I had a hard time picking a photo for this post, so I went with a beautiful sunset. This post is going to be different from my other posts. It has nothing to do with me being a medium. It is a sad true story that taught me about tragic loss and then years later, I was guided to a time and place where I would receive unexpected answers. The answers that haunted me for years to a wound in my heart that would always be there. As we all learn in life, there are two sides to every story, event, or tragic instant that changes everyone involved. Sometimes both sides are tragic and hard to hear, but in the end, hopefully a peaceful view of clarity.
Elementary School – 1970’s. I can’t pin point the first time I met JW. I know we were the same age and same grade, and she lived in the same housing track as I did. We lived in Fountain Valley, CA. We became friends when our little brothers played little league baseball. We spent hours together at the fields, either playing or working in the snack shack. I still have a picture of JW on the bleachers looking down at me while I took the picture. Her red hair and freckles, OP shorts, T-shirt, tennis shoes, and a leg dangling over the bench.
When we were in junior high, we were cheerleaders together. That’s when we really bonded. She would have coed parties, or swim days at her house all of the time. Her home was our hang out. The first time I kissed a boy was at her house, while playing spin the bottle. JW always had a house full of friends, and you felt lucky to be one.
When JW and I started high school, we were together a lot. My mom and I would pick her up and drive her to school or we would go together to any school function. Then as we both started different activities and then we started driving, we started to hang in different circles. We would still see each other at parties, or dances, and I would see her driving around town, and her car was always filled with friends. She was just a good human being. Always willing to give you a ride or help you out. Sweet and kind.
During our junior year of high school, I found out that my family was going to move to Dana Point, CA. I would not be completing high school with all of my friends that I grew up with. I would still get to see everyone and drive back for parties or to hang out.
JW called me and asked if I wanted to take my SAT’s with her at Long Beach State. And that’s what we did and we promised each other that we would keep in touch even when we went away to college. For graduation, I went to my x-high school and watched my friends graduate. I, of course, had my own graduation at Dana Hills. JW and I both were accepted to colleges and promised to keep in touch.
Well, college was one big party for me. I was a gate student (not sure what its called now, accelerated classes??) with a 4.5 grade point average, and the moment I moved into my dorm and was away from home, I went wild. JW was enjoying the college life too, but she joined a sorority and kept focused. I did not join a sorority. I grew up in a dance company and years of cheerleading, so I was over the all girl clubs. Instead, I became a Fraternity Little Sister.
I knew I was not going to go back to that college after the winter break, so I got a job in Newport Beach for a developer and enrolled in junior college. Packed up my stuff, moved back home, and went to work.
The week before Christmas (1988), JW called to tell me she was going to be home for the holidays and she wanted to get together. So we planned to meet for lunch on Wednesday, December 28th. That lunch would never happen nor would anything with JW ever again.
My dear friend JW was killed in a car accident on the morning of Sunday, December 25, 1988. The only reason I am going to give any details, is because it all will become clear as I tell the entire story.
The quick version is that JW and a friend, (another girl from school), were driving JW’s car to a Christmas celebration and a police car going 84 miles per hour flew through an intersection in Westminster, killing both JW and her friend. You can Google the news articles if you want more information.
When I got the phone call about JW, it wasn’t until the evening of the 25th. I had been at my aunt and uncle’s in Long Beach all day celebrating Christmas, and back then, we did not have cell phones. I can still remember being half asleep when my bedroom phone rang. As the voice on the line was telling me about what happened to JW, I was wishing and praying that I was having a bad dream. I was in complete shock and disbelief. I vaguely remember hanging up the phone before I jumped out of bed and ran to my parent’s room. I about scared them to death yelling and crying. While trying to console me, my father suggested that we should turn on the news. And to my dismay and heart ache, I wasn’t having a bad dream.
The days following were terrible. This was a tragedy that affected so many. The news channels were constantly showing the story over and over. All I could think about was JW’s family. How devastated they must be and needing answers. Why did this senseless tragedy happen? What kept me up at night was not only the loss, but I prayed that the girls did not suffer.
The service was scheduled and was in Newport Beach. I met up with a life long friend of mine, CW. We went to the service together. The service was pure chaos. We couldn’t even get into the church. The media was everywhere. CM and I had to stand out front for the entire service. It was a like a bad dream, standing in a crowd, trying to hear the service, and everyone crying all around me. Of course, I was not holding it together either.
After the service and as the weeks went by, the media talked less and less about the accident. I did dream about JW. I had the same dream for years. In the dream, a group of my friends and I, including JW, were sitting at the large lunch tables in the middle of the quad at our high school. Everyone is laughing and talking like we used to do, but I was so mad that everyone was having such a good time. I would get up and start screaming at them all, “Why are you so happy? JW is going to die!!” I keep yelling this, but no one hears me or even looks at me.
So now fast forward to December 31, 1994. I am married, have two little boys, and my husband (now X-husband) and I are at a New Years party at our good friends we met through my husbands work. We lived in Corona at the time and our friends home was in Rancho Santa Margarita. I knew some of their other couple friends, but there were a few that I had never met. We played games, ate, drank, and laughed a lot. Then the clock struck midnight, we all yelled Happy New Year and kissed our spouses or significant others. We gathered in a circle and toasted the new year. Then for some reason the host says she wants us all to say what our worst year was and why.
I thought what a dumb game. The men excused themselves, except for one. We all sat at the kitchen table and one by one each woman talked about their worst year and why. There were miscarriages, a family members death, cancer, etc. Then it was my turn. I said, “Christmas 1988, my friend was killed in a car accident because a police officer flew through an intersection at 84 miles per hour on his way to a call.”
All of a sudden the woman across from me started screaming, then she jumped up and ran to the bathroom. Her boyfriend put his hand up at me and then ran after her. I sat there in total shock, not sure what was happening. Everyone was staring at me. What did I say??? I don’t know this lady. I think everyone was in shock. We could hear her screaming and crying in the bathroom.
Then I start crying and ran to the back yard to get my husband. I am so upset that I can’t even explain to him why I am crying. Also, I don’t know what to tell him, I had no idea what just happened. So, he and I went out front so I could try to calm down and talk to him alone.
While we were out front, the man that was with the lady that I upset, came out front to talk to me. I apologized and said I didn’t understand what was happening. He told me not to be sorry and when “Lori”, calms down she will come out and explain everything to me, but she wants to talk to me alone. So I asked him what I did to make her so upset? He just said it would be better for me to hear it from her and then he wanted to talk to me after because it has to do with him too. WHAT THE HECK??? I didn’t know this couple…what was this????
Then Lori came out. She looked like hell, and she was still gasping from being hysterical. At first all she could manage to get out was how sorry she was. She said this multiple times. I gave her a hug and said it can’t be that bad.
This is were I almost fainted. Everything went into slow motion and my stomach was fluttering like I was on a roller coaster.
Lori’s exact words to me were; “The policeman was on his way to my house when he killed your friends.” It took me a minute to take that in, I don’t think I had ever given a lot of thought about where he was going, only that JW and her friend died senselessly.
I calmly asked her to explain herself. This is where the other side of the story became a tragic part of the puzzle. Not death tragic, but horrific tragic.
Lori told me that she was in a very abusive relationship at that time. The night before the accident, (Christmas Eve), her boyfriend was unhappy about something and he started in on her. He proceeded to beat and rape her all night long, then in the morning he threw her out front, naked and beaten nearly to death.
The neighbors called the police and that is where the policeman was headed. Lori kept crying and apologizing to me. I told her it was not her fault. Then she said that I really needed to talk to her boyfriend that was with her at the party. What else could he say? I was trying to take in the new information she had just shared with me.
I will call Lori’s boyfriend, “Steve”. Steve came out and hugged me and he said that our small world was about to get smaller. Steve explained that he was a fireman and that he was the first fireman on the scene after JW’s accident. I just started crying … how is all this happening or even possible???? He let me cry and take in all the information the two of them had just told me.
First thing I asked Steve was if the girls suffered. That had been haunting me for years. Steve then put his hands on both of my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I promise you, they never knew what hit them.” I just let out a loud wail and cried more.
Then I asked them both how they knew each other. Steve and Lori grew up together and recently they reconnected and fell in love. Steve had found out not to long after the accident that the policeman was on his way to Lori’s home.
Lori then asked me if she could ask me questions about JW. So the two of us sat out front, held hands, and talked about JW. We laughed, we cried, we both had some closure. Lori will never not feel guilty, she has to live with the events of that Christmas morning forever.
I never saw Lori again. Life went on. I still have dreams of JW. I wish all the time that she would come to me in spirit. Who knows, she might someday. It will be the 30th anniversary of JW and her friends death this December 25, 2018. I know that this post is going to make it obvious to some people who I am. I would appreciate it if you would send me a private message. I am sure you have questions about what I wrote, and maybe have more insight. I would love to find JW’s family. No one knows about my encounter with Lori, except for a few of my close friends and a few family members. I still have not been to JW’s grave site. It has been 30 years, but I can’t make myself go there. This post is my way of honoring her and how wonderful she was, and how she has been missed.
Love you my dear friend……
I went to school with you! Since elementary. I know this was horribly hard for you. I’m always here if you need me.
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