|My favorite picture of Avery, stolen from |
Bridget's Facebook, is so beautiful.
It's been 365 days since our God Girl went home.
It feels like yesterday when I got the text message. It was a Thursday, I was sitting in my 11am class. There was a presenter giving a lecture to the 140 students that I taught each Thursday. All the text said was, "I just sent you a terrible email." It was from one of my GymHawks moms. I didn't know what to make of it, so I checked my email on my phone. The email contained a link to a newspaper article and the statement, "word is, they were coming home from gymnastics." Confused, I clicked on the link to the article, and immediately, my world started spinning.
11 year old---Dies----Car Accident------Delavan Girl--------Hwy 89
Those words flashed through my brain like a strobe light. AVERY. I knew it. Immediately, my heart stopped beating. At least it may as well have. I left my class mid presentation. I couldn't breathe. I walked to the next building over on campus, I think it took me 6 seconds to scale two flights of stairs and a 600 foot corridor. I walked in to our registration office and (not very nicely) demanded that they bring up all Delavan residents enrolled in gymnastics on their computer. There were three names on the list... only one fit the profile described in the article... Avery.
|Her "gymnast of the month"picture|
from the GymHawks Newsletter in
The rest of the day was a blur. There was a luncheon for athletics, (which happened to be today as well), and I remember sitting there, completely numb. I don't remember who was there, I don't remember what was said, I just remember staring in to space. I couldn't eat, I still couldn't breathe and I sure as hell couldn't focus on anything but seeing those blue eyes again.
We had calls in to the Whitewater police, the county police and teachers in the Delavan school district. No one could tell me the words I knew were coming, but dreaded to hear.
Finally, a friend at the Delavan High School texted me back, and listed the names of the girls she had heard were in the car. There it was in plain text on my phone... "Avery McCarthy."
|I praise God, that my friend snapped|
this picture of us together at camp
in 2012. She was one of the hardest
working gymnasts I've ever coached.
The first thing I remember is arriving at the Wilderness resort. I got out of my car and walked into the hotel. I walked around the water park, the arcade, and the bar. I seriously considered getting a drink, but thought it might ease the tears I had so forcefully been holding back.
I settled for coffee. I sat with my cup in the lobby of the hotel, and I remember hating all of the happy families that were walking by. With their goofy floaties, pool toys and long tickets from the arcade games, their happy faces just seemed so wrong. Didn't they know that my heart was breaking, didn't they know about this perfect little family whose world just crumbled? Apparently they didn't... and it frustrated me incessantly that they were able to hold their children tight, while Bridget would never hold her baby girl again.
It wasn't fair.
And then, she called me. That sweet, ridiculously sarcastic, and all around wonderful human being, called me. Me. I felt (in that moment, and still to this day) so unworthy that she would call me to tell me that on the way home from gymnastics last night, Avery and Jadrian were in an accident, and "Avery didn't make it"- didn't make it... those words will be forever burned into my ears. Not, Avery "didn't make it" to school on time, or Avery "didn't make it" to the concert she wanted to go to. No... Avery just "didn't make it."
I remember bits and pieces of that conversation, and I remember I didn't cry. I remember thinking, Dear Lord, please watch over this wonderful Mama going through the most unimaginable pain. And then I remember hanging up with her. I immediately rose from my chair in the hotel lobby and made my way for the door. It was probably only 25-30 feet from where I stood, and yet I could NOT get out of there fast enough. I hit the cold, October air and it was like an ocean of tears washed over me. As I ran to my car I couldn't fathom what was happening. My brain ceased to function and all I could do was sit in the car and drown in the tears that refused to stop falling.
|Avery has inspired many of my GymHawks to reach out to|
the community. Here they are with Bridget at a fundraiser
raising money for Averyday Ministries.
|That little ribbon means|
the world to me. It hasn't
missed a meet.
There is not a day that goes by where I don't think of Avery, or her mom, or her BEAUTIFUL big sister Jadrian. They have welcomed me into their life, and I pray that they know how much that it means to me. They will forever be in my heart, and this day... no matter how many years go by... will always be with me.
|Carrying our God Girl with me & |
every day she helps me grow in my faith.
"I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my
help come from? My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of Heaven and Earth."
Thank you, God Girl, for your continued guidance and never ending comfort. I know you are with us each and Avery day... ;) I promise, we are doing our best to live in your example.