Monday, August 27, 2007

Today was the Day

For those of you that had read my previous post regarding my friend's mother whom I had been trying to get into contact with, here is an update.....

Annie (Elizabeth's mother) and I, have been emailing each other daily since my last blog and she stated that she was going away for 10 weeks on September 3rd, so I knew that I had to meet with her ASAP. She wanted to see what it would feel like to see me and was unsure how it was going to go. She wanted me to bring photos of when I was 7 years old, so I could jog her memory a bit.

The moments leading up to our meeting today were extremely nerve-wracking. I couldn't help but wonder if she was going to back-out of it all together. A part of me couldn't blame her for doing so. I mean, how weird is it to meet the friend of your daughter who had passed on 20 years ago? It was strange, and at times I almost felt like backing-out as well. I didn't.

We met at a quaint little place in Scottsdale for lunch, and I recognized her right away. She had a huge smile on her face when she saw me, and exclaimed "Yes, I definitely remember you. I took you and Elizabeth to the circus. Do you remember that?" I hadn't, but I definitely assured her that it sounded familiar.

We talked for hours over lunch about or lives, our goals are for the future, and all the events leading up to us meeting today. I finally had the opportunity to tell her how much Elizabeth meant to me and that not a SINGLE day ever went by when I didn't think of her. We had moments of laughter and moments of tears, but each of those moments meant the world to me.

She told me that she is currently single and raising an 18 year son she adopted soon after my friend had died. She stated that her son is on drugs and in and out of rehab constantly. She didn't seem too bothered by his troublesome ways as she was telling me all of this. She stated, "There is hope for my son. There is no hope for the daughters that I lost, but there is definitely hope and a chance that I can save my son." I couldn't help but stare deeply into Annie's eyes as she told me about her life and her son. She looked like she has carried the weight of the world on her shoulders her entire life. She's is such an amazing woman and I admire her strength.

She gave me a copy of her book, and signed it "For Michelle, who was a great friend to Elizabeth and keeps her memory alive. Fondly, Annie"

This experience is something that I will NEVER forget. I plan to keep her in my life from here on out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

As One Door Closes

For those of you that know me, you know that I do a ton of research on the internet as far as locating people that I haven't spoken to in years. Yesterday, I found out that I am very close to getting in touch with someone that I have been trying to find for almost 20 years. You heard it right, 20 years! It's crazy to even type that number considering that I am only 27 myself.

Here's the story…..

On August 16, 1987, I lost a very dear friend of mine in a horrific plane crash that had affected the entire nation. This was NW Flight 255 out of Romulus, MI that barely made it off the runway before it crashed on the freeway and killed all 154 passengers and crew, including 2 people on the ground. The miraculous part of this story was that there was 1 survivor. Now the story would be great if I could end it there and tell you that my friend was the lone survivor, but that's not the case.

At 7 years old, I can still recall all the details of that night as my mom sat down with me at the kitchen table explaining to me that my friend Elizabeth Geiger was on that flight with her sister and father. I remember watching the news show the tragic pictures of the flames as they rose from the crash, as well as the yellow body-bags scattered all over the freeway. At the end of the newscast they scrolled through all the names of the victims in the crash and I remember holding my breath HOPING that my friend and her family weren't on the flight—they were. And I cried for what felt like an eternity in my mother's arms.

Throughout the next 20 years of my life I always had a special place in my heart for Elizabeth. Not sure why, or how someone who lived such a short life had such an impact on me. But she did, and I have NEVER been able to get her off my mind.

Two years ago I was having these recurring dreams about her and the crash, and I felt like it was some sort of a sign that I needed to look up more information on the accident. In April of 2005 I started looking up Flight information and came across a memorial sight. You can find it at www.flight255memorial.com if you are curious. I scoped out the guestbook and came across a woman who claimed that she lost her entire "Geiger" family to this accident. She writes on this site whenever the anniversary comes up. She also lives in Arizona. I remembered that Elizabeth's mother was the only one that never went on that flight that night and I was hoping that by some miracle this woman in the guestbook may know her or at least have some connection to the family. So I emailed her.

The woman claimed that there were two families on that flight with the same last name—sheer coincidence. And she, unfortunately, was not the Geiger I was looking for. She stated in her letter to me, "We moms who lose children never get over it, and to have someone remember them, make us feel very good."

I knew that I couldn't give up. Her words were too strong and kept humming in my head as I continued to furiously look for Elizabeth's mother, but I never found her. I didn't even have a name to go off of…I just couldn't remember. And sadly, I sort of gave up.
Last night I visited the website www.azcentral.com—I NEVER visit that site. I was bored, so I started looking at some of the news stories. I came across a story titled "Flight 255: Tragedy Lingers." I clicked on it, and it didn't dawn on me until I read the story that it was the flight that my friend was on, and yesterday marked the 20th anniversary.

I was once again acquainted with the horrific scenes and pictures of the crash just as if they happened yesterday. They even had video footage of the newscast on that very evening—just as I remembered it. I went back to that memorial website, and again I sifted through the messages to see if maybe Elizabeth's mother left any message on there—she didn't. So I decided to leave my own message on there with my email included just on the off chance that maybe, MAYBE someone from Elizabeth's family will contact me.
My wish came true!
A family member contacted me and informed me of the whereabouts of Elizabeth's mother. I was also informed that her mother also wrote a book about losing her entire family entitled "As One Door Closes." It brought tears to my eyes because now I can finally tell Elizabeth's mother that Elizabeth had a friend all along and that someone was ALWAYS thinking of her.
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