Tina Johnson

Painful Memories
by Nancy Johnson

A knock on the door so early in the morning, then that gut-wrenching phrase from a stranger:

“There’s been an accident”

Then the big question, “is she alright?” And then the answer ” no, she’s dead.”


I went into shock. As I went through all the necessary motions my mind kept telling me, NO “this isn’t real…. This can’t be happening.” Viewing the demolished cars still at the scene, unzipping the body bag which reveals a cold, lifeless child who just hours earlier was a loving energetic, vivacious 18-year-old, the funeral, the emptiness, the tears…. Memories, all so clear! It could have happened yesterday but it didn’t. The death of our daughter happened a couple years ago! I still get choked up, then the tears come, and the emptiness prevails. I hurt!

As I recall the happenings of those early morning hours, I KNOW that in only one split second, my family was devastated, never to be whole again one family member torn away by an act of stupidity, one that could have been avoided! How many mothers today will hear these words?

“There’s been an accident!

It is very frightening when you realize how vulnerable we really are. Death can come quickly and without warning. As we drive the roadways we are rarely concerned about our safety except in bad weather. Normally we don’t contemplate that an on-coming car could suddenly cross over the centerline! As I approach this hill, could there be a drunk driver in my lane on the other side? Am I safe at a stop sign, or will I be rear-ended? Is it safe to go ahead on a green light or will someone under the influence think their red light is green and hit my vehicle broadside. Everyday at any time of the day or night these incidences do occur. A large percentage of these reckless drivers are impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs.

On that Monday night Tina was driving home with no concern for her safety. Why should she? It was a clear, summer night, and she was driving on a familiar road, in the proper lane. She did not know that a car was speeding towards her coming up the other side of the hill with a driver in impaired condition, driving at high speed and not having control of his car. After going onto the right shoulder of the highway, he over-corrected at the crest of the hill, and slammed into Tina’s car. Reportedly the speed of his vehicle was 90 mph. The driver of the car behind Tina repeatedly said that she didn’t have a chance, it came too quickly.” Today while I drive on that road I often think, Tina was driving as I am now. She died on this road. It is so scary to KNOW these things do really happen.

Every day I live with the fear of another phone call, a knock on the door and being told, “there’s been an accident.” Oh God, I couldn’t make it through that again. My friends think I am back to normal now because I laugh and joke and do familiar things again. However most don’t know the emptiness, the pain and the loss I feel. Every day there are reminders of what happened and then the thoughts of what life would be if Tina were with us today. Tina’s sister, Tammy, is married now and has a child. What is missed is the loving, caring and sharing it all with Tina …

Today when I observe people riding their horses along the side of the road I have only the memory when Tina and I would go horseback riding together. I always thought that one day Tina and her own children would enjoy this same activity together. A broken dream!

Instead all I have is her garden on the farm where she is buried.


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