It’s hard for me to verbalize my feelings about death. I’ve never been good at facing the loss of losing someone I cared about. And unfortunately, I’ve lost a lot of people in my life – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many, many friends have died unnecessarily. I tend to put their deaths somewhere in the back of my mind, and just kind of pretend like they are off somewhere in a place where I can’t see or talk to them anymore, but they’re still living their lives happily — wherever they are.
Jenny is a different story. Her loss affects me significantly both in a positive and negative way. On May 15, 1996 at around 10PM, Kimberly Ann Jordan ran a stop sign drunk as a skunk and with two small children in the car with her. When she ran that stop sign, she plowed right into Jenny’s car as she and her boyfriend were heading east toward the beach in St. Augustine. Jenny had let Bobby drive, and Ms. Jordan plowed into the passenger side where Jenny was sitting, killing her instantly. I was living in Boca Raton at the time preparing for my (first) wedding that was coming up in 10 days. I remember my phone ringing off the hook in the wee hours of the morning on the 16th while I was sleeping, and thinking, “Who could possibly be calling me this late at night?” I ignored it the first few times it rang in the hopes of getting more sleep. But the caller was relentless, and when I answered it was my friend Laura who still lived in St. Augustine. “Jenny was killed tonight,” she said, “and Daisy’s in the hospital because she passed out when she heard and tore her face off.”
The last time I saw Jenny was when I went up to St. Augustine for my 22nd birthday. We headed up on a Friday, and Friday night I got mugged as I was walking in the pouring rain from George’s Tavern to Scarlett O’Hara’s. All I could think about was, “My I.D. is in my purse!!!” and I looked like I was 12, so my fiance and I took off after the guy. That’s a whole other story, but suffice it to say that I did not get my purse back so bar hopping was not in my birthday plans that weekend. I spent my Saturday night at the movies seeing Pulp Fiction, and Jenny and her boyfriend were sitting right behind me. I had been ‘estranged’ from that group of girls for almost a year and had moved away from the area, so it was good to see her again. We hugged and caught up on stuff, said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways. I guess I should thank that mugger, because I’m glad I got to see her smile one last time.
I remember the first day I met Jenny. She lived next door to me in the dorms with Melanie, Missy, Sharon, and Daisy. She was excited to be at Flagler, but sad at the same time because her family had just suffered through hurricane Andrew in Homestead. She still smiled through it, though. We all spent the day together at freshman orientation at Disney World with Melanie as our guide on “how we had to do it” since she was the Disney expert and we were her followers. I remember sitting at a party with her that first week too, with both of us gushing about how much we loved Jimmy Buffett. I remember “90210” and “Melrose” nights with her and ALL of the girls in the rotunda at Flagler and at our house on Cordova Street. I have so many memories that make me smile, but then make me sad because the reminder that she is NOT with us anymore is so strong.
Because I was getting married in SC, I did not get to go to her funeral in Miami. For ten years, I didn’t get the closure I needed because I never grieved for her. She was just off somewhere…doing something else…having the time of her life and as far as my heart knew, we had just lost touch. I got my closure in 2006 at the 10-year anniversary and fundraising event for her scholarship at Flagler College. Ten years of grief smacked me upside the head – HARD.
Selfishly for me, however, the best things have come from Jenny not being here anymore. Her death dissolved all the anger and hard feelings from the “estrangement” that was going on with that group of girls at the time, and it brought us an unbreakable bond and connection that will keep us together for the rest of our lives. I love these girls with all of my heart and cherish their friendship so dearly, that I would do anything for each and every one of them at any time. But unfortunately with that is the reminder that Jenny isn’t here physically with us anymore and on this day, the fourteenth anniversary of her death, I am still grieving.
I miss you, Jenny. May you not “rest” in peace, but instead I hope you are singing and dancing, laughing and running, and skipping and jumping…wherever you are.