By: Stacey Purcell
The day is hot.
Hot, like sweat running down in your underwear hot.
My daughter and I have just come from Pleasant Hall where she made her choices for the next round of sorority rush. We’re late to our next appointment and traffic is crawling through the campus. She’s stressed, I’m comic relief. Our day has been filled with nail biting, second guessing, laughter and lots of icy Diet Coke. Will she be invited back for the next round? Will she get her top three choices? At this point we just have to wait until morning.
Anyway, I digress because I don’t really want to go down the road I’m about to travel with you.
The phone rang. I answered thinking it was my son asking yet another question about a summer assignment he left to the last moment. It wasn’t. My brother’s voice came through the speaker. I knew something wasn’t right. He told me he had some bad news. He did.
It seems yesterday at 5 pm. a young woman lost her life on the road right outside my subdivision back home. I knew that girl, have known her for 15 years. Allie was in her mid twenties with all three of her children in the back seat. All three still in car seats. Allie lost her life as did her baby girl. The other two will survive. That sounds so clinical. I don’t mean it to sound that way.
Memories of Allie bounce across my thoughts, ricocheting like bullets. Nothing is linear, nothing is a solid train of thought. Images of my niece and her best friend (Allie) babysitting my daughter appear. Allie getting married, catching the girls smoking on the back porch, teaching them how to change diapers, Allie appearing at my front door when she “ran away” from home- so many thoughts, so many years.
The whole time I knew her, she struggled with life. Allie railed against her dysfunctional family. She never felt accepted and loved for who she was as a person. Was it a reality? I don’t know, but it was her perception so it was her reality. I remember having some late night conversations about how she wanted a baby. She wanted that tiny being to take care of because then she would be loved unconditionally. I argued that she was too young, too inexperienced, …too everything. Being Allie, she made her own way and proved us all wrong.
She found a fellow, not the best choice, but she got the baby she longed for. This would have stopped most girls from making a better life for themselves. Not Allie, once again she proved us wrong by enrolling in school. She’d take two steps forward and life beat her back. It was almost a rhythm for her. I lost contact with Allie at this point, but that’s not the end of our story.
The next years were full for her. She met her husband, married and had two more beautiful children. I kept up with “Allie news” through my niece and knew she seemed to finally find a smoother road to follow. That was about the time my life was in crisis.
My mother was extremely ill and had to be moved to Houston to a long term care facility. I was lost. My dad and I followed the ambulance that transported my mom the two hundred miles so she could be close to my house. They were about twenty minutes ahead of us and just as I pulled off the highway, the hospital called to tell me my mother was crashing and asked if they had the right to invoke the directive to let her go.
By the time I arrived, I didn’t know what I’d find. Those glass doors swished open and who was waiting for me? Allie. She was studying to be a nurse and recognized my mom’s name when they wheeled her in. She helped my family over the next few days while my mom was there. She visited with my dad and generally was there to do whatever she could.
Allie is gone now. Gone with her youngest baby. My heart is breaking at the thought that this young mother won’t be there for her other two children. She did finish her studies, did have babies that loved her unconditionally and went farther than a lot of people ever thought she would. She was a fighter and I’m honored to have been a part of her life.