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The Day Everything Changed

The Story

By Andrea DeLongPublished 2 years ago 16 min read

This is in memory of my mom, Katelynn (my sister), Diana, Bobby, and Lori.

This story 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.

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 underage I guess, and some/most of them had some or many types of drugs in their system.

The night of November 23rd, 2013, which was a Saturday, my family had gone 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 were 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.

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.

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 and everyone was having a great time. 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. Penny is on the phone crying saying “she's dead”. 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.

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 fixing to 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 a while of trying to get him up they finally did. I had been texting and calling my mom and sister. 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 never did not respond to me when she seen I messaged or called she would call back or text back right away. 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?”

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 do 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”

So he did and this is what he said, “Your mom, she is-” and he pauses for a second, “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 too sure how Katie is but dad well he has some broken bones.”

Me “Please tell me it's not another broken leg.”

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 tests are over with.”

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

“Okay, I will, love you girls.”

“Love you to grandma”

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.”


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. 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 is 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”)

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. 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.

Now almost four years later (2017) it is still hard and I don't like Thanksgiving to this day. But it is the end of this story. My story and my first story ever.

This is a true story, my story.

Here's something I would like to tell my dad if he ever gets to read this…

“Dad you are the man who raised me, you may be in prison but I still look up to you. You spent your life working, and I want to be able to do the same thing because I want to be able to have a family and be able to provide them with what they need when they need it, I also want to be able to have family night like we did in Chicago without having to worry about if we'll still have enough money for food and other bills. I never want to ever have to worry about if I'll ever need money. I hate when my family always says you never had money or you never worked because the man I knew took care of everyone else, who loaned people money even though you knew you were never going to see that money again. When you went to prison you lost everything but you never worry about that because you always say once you get out you're going to go right back to working again, but if by then I have a family and I have everything I need I will help you because you always helped me when I was little and I would just be returning the favor. In 2007 when I was 5 years old I told you what I wanted to be and I still have that dream and I will keep that dream, ever since the accident I have been more inspired than ever. Dad, I want to thank you for raising me the way you did those years you were able to.

Love your loving daughter forever and ever amen

~Andrea <3”

If my mom was still alive this is what I would say to her and I'm going to keep it short.

“Mom, all the time people say I have your attitude. I always say thank you because then I know I took your attitude. Every day I think about you and wonder what life would be like if you were still here. You were so beautiful and I miss and love you so much. I hope I am making you proud. See you again someday. You taught me soooo much in life and I wish I would have told you how much you meant to me before you were taken away from me. I hope you can help me with my homework through high school because I need your help with math I will always need your math smarts. I love and miss you so much, mom.

Love your loving daughter forever and ever amen

~Andrea <3”

Here is to Katie,

“Katie you were the best big sister ever, you taught me so much in life and I know you are looking over me today, all the time people tell me I look just like you which makes me smile because you were soooo beautiful I miss you so much sis, I love you so much. I hope you can help me make it through the high school I will see you again someday.

Love your loving sister forever and ever amen

~Andrea <3”

I did this to help others understand that just because you remember something like it was yesterday it's okay you can get through anything, and everything will be just fine continue to do what you do in life as long as you like it and want to. (Nothing bad or dangerous.)


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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