4 years 2 mos without you…….
I promised myself, and Skylar, that I would never make “this” about how she died, but rather I would focus on how she lived. She was an amazing soul, a beautiful young woman, and someone that I was proud to call my daughter. At nearly 17 years old, I could already see the incredible woman that she was becoming. She lived like all of us should …. in the moment.
I never felt that I was ready to see “the truck” that Skylar took her last breath in, “the truck” that would become her final ride, “the truck” that ultimately took my baby from me. Something in me changed in the last few months and I knew that I needed that small piece of closure. Just a few moments with this enormous hunk of steel…..a few moments to scream and yell at a “truck” that couldn’t and didn’t keep her safe.
Several weeks ago I reached out to the responding officer and asked if I could finally have my time with “the truck”. Regretfully, I was told that it had been destroyed. I felt a pang of sadness, for some strange reason I knew that I needed to see it, even 4 years later. The passage of time does not resonate for a grieving mother (parent)….4 days – 4 years – 40 years; the pain is still there, the absence still exists, and the grief is still overwhelming.
2 days ago Skylar’s boyfriend contacted me and shared that he had learned that “the truck” had NOT been destroyed. You can only imagine my shock when I heard this news. The irony of it all did not escape me either. After some digging and several phone calls, I located “the truck”. It had been transferred to a holding facility, and because this was such a high profile case, the location of “the truck” had been kept relatively quiet. (I will mention, the responding officer had been given the wrong information and did not deliberately share misinformation with me.)
I knew that I needed to see “the truck” right away, and alone. I needed this time. When I called I was told that I would have to make it soon, as it would be destroyed this week. The gentleman agreed to meet me yesterday afternoon. I prayed the entire drive over and asked Sky to please be with me and to reveal to me what it was that I needed so badly from this. I also prayed for strength, the last thing I wanted to do was break down in front of these total strangers.
As I pulled into the lot I caught a glimpse of “the truck” between a crack in the boards of the wooden fence, and my heart immediately sank and my hands began to sweat. I tried to make small talk with the man, as if this were a normal occurrence. He led me behind a large fence and said “there it is”, as if I needed any direction.
I don’t know how long I stood there before I approached “the truck” but it felt like an eternity. I slowly walked around , peered inside and shook my head as I tried to wrap my mind around what I was seeing. I saw several pictures from the night of the accident, however, seeing it in person was powerful, impactful, horrifying, painful, and downright tragic. I stared at where Skylar last sat, where she spoke her last words, where she laughed her last laugh, where she typed her last text, where she took her last breaths, and where she undoubtedly felt her last fear.
I stood there and imagined what the 3 of them encountered, and I was angry that “the truck” could not save them. I am angry that I read stories every single day of deaths by car accident, and pissed off that nothing seems to change. The man waited for me in the distance and I found myself walking towards him. I noticed a younger man had joined him and they were both watching me. I shared with them how 3 had lived and how 3 had died, and that Sky was wearing her seat belt….and dammit that life is not fair! I told him that I wanted to place the stupid “truck” in my front yard for EVERYONE to see — because THIS could be your reality.
He shook his head and said “sadly we donate cars/trucks much like this one to high schools and nothing much seems to change”. He also told me that he was very familiar with the accident…of course he was, who isn’t in this town? I could tell that my sadness was making him uncomfortable and I knew that I wanted to leave and revert to the safety of my car, where I could cry in peace and scream in anger.
As I drove home, a comforting peace washed over me and I heard my baby’s voice say, “I’m good mom, I’m okay, please don’t cry. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
I knew right then that I needed to share this experience, because there is SOMEONE out there that it will help…save….encourage….strengthen….wake up …….
I will continue to share Sky’s story and to insure that her legacy lives on through me. I will strive to exemplify a God-fearing mother who knows that without my faith I would never survive the pain. And I promise to always pray for grieving mothers (parents) much like myself who struggle to find the will to go on.
Forever and always, I love you more Skylar.