A Piece of Our Heart
When I met my wife to be,
I knew she was the one for me!
I wasn't sure about having a child,
Not that I was irresponsible or wild!
The world just seemed to be a mess,
My future, my plans....only a guess.
We planned, we married, decided on two,
Maybe a third...if our plans fell through.
I pampered and coached, and watched the birth,
No greater moments have I felt on Earth!!!
Like a flower blooming they unfold,
From a mother's warmth to the outside cold.
Jessica then Sarah, we did have two,
Thirty months apart, but not a clue,
As to what these tiny ones could do!
They both grew and made us proud,
One kind of quiet, one really loud,
Both easy to pick out of a crowd!
Now we have one, the other we lost,
An accident they say, at what cost?
She left for school that morning, a drive so far,
The trip made easier in her red, sunroofed car!
A man in a truck stopped her journey that day,
A red light ignored.....the police did say.
Our daughter, our friend, no longer will talk....
Shop.....see a movie.....go for a walk!
We have pictures and memories, but it's not the same,
As seeing her smile........after saying her name.
A piece of our heart died that day,
No matter what is done or what folks say,
Our Jessica is gone...far, far away!!!
April 3, 2000 started like any other day in our daughter's busy schedule. Jessica got up, got ready, and grabbed a quick bite to eat. She was carrying a full
load as a nursing student with Georgia Perimeter College at the Clarkston Campus.
She also worked full time at McDonald's at Hamilton Mill Road with her dad. Jessica
was a swing manager and enjoyed her job and the people.
She left for school at about 7:40 AM. Betty and I left at about 7:55. About a
half mile from our home, taking the same route, we saw many blue lights at the
intersection of Highway 120 and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd. I could have avoided
the mess and got Betty to work on time by going through the shopping center. But,
something told me to go as close to the accident as possible. We got off the road
and drove through the parking areas to the bank's parking. Betty said it looked
like Jessica's car. I said no way. She left 20 minutes before us and the car was pointed in the wrong direction. I parked, got out, and stood up. I could see the
sun roof that Jessica loved so much. I walked toward the car. It was on the wrong
side of the road, nose to nose with a Suburban. The passenger door was opened.
I could see Jessica's green book bag on the passenger seat.
A policeman turned towards me. All I could say was "Where is Jessica? "
He asked who I was then told me to go to Gwinnett Medical right away. A fist
tightened on my heart. Betty and I drove the half mile to the hospital. Each second
I felt more and more uneasy. We got inside and were shown to a room to sit and
wait for word. A chaplin came, then a staff person. We were told that both Jessica's
lungs had collapsed, they were fixing that problem. Then they came in and told us
she needed to be life flighted to Atlanta Medical to repair a heart problem.
We got to see her twice. Jessica did not regain consciousness. We had
called Sarah and told her of the accident. We didn't want to believe it was serious.
We called her again to meet us at home. As we drove down I-85, we saw the
helicopter that was carrying our Jessica! This was about 11:15AM.
The specialist told us 85% of those in these kind of accidents never make it
that far. We were hopeful. Open heart surgery can only last 2 hours. After five, we
were still waiting! At 6:15 PM a nurse came out and told us it didn't look good.
At 6:40, the specialist came out and told us the heart surgery was successful,
but her lungs were so badly damaged, it was hard to get oxygen to her system.
She was in the OR til after seven, she had a strong heart! At 8:05pm, they came
and got us. We got to see her for five minutes! There were 4 people working
like bees in a hive, pumping saline solution and monitoring all the machines.
As we were walking back to our waiting room, Jessica passed away. She
hung on for one last visit!!! No more laughs or smiles to share. A daughter, sister
gone from this Earth to a much better place. But what about us?
This is when numbness sets in. A child is not supposed to leave before their
parents. No greater loss can a person feel than to watch their baby die and not be
able to do anything about it! As we were waiting to hear, I prayed that I could switch
places with Jessica. She is 23 and her life just beginning. Jessica was a month
from becoming a nurse, my career with AT&T was over. You feel singled out. Why
our Jessica? But God does not pick who will die, life ends at random.
All the energy we could gather was directed at getting Jessica in her final resting place. We have been in Georgia for eight years, Michigan transplants.
Jessica and Sarah were supposed to decide where Betty and I were to be buried,
at least twenty years away we thought. A lot can happen in those 20 years. Something we think about daily, half of our future is gone now, half of our chance
at grandchildren. Our lives changed forever by a man in a truck that took our baby
We decided that St. Hedwig Cemetery in Michigan would be best. My mom and dad, my baby brother, both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my
godmother are all buried there, a regular family reunion! We decided on four sites
on a hill, like Georgia, overlooking my parents not too far away.
We chose Wages and Sons in Lawrenceville because Betty had been to some Kroger related funerals and found them to be really nice. The deciding
factor for that particular location was the Lawrenceville library right next door. Our
Jessica loved to read! We thought we would have a service down here and then
one up in Michigan. We expected a small one here, but the funeral director called
and said he would put us in their larger area because of all the calls!
A parent is usually proud of their children. We are very proud of both of ours.
Their work ethic and consideration of others is really wonderful. As they got into the
labor pool, their supervisors often told us what great kids they are and how dependable they were in anything asked of them! We knew Jessica was well liked
and would do anything for anybody. That Wednesday, we found out how many hearts
she touched. Over 300 people showed up for the service! Nursing students came in
groups, each one had a good word to say about how Jessica related to them. Many told us of how Jessica went out of her way to give some of her time and help them. It
gave us new strength to get through that night and to prepare for the journey back to
The service down in Georgia was good for the heart! Sarah was strong and gave a tear filled eulogy to her sister. A student, Jennifer, spoke about how Jessica impacted her classes and gave a personal account of one of Jessica's clinical experiences. These both were both sad and at the same time a testament to Jessica. Then, the preacher asked if anybody else wanted to speak. A male voice answered. My heart and brain both went numb for a second. Was this the man that took my Jessica away from us??? But no, it was one who witnessed the accident, Edgar. He explained how he never met Jessica, but watching the gathering and listening to Sarah's and Jennifer's eulogies, he felt he knew her. He had touched her
hand and prayed for her at the scene of the accident. Jessica's car had hit his twice.
He had watched her final path in her beloved Sunfire!
We had pictures on Jessica's closed casket. One was the one at the top of this page, showing her ever present smile. After the ceremony, Edgar and his wife stayed to talk. Edgar took the picture and said "I know this girl!" His wife looked at
him and asked how? He said he bought something from her about five years earlier.
He said it was a crystal figurine. We told him Jessica had worked at the old Lilburn
Kroger in the video/perfume/crystal department. He remembered her smile!!!!
We had spoke to him on the phone the day Jessica had died. After the accident, Edgar had taken his son to the Kroger where Betty worked. He was
parking the car while his wife and son were at the service desk getting an application
for employment. Employees were talking about Betty, Jessica and the accident.
Edgar's wife overheard and mentioned her husband just as he walked in. They got
his number and gave it to us. We called about 1:30pm and left a message. Edgar
called back about 6:00 PM and told us what had happened.
Jessica had waited her turn at the intersection that was flashing red in all
directions because of the storm the night before. Six cars were waiting in the south
bound lane, a seventh was turning right. Jessica was turning left to head south also.
A man in an Expedition heading north did not stop, did not even touch his brakes.
He actually turned into her. Edgar had assured us that Jessica had done everything right. While waiting in the hospital, that was a God sent message that gave us some comfort!
Later we found out there were many more witnesses. Some said the man came out of his truck talking on a cell phone! Of course he wasn't hurt. Three vehicles
were totaled, Jessica's, the Expedition, and another lady that was hit by both Jessica
and the Expedition. Six cars were hit. A seventh turned West to avoid being struck.
We are waiting for the criminal trial to hear what the man has to say......was he on a
cell phone? Why didn't he stop? Why did he turn into her instead of away?
Nothing will bring back Jessica's smile. The world has lost a true friend! She
was always willing to help, especially when it involved little ones. She loved children!
She was the best babysitter!!! Mature, responsible, concerned, and of course a smile that won over every child she met. Her favorite is my sister's son Nicholas!
He lives in New York but Jessica never stopped talking about him. She had a picture
of him in every book that she had and seven in her wallet! She last saw him in January. The trip was my Christmas gift to the four of us. We had a great time!
The college had a wonderful ceremony for the presentation of the Nursing Pin.
Betty accepted for Jessica, Sarah and I were on stage also because a special award was created in Jessica's memory. So many students did not hear about the
funeral service in Georgia. They wanted to attend and since they missed the one day
we allowed, they took up a collection. They decided to honor Jessica by presenting an award every year to the student that best exemplifies Jessica. The criteria for the award was based on the eulogy that Sarah presented. A student is chosen and recognized at the pinning ceremony. An award and.money is presented. The student's name is then placed on the plaque, which hangs in the nursing office at the Clarkston Campus of Georgia Perimeter College..
During this year's ceremony, they had a slide show that showed the year in review. At the end, they put up Jessica's graduation picture. The 100 students cheered, then cried as songs were sang in her honor. It was a real tear jerker!!! December 2000