Kelly House

Danielle Haggerty

What happen when you can’t say good bye?

It’s 10:45pm, Friday 23rd February 2001. It’s been a long day, 8 hours earlier you arrived home, 3 days after the birth of your 2nd daughter. You climb into bed and immediately fall into a deep sleep. Your life is perfect, your family complete.

There is a knock at the door, at first you think you are dreaming, but when the knocking continues you realise you’re not. Looking at the clock you see that it is 12:13am. You climb out of bed only to have a knock at your bedroom window. As you approach the door, anger builds and you wonder why this couldn’t wait until morning. Unlocking the door you come face to face with your parents, who had only left two hours earlier.

stace and friends

“There’s been an accident" Mum says, you start to slowly back away from the door not wanting to hear the details. Immediately your brother’s face appears in your mind, he’s got the licence and a very powerful car. As you back further towards the wall Dad blurts out two dreaded words that will remain with you forever – “Stacey’s dead!"

Stace is a strong girl and tried to stay with us, with the help of paramedics she fought for 50 minutes but her tired heart gave out and she died at the scene. She had extensive injuries and during the first few months and even now we longed to have her back. I guess in time we will have to understand, life in her body, the way she would have been, would have been unbearable for her. But in saying this it does not ease the pain or the yearning to have her return to us.

The day before Stacey’s funeral my Mother and I did one last thing we could do for my sister, Stace was a girl so proud in her appearance, makeup on, hair done. For the viewing we dressed Stace and as she would say “put her face on." I don’t know where my physical or mental strength came from that day, but I did it.

It was one of the hardest yet proudest moments of my life. I will look back on that day and know I did one last thing for my sister I thought I could never do.

Shock sets in and you start to shake and say “No!" Tears don’t fall, just an uncontrollable shake. You walk away numb and sit on your bed, your mind completely blank. How can you believe this! You try to comprehend and comfort all at the same time, but what can you say? What can you do? The answer is NOTHING, not a thing! From this point on, your life will never be the same again.

On Friday 23rd February 2001 my sister Stacey was killed. She was a beautiful 17-year-old girl, with her life and dreams ahead of her. Stace was a passenger in a car that careered off an unlit, unmade road into a tree. The combination of inexperience, lack of concentration, road conditions, misjudgement and distraction has left my sister short of life and my family devastated.

If only life were a video recorder, you could rewind, playback and tape over – but life is not. Once a decision has been made there is no turning back – it’s final!

You will never see their smiling face, never touch them, share a joke with them, catch a movie or hear their voice. All you have is memories and to be honest memories are over rated. I would travel to the end of the earth to have my sister back. Not only to have her back for myself but to stop my parents constant agony of not having Stacey – their daughter, their baby by their side.

Would you like to be the one responsible for taking that away from them. Destroying their lives forever? I would not and neither would you – Death is the end!

The impact this has had on my family is indescribable. I can’t recall exactly how my parents coped the numbness that takes over your body stops you from feeling anything. It’s the numbness that stops you from going completely crazy.

Have you ever seen someone cry so much they can hardly stand up? My mum wandered around in a zombie like state not yet believing what had happened. My dad barely able to lift his head up exhausted from constantly vomiting. My brother I hardly saw because he had cried himself to sleep. All I can recall is trying to explain to my 2-year-old daughter where her Aunty had gone?

Because of someone else’s mistake and lack of responsibility my 2-year-old daughter had to try and understand death. I still don’t understand it to this day………

What happens when someone dies so suddenly? Mentally and physically you fall apart. Your body shuts down. You don’t eat, you don’t sleep, and you try not to think. Take a look at the person sitting next to you and imagine if tomorrow when you came to school they were not there. Imagine going to the cemetery and telling them all the things you forgot to tell them.

The reality of all this I hope is hard for you to comprehend – unless you have experienced the heartbreak of loosing your brother or sister. But in saying this does not make it impossible for it to happen. Never say “It will never happen to me" – I did. It can happen to anyone and my nightmare can become a chilling reality for you all. If sharing my heartbreak means that you stop and think for a second about what effects your actions may have on you or someone else, then my sadness today brings me some happiness.

Live for today but make plans for tomorrow – and see them through.

drive 4 life