Teen Memoriam Stories

Jessika Swihart

“If only she had stayed the night or called me for a ride.”

Jessika’s last few days were spent in a coma, in the ICU. I was with her nearly every moment possible.  I was afraid to leave; afraid she would die without me there. I spent our time alone talking to her and telling her how much I loved her, how my life would be so empty without her.

Jessika was almost 20 when she died. She texted me about 9 p.m. to tell me she was going to her best friend’s house for a few hours. I reminded her to stay the night if she was too tired to drive, or if she had any alcohol. I knew that she drank, but she had promised me that she would never drive after drinking.

We each said I love you. I asked her to text me when she got home and she said she would. That text conversation was the last conversation I ever had with her.

Around 6:00 the next morning, I got a call from a social worker at the hospital, saying Jess had been in a serious car accident several hours earlier and that she was in surgery. She didn’t have any ID on her and her purse and phone were left in the car, so the hospital wasn’t able to identify her right away. Finally, someone who worked in the ER recognized her colorful hair and piercings from previous visits for migraines. It took three hours before my name and number were found and I was notified.

The police met us at the hospital and said that Jessika had passed out while driving, crossed the road, and hit a telephone pole. Her blood alcohol was above the legal limit, and she had taken depression medication with the alcohol.

Jessika suffered severe brain trauma, a crushed pelvis, and multiple fractures in both her legs and feet. The swelling on her brain, in addition to the brain trauma, took her life 18 days later.

Jessika was my best friend. We talked every day to discuss work, the latest gossip, family, etc. We worked at the same place, so we knew a lot of the same people. She always stood up for the underdog. She was known among friends and family as someone who would always be there for a listening ear and comfort.

After 15 months, I still expect Jessika to walk in the front door. Or to catch her napping in my bed when I get home from work. And then in an instant, I remember that she’s gone.

If only she had stayed the night or called me for a ride. A call for a ride home was always more important than why the ride was needed. Our family is forever changed and my heart is broken.

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