Reflection: Gone too soon

“Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, May looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.” – Unknown

I feel very fortunate that in my short 32 years on earth that I have yet to truly face deep tragedy in my life.  But, like my parents have reminded me in the past, when you get older that can change in a heartbeat.  The innocence you had a child where you felt invincible to pain, other than a silly broken heart, turns into so much more when life continues as an adult.  I have watched my parents lose parents and my friends lose parents.  Both of those experiences were difficult to comprehend, some were natural and some were way too soon.  As a senior in college at OSU, I will forever remember the night of the plane crash that killed ten men from the basketball team.  That was the first event in my life where I felt a true sense of tragedy and sadly knew it would not be the last.

Recently, God continues to shed light in my life on how is precious each day.  How we are never guaranteed tomorrow.  How we get caught up in the planning of an event and forget to stop and cherish the moments with people we love.  How we can put off calling a friend we have not talked to in months, maybe years.  How we have put off resolving conflict with people we love the most. How we let things like work consume us with such stress that we forget why God provides those opportunities. Yet, we have to forgive ourselves because we are human.

On Christmas Eve, a friend of mine from high school and college, Jenny Goodpasture Stiegler and her husband Chris, were tragically killed in a car accident in Texas.  Their daughter, Emily, who is less than a year old survived the crash.  Another couple in a different vehicle also died.  Jenny was 32 years old.  Her husband 35.  Jenny is my first friend in my life that has passed away.  And my heart hurts so deeply for their families and especially their little girl Emily or “Emmie” as she called to her.  Jenny was beautiful.  One of those gals who never knew how pretty she was, how guys in high school adored her and friends loved to spend time with her.  She had a wonderful smile.  She was on the Pom squad in high school while I cheered so our groups spent a lot of time together.  When I went to OSU, she was a Pi Phi and I knew that if people like Jenny were Pi Phis that I would love it there too.  I spent another three years sharing that experience as well.

It was not more than two weeks ago, that I was messaging with her on Facebook.  I was telling her how darling her girl was and she was telling me how great is was about the triplets.  Just last week, I was going to email her to tell her we chose Emily as well for one of the girls names.  We debated with Emma and then Emily came to me.  Irony has a weird way of playing out in these situations.  Well, I never got around to telling her about the name.  But, I hope somewhere she knows that her precious girl influenced my decision.  And I truly hope that her girl knows how sweet her mother was when she grows up.

My dad’s father was killed in a car accident when he was just five years old.  The implications of parents having to leave children behind will never be quite known, but I know that it has probably made a big impact on his life. My grandmother raised three boys the best she could with the absence of a male figure for her boys, which boys should never have to go through and girls should never have to endure the loss of a mother.

The moments you are not supposed to ask “Why” you can’t help but do so in your heart.  Even if you don’t say them out loud, God still hears your cry.  Another ironic moment was that just that day on Christmas Eve (day), we passed a cemetery in town and I said to Bryan, “Not to sound morbid, but we really should talk about each others wishes in the event something happened to one of us or God forbid both us after the girls are born.”  Bryan said, “Nice thought on Christmas Eve honey, but you are right.”  We have only been married a year and half, so its not exactly at the top of the list is to plan your death when you are starting a life.  But, it is those moments that we are reminded that death is a part of life.  It may come sooner, it may come later and either way your loved ones you leave behind are not prepared to deal with it.

I also have a friend, Erika Stedje, whom I am extremely blessed to have shared this triplet experience with over the past six months. She was a Pi Phi also at OSU and in a pledge class younger than me.  When I heard she was having triplets, not even knowing her very well, we latched onto writing each other weekly and sharing our excitement and fears.  Erika is an unbelievable strong young woman.  She lost a baby several years ago after a premature delivery and just recently her triplets were born way too early as well.  Unfortunately, one of those babies, another boy, did not survive.  She is still fighting each day with her baby boy (Sloan) and baby girl (Lane).  How she handles the hurt, the fear, the surges of breakdown, I have no idea.  God is powerful and I truly believe that he saves and provides when we need it the most.

Sorry for the long post.  It has been several weeks of reflection in the making.  Tragedy is something that can stop us in our tracks when we least expect it.  It is what we chose to do with those moments that can be the most meaningful.

Take time to tell people you love that you do indeed love them.  Don’t leave doubt on your heart in the event you don’t get the chance.  Put off those errands, working late, or other selfish tendencies we are all guilty of sometimes and look at the gifts God shows you daily. They are the most valuable gifts you will be given.

And for you baby Coy girls, you are loved more than you can know and you are not even here yet!

God Bless my loved ones!


6 thoughts on “Reflection: Gone too soon”

  1. We don’t understand why God takes the ones we love but knowing they are in peace and out of pain we are grateful however the empty place in our hearts will always be there. This is so beautifuly written, I appreciat you sharing it.

    1. Very well written Steph. I miss her dearly and it is so unfortunate that this happend to such a beautiful person. I know God has a plan and I try to keep telling myself that everyday but the pain is still so horrific. I pray for her mohter and father, her sister and baby Emmie everyday. I know they are suffering right now. I went through all of my photos and memories and came across several from Jenny. I miss her and love her. R.I.P Jenny.

  2. So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and her husband. It is very difficult to understand – I’m not sure we’re meant to understand. You expressed such love and respect for her through your writing and hopefully someone will share words such as yours with their sweet baby Emily someday.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss! It is such a tragic story. I was so stunned when I heard about it and my heart just breaks for that sweet little girl! I know it’s none of my business, but I think about it every single day so I must ask… What will happen to the little Emily? Are Jenny’s parents going to raise her?

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