The solar eclipse was the event of the century if you lived in North America. It was a time of renewal. Leaving the old and starting the new. Many people flocked to the numerous cities that were fortunate to be in the path of totality (a word I am sure 99% of us not once used prior to August 2017 rolling around). Some planned for months to get the best viewing spot (ahem, mom and dad..). Others… like myself, let it sneak up on them and found themselves up late looking for the stupid glasses and planning a route to where we wanted to watch it. I bounced back and forth on if I should bring my youngest 3 kids or leave them at school to participate in the activities there. I decided that since I wasn’t entirely sure what the mood of the crowd was going to be that I thought it best they went on to school and I bring only my 2 exchange students.
The drive home was uneventful. I was incredibly sleepy. Both girls were taking turns napping. Violette woke up and I told her I needed someone to be awake and talk to me. Around 1600 my kids’ father called me and about a minute into the call, I witnessed a sight that I am still processing days later. I saw the most horrific car accident happen in the lane of traffic that was going the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but scream. I hung the phone up and immediately pushed the “SOS” button on my Subaru Outback. I knew that it would send out my GPS location and even if the girls didn’t know what exactly to say, the people on the other end would know to contact the police and know our exact location.
I told the girls, probably several times, to stay in the car, do not get out. I knew it was going to be really bad and there was no reason for them to see all that. There was nothing they would be able to do anyway and there was no need to put them in that situation. I got out of my car and made sure I was not about to be run over as I ran across the highway.
Skipping ahead, since a lot of this I have explained in Facebook posts and I honestly don’t feel like revisiting it, I get to Stacey. I didn’t think she was alive. I tried to keep the man that was driving away from her as to not send him into more shock than he already was. I told him she was okay. I said he just needed to go sit down and I sent him away. I walked over to her and saw that she was in fact breathing. ****Disclaimer**** I am NOT a medical professional by any stretch of the imagination but I believe that even though she was breathing, I think she was far beyond any help. I desperately walked around screaming for a medic. I walked up to cars as they drove past screaming at them for a medic. I did this, I don’t know, maybe 3 minutes? Less than 5 I suppose. I then saw an older black gentleman who looked as though he may have been a veteran so I ran to him to see if he was a medic. Nope. Not him either. I ran back to her and she had several people around her. They were keeping her covered, putting water on her to cool her off, keeping their hands on her. I was not the only one who stayed with her.
Out of sheer… I guess, calling? Desperation? Tired of feeling like I couldn’t do anything, or acceptance of the inevitable, I started to pray for her. I asked that God take her and keep her comfortable. The older gentleman I spoke of, I believe he started reciting Psalms. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want…”. And then he was gone. It wasn’t just me and him loudly praying. Everyone who was there was praying, I guess so anyway. Honestly, I was so focused on holding her hand and not letting go, but I know I heard a chorus of prayers.
I never stopped talking to you, Stacey. “You’re doing good Stacey. Hang in there. I’m here Stacey.” I kept repeating over and over again, “You are not alone Stacey.” I called you “sweety” and “honey”, knowing that if someone said those to me in a time I was hurting it would be comforting. I don’t know, it just made sense to do it. I stayed with you until the paramedics came and I quickly moved so they could help you. As much as I hope my holding your hand and rubbing your arm helped. I would much rather think that you were long gone and that you were already being comforted elsewhere. We are the same age, you and I. I bet we would have totally been easy friends. It seems you had a lot of things you were working through. Me too sister, me too. I pray that God comforted you and took you away peacefully before I got to you.
I am struggling a little with the toll it took on me. There are images I will never forget. It reminded me of the parable of the good Samaritan. I never considered how stopping would affect me, only how NOT stopping could affect others. I guess that is what sacrifice is. That is why I enlisted. Service before self. It’s why I volunteer to run into disaster areas. It takes its toll, but I have received so many Facebook messages from people who had driven by and saw me holding her hand and caressing her and said that it restored their faith. Hearing that not only have the actions of me and the others who stayed by Stacey brought comfort to her family, but also the acts have stayed with strangers.
Stacey’s family is spread out across a few states. She had just moved to Tennessee to get her life straight. A friend of her family has started a Gofundme page. Please consider donating $10 or more.