Friday, December 11, 2015

The Day My Life Changed Forever

Today -- today is December 11th. Seven years ago today, my life drastically changed. This is not something I can easily put into words and although it still feels like a dream, it's an unfortunate reality. And the reality is that I have a story to share. Seven years ago today, I lost one of my best friends and my family's and Lindsay's family's lives took a turn down a very dark path.

It was a cold, rainy December day. I was in 9th grade. I had gotten involved in an awesome ministry called Young Life and every Thursday after school, our leader who went to JMU and volunteered her time, would come to Waynesboro to hang out with a group of teens. I was one of those girls. We always went to Kline's to get ice cream but because it was raining and there's only outdoor seating there, we went to Hardee's instead. 

A lot of this story is fuzzy and a lot of it is crystal clear. But what I very clearly remember is that one of my great friends Lindsay had been paired with me for an English project earlier that week. We had planned to get together at my house after our Young Life hangout to work on the project. Lindsay had dance that day and she was an incredible dancer who spent a lot of time at the studio (they were rehearsing for the Nutcracker) so I knew we had limited time. We were both too young to drive on our own so my mom knew to pick us up at a certain time. When she didn't arrive to Hardee's when she said she would, I called her to make sure she was coming. She answered and said she was on her way. I don't remember if I called her a second time but she pulled into the parking lot a little late and I was a bit frustrated.

This is where the story starts to get fuzzy but I remember my mom's car facing the building. I remember walking out the door ahead of Lindsay and I was about to open the car door when the unthinkable happened and my mom's foot slipped off the brake of the car and Lindsay was hit. 

The minutes that passed by after that felt like years. I remember my mom jumped out of the car, screaming, trying to run out in front of a car to commit suicide. I remember not being able to do anything but hold her as tight as I could. I remember not being able to help my friend. I remember hearing faint sirens as the world around me felt like it was ending. I remember thinking it was all a dream and that it would just go away when I opened my eyes.

I don't remember much after besides my Young Life leader praying in the car with me and my mom, being questioned by the police, and then being taken to the hospital only to find out in the parking lot that Lindsay didn't make it. In that moment, I have never felt so much pain. I doubt I ever will feel that type of pain again and I hope I never do. The next few weeks didn't even feel like reality. My mom did not get out of bed for weeks. I didn't eat for days. And no one quite knew how to deal with anything. My family mourned for Lindsay's family so greatly but the pain we were experiencing didn't allow us to grieve with everyone else. We had to grieve the pain of my mom taking the life of someone, not just grieve someone's life being taken. 

My entire body is shaking writing this because for seven years I have held back from sharing my story. I have never even tried to write what happened because I knew the emotions of so many people were involved and I didn't think I could accurately share without hurting someone. But something interesting happened last night. I took out my journal and I wrote out a prayer. I wrote, "I must trust God's beautiful, messy, imperfect plan for my life. I want God to reveal my unique purpose."

And after that, for absolutely no reason at all, I felt called to start writing this story. I've felt for so long that I was meant to share this but I was afraid. I was afraid the local media would say something, afraid people would be hurt, afraid I would say the wrong things... And I'm still afraid. But at the same time, I'm not because I know this timing is from God. 

The most beautiful part about this whole story is that I was doing what Young Life calls the "30-Day Challenge" with Lindsay before she passed. I believe we were on day 10 the day she died and we had been going through the book of John. I remember so vividly that day, sitting on the floor outside our English classroom during Advisory, talking about John 10. If you haven't read John 10, I encourage you to. One thing Lindsay and I spoke a lot about that day were verses 27-28. It says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." I remember us talking about never being plucked from God's hand once we commit our lives to him. If there was any verse applicable to that day, it was verse 28. 

I have no doubt that Lindsay is with the Lord right now and there's nothing that gives me more peace than that.

We absolutely live in a tragic, sinful world full of pain and suffering and I wish I could say things are completely better. But unfortunately my mom suffers from PTSD and her depression and anxiety are real and alive. But I serve a loving God and I don't believe he inflicts pain. What I do believe is that he uses pain to mold us and grow us and I can say that through this trial, I have learned to surrender and to trust God with every ounce of my being. I am His. 

I didn't think for one minute that today I would be sharing this but I think it was supposed to happen so I pray that through me sharing my story, someone would surrender to Jesus. Guys, life is HARD and some people just experience more pain than others. But I pray that you would allow trials to bring you closer to the Lord rather than separate you. God wants us when we're weak because we are forced to let go. He wants you as you are -- every imperfection and mistake. He wants to be a part of your life in big ways and he wants to use you and show you your purpose.

As I end this post, I cannot even begin to express my family's gratitude towards Lindsay's parents and the love they have shown my family. I cry every time I think about it but Kelly and Jim, you are two of the most precious souls I have ever met. Thank you for your grace, love, and kindness.

Thanks for reading.


  1. my heart is breaking as i read this... i can't imagine what you went (and are still going) through. i'm so sorry you had to go through this, Meredith. my heart breaks for you, your mom, Lindsay's family & everyone affected by this tragedy. when things like this happen, it is so, SO hard to understand why a loving and merciful God would allow things like this to happen. it's so hard to believe that He has a beautiful, unimaginable ending to a tragedy so sharp; so painful. but i know He does, even when we can't see it. He sees the ending we can't see; He sees the beauty and hope in tragedy and loss; He gives us hope and comfort when we can't go on by ourselves. it doesn't take away the pain of the moment, or the memories or the grief, but it does give us hope that someday, we'll understand it all. someday, we'll see the bigger picture, and realize that His plan is perfect.

    thank you for sharing this. thank you for being brave with your heart. thank you for being vulnerable and honest. i can't imagine what it must have taken for you to write this out -- i was shaking just reading it. i'm praying for you, lady, and your mom. we serve an awesome, loving Father, and we can cling to the hope that someday, we will understand. and someday, you'll see Lindsay again. <3 <3

  2. Meredith,

    I only met and spoke with Lindsey a few times as I was the Nutcracker that year. She was such an important, kind, and beautiful friend to all the dancers. Going through the loss and heartache that they suffered was a profound and invaluable experience for me. Although I did not know Lindsey, I felt that I got to know her through everyone that she knew. I heard stories of support and kindness and often found myself in tears and at a loss of what to do.

    I can only imagine the pain and loss your mother and family experience. I know that there is not a mean spirit or thought in anyone in your family and have always enjoyed the company of your brothers. Y'all have always been in my thoughts since and I hope that someday you are able to find some sort of peace. Kelly and Jim are absolutely the kindest people on the planet and seemed to be supporting everyone in a time when they should have been the weakest.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I feel lucky to have met Lindsey and to be of whatever support I could for her friends in such a trying time. I feel even though she is gone, her kindness and love lives on through you and everyone that she touched, and in that way, she will never leave us. I know we don't really know each other, but if you need anything at all, please let me know. Lindsey's love and life shines through you, and I know it will support you throughout your life. Please send my love to your family and the Hysons!

  3. I love you and your family, Meredith. Thank you for sharing your story. I have always admired your strength through everything with this event, though I'm sure there were times you did not feel so strong. I love the piece of your story about John 10 and how you have held on to it in your heart for all of these years. Whenever I have thought about this tragic time, I have prayed for you, aunt Amy, and Lindsay's parents. I can not even begin fathom what hell on earth you all have been through. Please, keep being brilliant and amazing. You're such an incredible young lady <3.

  4. I still remember when you shared this story at the retreat and my heart breaks for you again now as I read it with more detail. <3 I am so so sorry you have had to go through this, but I thank you for being strong enough to share it. I know it can't be an easy story to share but you are so brave. Through some of my toughest times I have prayed God can use my stories to help others and I believe He can do that with you too, is doing that even now. He is taking you places, for sure. :) I love you, girl!! <3

  5. Crying. I had no idea... so proud of you for sharing!