories that are attached to that event.

Tiffany Spice said...

My Best friend and roomate Ben Pearcy was dating Autumn. We dated after the accident for years and I feel like I know Autumn through him, he still thinks of her often and talks about her. Thank you so much for writting this because I can't wait for him to come home and read this, I think hearing it from somebody who was there and how you have grown from it and what you went through would be good therapy for him. Again, I thank you