I went through yesterday knowing very well today would hit hard. I spent time at work talking to people about anything other than the weekend, purposefully avoiding the topic and changing the subject (yeah, it was awkward and uncomfortable at points). When I came home from work for a few hours, instead of isolating myself in my room, I kept myself busy finally hanging up curtains that I’ve had for a week and I spent time cleaning up the house. The distractions kept coming and I was grateful for them. I went swimming with two extremely silly kids and on the way back to their house, one pointed out all of the street signs on the freeway while the other mentioned the rainbow empowering the sky.
So there went my distraction. I still managed to keep myself together though! I made it through a brief conversation with their foster mom, got to my car and instantly turned the radio on hoping for something cheery, loud, or upbeat to bring the distractions back. Naturally that wouldn’t last long because as soon as I turned onto the freeway that rainbow was still there. Why does a rainbow matter? Where do you look when you think of heaven? Up. You look up from the pothole filled streets and see this beautiful combination of colors made from light reflections. I went on a small road trip deeper into Washington paying attention to the sky and watching it set over the river and having that rainbow fade away.
So I cried thinking of the very moment I found out 732 days ago. Two years ago I was at PCC Rock Creek sitting in building 7 waiting for Josh to show up with my lab manual that he accidentally grabbed instead of his own. I was there early and pulled out my phone, seeing missed calls and new voice mails. I put my phone on silent from my class beforehand and so I never heard it go off. When I unlocked my phone the last thing I left open was Facebook, and sure enough that’s when I saw.
Braden wrote a status about his condolences and the amount of shock he was in and me being the person I am didn’t believe it. All of the messages were from friends in my hometown breaking the news to me and I lost it. I could feel bad for the poor people who were in the hallway I was in when I broke down, but I don’t. That’s the most shock that I’ve ever experienced. I remember seeing Josh walk down the hallway (biology lab partner for three terms) and when he saw me he started running toward me. Immediately we went outside, I didn’t say anything just handed my phone to him with one of those awful voice mails playing. I didn’t feel the hug he gave me and I don’t remember the exact words he said trying to comfort me.
I skipped that lab and the rest of my classes that day actually. When I got to the Cornelius Pass and Skyline intersection the road had been reopened. The fastest way home was down the pass and I would have to drive past the crash site to get there. I remember seeing Brandon walking back to his car that was parked at the store. I knew exactly where that drop off was that she went down. I can still see the dirt that got pulled up from when they towed the car back up in my head. I told myself that I wasn’t going to look at anything but the pavement for the remaining eight minute drive.
I knew exactly where that drop off was that she went down. I can still see the dirt that got pulled up from when they towed the car back up in my head.
I got home and went straight to my bedroom in the basement. I screamed, cried and it sent my dad running down the stairs. The only word I could use to describe my reaction is crumbling. They had a vigil at Branches in Scappoose that night and I remember finding Liz and just holding her for a really long time while we cried together. We listened to stories from other people, had Chance pray for us and eventually around two in the morning I found myself in bed as a total wreck.
That day hits me hard when I am reminded of the amount of life Kerrigan Clark gave to my small town. She wasn’t just someone I went to school with or shared friends with, she was one of the best listeners and could give the best affirmations on the worst days. She had this super dorky smile that she would make during our awkward eye contact in choir while singing some song we both weren’t incredibly fond of. She put on Natasha’s headset one time when I was venting about nothing important and had me laughing and calm again in a matter of minutes. There’s just so much about her that I hold close and growing up in a small town really only makes a deeper connection.
I used to hear songs like “See You Again” and I couldn’t listen to them without getting upset or mad. Not mad because I didn’t want to hear what the song was saying, no condolence would bring her back. I got mad because I was going to have to wait to see her again. I was going to have to think of our old memories instead of creating new ones. I was going to have to watch old choir videos in order to hear her sing again. It all drove me up a wall and I hated the world for it. I hated that she was gone and I hated that our last time talking together was only for a brief moment. There’s something about getting someone who helped lead you to God taken away that really just ruins life for you.
I got mad because I was going to have to wait to see her again. I was going to have to think of our old memories instead of creating new ones. I was going to have to watch old choir videos in order to hear her sing again.
I am grateful for the days when small things bring thoughts of Kerrigan to my mind. I’m thankful for the sticker on the back window of my car that reminds me of her love for coffee and how her eyes would instantly brighten as she drank a cup of it in the morning. I’m thankful for her mom for making herself available to talk to when people are having a hard time, or for posting happy memories on Facebook when it’s so easy to post the deep stuff. I’m also incredibly grateful for those hard posts that really just hit you with how loved this girl is by people all over the place.
It’s been 732 days, I miss you.