Today marks the 19th anniversary of my parent’s tragic passing. This blog is a letter I have written to a younger version of myself on that fateful day…
Jennifer Paige, it’s your junior year in college at Arizona State University. You bop around to Blink 182 and wear Abercrombie and Fitch. Life is made up of studying, friends, and having crushes on boys. The biggest decisions you face are whether to pursue an Economics degree or a Marketing degree. Life is totally carefree and vibrant - and then, May 21st happens.
Traffic alongside the 1-10 comes to a complete halt, helicopters touch down, and ambulances roar by. Random strangers are offering you bottles of water, and police officers are asking you to move away from the mangled SUV. You see your mother’s shoe, permeated in dust, tossed aside, and you realize that life is vaporizing before your eyes.
Moments earlier your family was listening to your sister’s favorite punk rock CD, making vacation plans, and driving back home to Phoenix. Your mother, from the passenger seat of your family’s SUV, asks “Where do you want to go….” her voice trails off and you don’t get to answer her. Your father’s SUV spins out of control and slams into the base of a concrete billboard, but not before your mother puts her arm out across your father, who is driving, and says “It’s going to be okay…”
Nothing about what comes next is okay. Your sister pokes you awake, you both hang upside down in the car, and she tells you to crawl out through the blown out car window. Shattered glass glitters the desert floor. The Arizona sun pounds down, casting a sinister glow over everything. Your mother’s supreme silence is juxtaposed to the howling sounds coming from your father. Paramedics use the jaws of life to saw your father’s trapped body out of the butchered SUV.
In the most warped stupor, you never would have envisioned navigating through life without parents, nor that your tight knit family could be torn apart, and yet around midnight, you and your sister officially become orphans.
You leave the hospital that night, physically unscathed and emotionally bruised. Mentally, the whiplash, leaves a permanent mark across your soul. Life’s fragility greets you at the door of your parent’s home - the base camp of your entire childhood. And during that darkest hour this is what I would have told you from my current vantage point:
You will be stretched, pushed, and at times it will feel like someone is stomping down on your heart. You will have incredible opportunities and insane adventures.
Ideas will become tangible objects and then they will become a business and a brand.
People will float in. And people will drift out.
You will encounter more loss as friends you ADORE will be tragically ripped away. And in mourning their abrupt loss, you will inherit new family and friends, ones who will turn into your soul tribe.
And throughout it all, the fire of life will continue to burn intensely BRIGHT.
Shiny objects will catch your eye, throw you off balance, and force you to choose between all that glimmers, and all that is grounded.
People’s advice will tumble across your path, and other humans will urge you, that they know best. You will have to train yourself to hear your own intuition, AND will have to find the courage to honor your soul, over pleasing other people.
There is so much more I want to say to the young girl that was my former self. But for now I leave you with this, it’s going to be a BEAUTIFUL-wild-journey, embrace it all, and let love and kindness be what you pollinate this world with.
Until next time. With all my soul,
This truly touched me! Amazing article!❤
Beautifully written & heart wrenching at the same time! I’m in awe of your willingness to share such a personal piece of you! You & your sister are amazing! 💞