March 25, 2014

The traffic was particularly heavy on my drive to work that Tuesday morning and I wondered why. I got my answer when the news came on the radio. They had closed the highway because of an accident and were re-routing everyone. I was nearly late for work. When I arrived, I mentioned why I was late and a few of us sat around the table discussing the fact that a woman ran into a transport truck, as the news had reported. Since it had happened several hours before at 4:10 a.m. I figured the woman was either drunk or had fallen asleep at the wheel.

My morning was going as usual. I work in a high school as an Educational Assitant and was in my second period when my department head came in and asked me to step out of the gym class for a minute. This happens fairly frequently because he wants to discuss something confidential or we don’t want to distract the teacher. I was curious but not alarmed.

Instead of stopping just outside the door, he continued walking out of the gym area and down the hall. He was making idle chit chat with me as we walked toward the office. This is when I began to become a little uncomfortable. The principal was standing in front of his office and held his arm out for me to enter. No one wants to be called into the principal’s office! I wondered what I had done wrong.

When I opened the door, two police officers were there. Then I saw my husband, Greg sitting at the table and immediately I knew it was about Justine. Greg stood up and came toward me, hugging me.

“It’s Justine!” he sobbed.

“I know that! What, this time?” I thought.

He continued but I honestly don’t know the words he used. You’d think something like that would be imbedded in your mind forever. The police officers looked stunned and very uncomfortable. The rest is a blur.

Walking down the hall to get my coat and purse.

Telling a few coworkers along the way when they came up to me, seeing my devastation.

The secretary running up behind me to hug me and walk with me. She was also a mother who lost an adult child recently.

Telling my coworker who I worked most closely with. She looked horrified and hugged me tight.

Grabbing my belongings and making the trek back up the halls of a high school.

Greg wanted to go to his older brother and sister-in-law’s house. The police officers offered to drive but we wanted to go ourselves. We arrived at their place and blurted out why we were there. Greg called our families. Then we drove home. Our families began arriving with food and flowers. Neighbours and friends dropped over. Justine’s friends came. The house was full of people. It’s all very foggy.

We watched the news. We found that the accident that had made me late that morning was Justine’s. She had not been drunk, fallen asleep or driven into a transport truck as was first reported on the radio. She had been driving home from her night shift. She was going a little fast, not wearing her seatbelt, and a transport truck (likely) clipped her front tire when he was changing lanes. I say “likely” because the investigating officer isn’t even sure, but he thinks that’s what happened. Justine always wore her seatbelt but for some reason, not that time.

I’m sure I cried but I don’t remember. I was numb. I was a zombie. I do remember sitting on the couch after everyone left and posting on Facebook, just after midnight.

Then I went to bed and I cried myself to sleep.

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53 thoughts on “March 25, 2014

  1. Cathy, Your daughter is so beautiful. I hope you find solace in using your writing talent to keep her alive in your heart. I sometimes wish the world was like a Disney movie where birds would land on your shoulder and sing and no one would ever die or be sad, but alas, it is not to be. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  2. Keep writing. I enjoy reading your beautiful stories about Justine. They make me cry but make me more thankful for the life I have. I am thankful for having you n my life and in our family.

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  3. It is very difficult to imagine what it is like,as a parent, to experience such loss. But as a reader I was right there with you in those moments you describe. You wrote beautifully. I won’t be the only reader who had tears in their eyes, at the very least. I managed to hold mine back, perhaps only for knowing a little of your story already. I hope it helps bring some small comfort for you to know that Justine and her story have become known to and remembered by srangers all over the world.

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  4. Thanks for your openness writing about Justine’s death. I have long thought that to lose one of my sons was the worst thing that could happen to me. I couldn’t imagine how I would get through it. Yet you and Greg did – with help that morning from so many official sort of people and later being with family and friends. You are a wonderfully courageous woman. ❤

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  5. Oh Cathy, You wrote it well.
    The tears are still with me. I felt your long walk down that hall at the school. I know how big schools are.
    To have been commenting to coworkers about the accident and then to have found out it was Justine…oh my gosh.
    Oh honey…I feel your pain. Love Sarah

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  6. This day will never leave me …….I saw the accident on tv, told you what happened but never in a million years thought the lady was your BELOVED JUSTINE.
    As i saw the police and Greg I really had to wonder if they had the right family. The moment just slowed and slowed into… slow motion.Things will never be the same. Ever. Cathy Lynn Brooks
    We will always be the greatest co- workers and duo team to ride the halls of our school
    WE ARE FRIENDS
    emac
    xo.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cathy,
    Very powerful. Knowing your story from the day we met here on WordPress one might think that the story of the day heaven gained a beautiful angel would be easier to hear in a way. It is not. Your account is powerful and makes me feel the moment. My heart cries for you and Greg for having had to endure such pain. You are indeed a very strong woman.
    Sending you hugs and prayers through the tears,
    Lynne

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  8. After you followed me, I clicked on the first link in the email . . . And this was it. I know it was more than a year ago now, but I feel like I have to say something
    . . . She was so beautiful, Cathy! I’m sure she’s happy with Jesus now. Gdo bless you and your family — I hope to talk soon!

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