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The Day Everything Changed

"The Book"

By Andrea DeLongPublished 2 years ago 21 min read
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This is in memory of my mom, Katelynn (my sister), Diana, Bobby, and Lori.

This book would not happen without the support of my sisters Rebecca, and Audrey, or without two of my English teachers who told me I could write a narrative essay on this and I knew then I could turn it into a story, I want to thank you for your help and support. After writing my story I knew that I could turn it into a book!

In 2013, right before Thanksgiving it was the weekend before to tell you the truth, my mom, sisters Katelynn and Audrey, my best-friend Hannah, my cousins Geraldine, Bobby, and Lori, my dad, and I all went to McLeansboro, Illinois, to have an early Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family. Everyone over age was drinking and some under age I guess, and some/most of them had some or many types of drugs in their system. As far as I know my dad did not have drugs in his system.

The night of November 23rd, 2013, which was a Saturday, my family had went down to my dad’s side of the family for an early Thanksgiving. I should probably start off by saying how many cars we took, how many people went down with us, and who rode in what vehicle. We took two vehicles my dad’s truck, and my mom’s trailblazer, there was 9 of us, 4 in the truck, and 5 in the trailblazer. In the truck was, my dad, my cousin Bobby, my best-friend Hannah, and I. In the Trailblazer was, my mom, cousins Lori, and Geraldine, and sisters Katelynn, and Audrey.

Now before I continue I want to say, Saturday morning, November 23rd, 2013, early in the morning my dad had pick my best friend and I up at the racetrack that he worked at because I had spent the night at Hannah’s house. Hannah was not going to go with us this weekend until last minute we had decided to ask my dad and her mom and dad, then my dad told us we had to ask my mom so we did. My mom had said that it was okay as long as it was okay with her parents. So she went with us, we just wanted to go down there and have a great time with my family, it had been a little while since we had spent the weekend down there as a family when it wasn’t a sad occasion. It was also around Thanksgiving so we wanted to have a great time with the family.

My dad and my cousin Bobby were drinking on the way down there and as well when we got there. I was handing my dad beers and my best-friend was handing my cousin beers. My cousin had drank all of his beers and then finished my dads as well. My dad had only had about 5 beers. I would know because I was the one handing them to him. Now my cousin had over 15 he somehow, someway managed it in just under 2 hours.

I was so used to seeing people drink a lot, that I never realized how much my cousin had actually drank until after the fact. Keep in mind at the time that this all had went down I was 11 years old just doing what I was asked. I never realized what I was doing was only impacting what was going to happen.

When we got to McLeansboro, IL., we had to stop at a package store to get more beer for them to have later that night for the party. When we got there everyone in the house was drinking if they were of age I guess you can say. That went on for several hours everyone was having a great time. My older sisters Katelynn and Lindsey, and cousin Diana were having fun giving each other piggyback rides and at one point my sister got on Diana's back and all three of them fell over, but they were just having fun. Let me just skip ahead to around 9:30-10 O’Clock at night when they all left the house in two different vehicles and when my older sister Lindsey wanted to come home Katelynn got out of her truck and got in my moms trailblazer, my cousins Penny and Peggy got out of the trailblazer and came home with Lindsey. Then my mom and the people in the trailblazer (my mom, dad, sister (Katelynn) Bobby, Lori, and Diana (my cousins)) went to the “Thrill Hills” to have some fun. The ¨Thrill hills¨ are seven hills in a row. The next thing I know is Lindsey is on the phone running out of the house I ask what is wrong and she told me an answer that was only half of the truth and what she told me did not have me totally freaking out but I was a little scared, I knew that anything my dad was put through he could get through it. And then this happened.. Penny is on the phone crying saying “she's dead” I asked who is dead but she wouldn't tell me who all she said was no one and walks away. No one wants to tell me anything at all I’m asking what’s wrong, what’s happening but yet no one will say anything to me and out of instinct I start to cry and I don't even know what has happened. But let me tell you who all went if I can remember, when they left the house at around 9:30-10 o’clock that night in the trailblazer was, My mom, my dad, my cousins, Diana, Lori, Bobby, Penny, and Peggy, in my sister Lindsey’s truck was, my sister Lindsey, my other sister Katelynn, my sister Lindsey's boyfriend Dylan and my cousins Rob, and Danny Boy if there was more I was not told about them. Before they all left the house they told me this,

“We will be back in a little bit gonna go take Penny and Katie to Lens see you guys later”, My parents said.

My response to them was “Okay, see you guys then”

But later never came I waited and waited for them to come home and they never did. I never got to hear my moms voice again, I didn’t even hug her just said see you then.

Now remember they are all drunk and I was only 11 at the time. So there was nothing at all I could do but after I found out I kept questioning myself like “What if I would have done this or that” and I kept blaming myself even though I knew there was absolutely nothing I could ever do because who would listen to an 11 year old who never told you to never drink and drive but this one time it's almost Thanksgiving and she gets this really bad feeling about it but doesn't say anything because she knows her parents are safe drivers and won't hurt anyone. But what if that feeling that I was having was because it wasn't my dad driving or my mom and it was my sister or someone else. I can't ever say it wasn’t my mom because honestly my mom hardly ever drove when she was drunk with me in the car but who knows it could have been her or it could have been my older sister Katelynn. And I can tell you it was one of them because if it was my dad the seat would not have been all the way up to the steering wheel. Yes, you can say that with the force of the accident or whatever but why else would they throw out the driver's seat saying it couldn't be used as evidence. Anyways enough with that topic that has nothing to do with this well it does but it's for many days after the accident. So let's get back on track here. Let's see I think I might have said this already but November 23rd, 2013 at around 11:30-12:00 o’clock at night my older sister was running out the house and I asked “What is wrong?” Lindsey then said to me “Dad has been in an accident.”

So at the time I really wasn't freaking out because I knew my dad was a strong man and could make it through anything. Little did I know that my mom, my sister, and my three cousins were all in the same car as my dad and that the car had been rolled. So then about 10 or 15 minutes later my cousin Penny came in the living room where Audrey, my best-friend Hannah and I were sitting about to lay down and go to sleep and she comes in there on the phone talking to someone crying saying “She's dead…”

So out of instinct I start to cry and I asked “Who died…”

Her response was “No-one”

Then a bunch of people tried to wake up my other cousin (Diana’s brother) he had his door locked so they couldn't get in and then they went outside and started to bang on his window, finally after awhile of trying to get him up they finally did. I had been texting and calling my mom and sister I did not get a response from them so I knew something was definitely wrong. Anyways let's skip ahead a couple of hours. It's now the next morning and I continued to text and call my mom and sister trying to get ahold of them. Never got a response so I knew then something was really wrong and then I started to freak out, my mom had always responded to me when she seen that I had tried to get ahold of her, she most definitely would have responded if she would have seen how many times I had messaged and called her. Then finally my sister came down and I had asked what's wrong like why isn't everyone home yet. She was like we’ll talk to you later and all this other stuff. So then they called my brother and he said that he wanted to tell us so this is what they had said to us,

“Your brother will be here later he has bad news to tell you.”

My response was “Okay?”

So we just waited and waited for my brother to get there.

Skipping ahead again, it is now 10:30 am Sunday, November 24th, 2013, My brother just got to the house. He says,

“Girls come sit on my lap.” So we did, and my best friend sits on his girlfriend's lap and he says,

“Girls as you know I am here to tell you very bad news…”

We say “Yes, we know but are we still going to church?”

He says “No, it's too bad.”

“Okay so just tell us the news then”

He hesitated and he thought how he was going to break the news to his little sisters that their mom had passed away the night before.

So he did and this is what he said, “Your mom, she is-” and he pauses for a second as if thinking to see if he wants to continue to tell us, “she is dead, and so is Bobby, Lori and Diana they died last night.”

We then asked “What about dad and Katie?”

“They are in the hospital I'm not to sure how Katie is but dad well he has some broken bones.”

Me “Please tell me it's not another broken leg, I don't want to have to take care of his leg again.”

We all laughed

“No I'm afraid it's worse.- He has 8 cracked ribs his chest plate is cracked and his stomach and organs are in his lungs...”( I can't remember the rest of his injuries at the time.)

Now that I know my sister is in the hospital I text my grandma,

“How’s Katie? Is she going to be okay?” then she calls because she didn't know how to text at the time.

“She's having test ran. We are hoping she'll be okay.”

“Okay keep me updated. When are you coming to get us?”

“We’ll be there soon. Just gotta wait till after these test are over with.”

“Okay I'll let you go then. Call me if anything changes.”

“Okay I will, love you girls.”

“Love you too grandma”

There were several times that I had texted her in between the 2 hours.

Now let's skip ahead about 2 hours.

My grandma arrives to get us we have everything packed and ready to go. Then she says,

“Girls I have bad news I need you to come sit down for a minute we need to talk.”

“Okay.”

And at this point I had known that my sister was gone.

“Katie didn't make it. The doctors said she was brain dead and that she was basically like a vegetable and there was nothing left for them to do to save her. If she would have survived she would have had to learn everything all over again.”

“How much more bad new are we going to get today. I can't keep getting bad news today, first my mom now my sister anyone else I should know about?”

“Your brother told you about your mom and cousins correct? And that your dad is in the hospital?”

“Yes, is that everyone?”

“Yes, that is.”

So then we got in the car and left to go home…

For several days and weeks I cried and cried I still cry over it to this day…

A Week after the accident we had my sister's funeral and wake that weekend (Friday and Saturday). (Others also had my cousins funerals that weekend so I couldn't go to them). Then my mom's was Sunday. Still till this day I picture my mom lying lifelessly in her coffin and my sister too… I went back to school that Tuesday, everyday I came home wishing my mom was sitting there waiting for me. Oddly still to this day I wish it was just a nightmare or a game that they are playing.

Anyways I'm going to take you to a flashback I always have and try to make it seem like you can see it yourself. Its August 19th, 2014 around 10am I believe now I could be wrong about the times and I’m sorry about that, today is my dad's court date, we get down to Mcleansboro too early to go to the courthouse so we go to dairy queen. We ate and spent some time there before we had to go over to the courthouse. It's about 11:30 and we go over to the courthouse and I know I have to testify so I’m scared and nervous I don’t really know what I am suppose to be doing. So when we get there Justin Hood the state's attorney going against my dad asks my grandma, my sister, my uncle and I to go into his office (I believe there was a couple more people but I can't exactly remember who.) Anyways Justin Hood then started telling me this is what I'm going to ask you and other stuff anyways the point is, that's against the law because I was subpoenaed by my dad’s lawyer not him and I was 11 at the time so I didn’t realize it was against the law. So then it was time for them all to leave and go into the courtroom and determine how long my dad got, Justin Hood set up a movie and let Audrey and I watch it while they were all testifying, about an hour maybe an hour and a half later Justin Hood says it’s time for me to testify so I’m scared because what if I mess up and say the wrong thing and I get my dad sentenced longer, all these “what ifs” were running through my mind. Next thing I know I'm walking down the middle of the courtroom and to the center, and I'm being sworn in. Then I go sit in the box next to the judge and I look over at my dad as the question continue to come through and I continue to answer them, and then my dad's attorney gets up and asks me questions as well but she stood right in my view of my dad and that kinda upset me, now I had been crying this whole time and through all the questions here are only a few,

“What's your name”, “Can you spell that”, (I messed it up when I was spelling my name), “How old are you”, “Who all was in the truck with you on your way down there”, “What do you know your cousin by”, “How many beers did your dad have on the way down there”, “So your dad tells me that you also go by Annie correct”, “He also said you guys went out to a fair and had a lot of fun together”, (The answer was “Yes, and we took chickens and my rooster won first place”, and everyone starts to laugh) “Do you need your dad in your life”, “Why do you need him in your life”, (and I had messed up here when I answered and I wish I could go back to this day and change that answer I said “because he's my dad and he's my only parent left alive”) These are questions that you will never forget, sitting in front of your whole family and your dad testifying for your dad is also something that you will never forget.

Somewhere in all of this the judge had told the security guard next to me to get me some water and tissues even though there was tissues right next to me, I did not even drink the water, and I used the tissues and by the time I was done testifying I had the tissues in all balled up. After I was done testifying I had to leave the courtroom once again. And a couple hours later (1-2 hours later) they come out and say well he's been sentenced to 20 years and has to spend 75% which is 18 years and I immediately thought oh my gosh it's all my fault I messed up again. My aunt then asked me if I wanted to see my dad before they took him away and I said yes I want to give him one last hug and kiss before he leaves for a long time. And the guards weren't going to let us say goodbye to him. But we got a few minutes with him and told him bye and we loved him and that we would stay strong for him. August 19th, 2017 will be three years since I told the man that took care of me all my life bye till I was able to see him again. He always told me if I set my mind to something it will happen and thanks to him I have been able to stay strong.

At my dads sentencing like I had said before they had thrown the drivers seat out as evidence hmmm… to me that's a little sketchy, to me that seems like you are locking an innocent man in prison for something that he never did. How fair is that? That's not fair whatsoever.

Everytime I talk to my dad, he might not know that I hear the sadness in his voice and the pain that he is going through but I do. Just like at my mom's funeral when he said to me “I wish I could switch spots with her you guys need her more then you need me”... But what he does not know is that really hurt me, it hurt me so much more than it should have, he does not know how much I need him, I grew up spending a lot more time with him then I did my mom.

My dad is my hero, he helped me through so much when I was little, my dad is my idle, I look up to my dad, will I drink no but that's what idles are for to teach you what are right and what are wrong. No matter how old I get my dad will always be my idle and my hero and I hope to one day make him proud!

December 13th, 2017 I got to see my dad for the first time in over 3 years. It's a day I’ll never forget, this whole experience is something I will never be able to forget.

“Dear Dad,

You are my hero, you are my idle, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t know how to ride horses. If it wasn’t for you I don't think I would want to be a firefighter. I don’t think I would love animals like I do. I don't think I would be as strong as I am. Dad you might not realize how much you really taught me in life. I hope this helps you realize that you have taught me a lot in life and that I am very lucky to have you as a father. I love you dad! I hope you know that! I miss you dad!

Love your loving daughter forever and ever Amen

~Andrea <3”

“Dear mom,

I have already written you a whole story just for you. I told you how I felt about this world I told you so much. I already told you this and you already know this but you taught me so much in this world but there's one thing you never taught me and that was how to live every single day without you, without your beautiful smile, your laugh and just you… It is so hard living on without you. All I think about is what if things were different what if things ended different what if you wouldn’t have left the house. But you did and now your gone… and now I live with the pain every single day.

Love your loving daughter forever and ever Amen

~Andrea <3”

“Dear Katie,

You were the best big sister anyone could ever ask for. You were there for me when I needed you. You were there in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep (only because I didn't want to wake mom and dad up) you were there when I needed someone to talk to, when I had no one else to go to. You were always there for me when I needed you most. Yeah we had our up and downs but that never changed how much we loved each other! No matter what went on between us we still loved each other and yes while you are gone I still love you and nobody not even death could change that.

Love your loving sister forever and always

~Andrea <3”

No matter what life throws your way prove to everyone that you can keep fighting, and you can make it! Never give up

Now almost four and a half years later (2018) it is still hard and I don't like Thanksgiving to this day. I don’t like Christmas because my mom is not there to pass out presents like she would every year in the past.. But now I have guardian angels watching over me every single day of my life, and I am blessed to have known them while I got the chance to know them!

But it is the end of this short book. I know it wasn't the best and I know it wasn't that long but I just wanted to add some stuff to it that I thought would be interesting or to help make more sense!

I hope this book helped you out, and realize that you can talk about your pain and teach others that things might be hard when it happens while yes the pain never heals and it never gets better but you will soon learn how to live with the pain! Some pains are just not meant to heal! But always remember that you are strong enough to make it through something like this so keep fighting things will get better! Yes, I know it might seem hard to get through something this hard but you learn that you have no choice but to learn how to live through the pain! You have to learn how to live around the pain no matter how hard it really is!

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About the Creator

Andrea DeLong

I started writing these stories in 2015. I wish to help people know they are not alone and share my story.

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