Emily s Story

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“It’s crazy how quickly life can change. In the blink of an eye, your life can go from nearly perfect to nearly shattered.

February 15th, 2011 will forever be the hardest, most excruciating day for my family. The day that changed us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The day that turned our world upside down.

On a sunny, bright Tuesday afternoon, I was relaxing after a long day of school while watching the news. Breaking News came on. They spoke about a fatal car accident on Folly Road causing road closures and miles/hours of traffic. Not thinking much of it, I went on with my afternoon. I ate dinner. I did my homework. I went to a basketball game.

Sitting at the basketball game, I received a phone call from my mom. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much pain, fear, and anxiousness in my mom’s voice. My mom is the strongest person I have ever met, and hearing her voice on the other end of the phone was heartbreaking.

She said that my oldest sister Meghan had been in an awful accident. At that point, I had no clue just how bad ‘awful’ meant.

I frantically called my sister’s cell phone at least 50 times. I left voicemails saying, ‘Meghan, please just answer. I’ll come help you. Where are you? I’ll come pick you up.’ She didn’t answer, but I knew she would be ok, she was Meghan, and everything would be just fine. Little did I know that this phone call could have such a huge impact on my life.

I quickly got in the car and rushed to MUSC where the ambulance was headed.

Little by little, details started coming. The word about Meghan being in an accident quickly got around. My family and I started receiving hundreds of phone calls, text messages, and Facebook messages. It was almost too much to handle.

I knew the outcome couldn’t be good, but I still held on to hope that Meghan would pull through. She was the strongest, fiercest, most strong-willed person that I had ever met. We knew she would be just fine.

After arriving to the Emergency Room, one of the nurses took us into a waiting room. Shortly after, another nurse came and took my family into a different room. The room was all white, with tons of other nurses, doctors, priests, and a chaplain.

I remember thinking to myself: ‘This can’t be happening. I don’t believe this. Is it time to wake up now?’ I wanted to pass out. Then, the doctor spoke the most dreaded words of all: ‘I’m sorry, we did everything we could. Meghan didn’t make it through.’

I used to think that no matter what tragedy went on around me, it would never happen to us. You never think that your 19-year-old sister could be killed in a car accident. You never think that you could go from the highest point in your life to the complete lowest point in just five minutes. You never think it can happen to you.

But let me tell you one thing I’ve learned in the past five years: it can happen. In the blink of an eye. With no warning at all. And with no set of directions on how to survive after.

 

Denial.

Anger.
Bargaining.
Depression.
Acceptance.

I was in a constant state of going through these first four stages of grief in a repetitive cycle. I denied the fact that Meghan died. I was angry that she was the only one in the car who didn’t make it. I bargained for more time. I was confused and I was sad. For the longest time, I never had even the slightest glimpse of acceptance.

But finally something changed. I’m not sure what caused it, what led to it, or what pushed me over the slump that took so long to go away.

Acceptance.

As cliché as this may sound, I’ve learned that we honestly have to live each day like tomorrow won’t come. We have to love with all our heart because we never know who needs it the most. We have to give with all we’ve got because there are people who need it so much more than us. We have to listen with both ears and see with both eyes, the good in the world.

We have to stop arguing over petty things, because they don’t matter in the large scale of life. If we don’t, we’ll regret it. We have to forgive. We have to forget. We have to simply realize that although this world is so broken and so full of hurt, we can make it through. We have to believe that we are strong enough for this life that we were handed. We have to live with a purpose. We have to have faith in a bigger and better plan ahead.

But most importantly, we have to allow ourselves to feel emotions. We have to allow for time to be sad, but we cannot stay there. We have to get up and fight each day no matter how hard it is. We have to push ourselves to become the best version of ourselves.

If you do all of these things, I promise you’ll survive. You’ll make it. You’ll come out stronger than you’ve ever been. You, too, can say, ‘I fought like hell, and I won.’

I did.

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