I Still Can't Believe They Are Gone

Colleen Carrigan

It was January 16,1998 at 10:00pm and I was on my way to bed when the phone in my hand rang. "Hello"... it was my sister on the other line, sounding very upset...."Colleen..." my next words were "what's wrong?" Before she could answer, I thought to myself, my father has had a heart attack. The words that came out of her mouth were a complete shock to me, never in my worst nightmare could I have imagined what she was about to tell me... "Mom and Dad were killed in an accident tonight.." "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God"... I started screaming...I couldn't stop saying "Oh my God" I sunk to the floor and started screaming. My hands and arms went numb up to my shoulders from hyperventilating. My stomach turned and I felt as though I would be sick. "Oh my God". The panic started after that... I needed to make phone calls, family members needed to know. There were so many questions and so few answers. I wanted to know every detail. Are the police sure it was them? How did this happen? Why did this happen? My entire world began spinning.

I was alone that night when the call came, 1000 miles away from my entire family. I had been living in Atlanta for only 3 months when they died. I didn't have anyone to call to come over to help me and comfort me. I don't think that I ever felt more alone than at that moment. I called a dear friend from home and sobbed with her. It was at that point that it occurred to me that neither of my parents would be there when I got married. My father would not walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. My parents would never hold my children. They wouldn't be there. The more that I thought about it, the sicker I got.

Judith and Thomas Carrigan, both 55, were crossing a street in Avon, Connecticut when they were struck and killed by a pick-up truck. From all accounts it seems as though they never saw the truck and the driver of the truck never saw them. They were both killed instantly and as far as I know, neither of them suffered. My parents hated being apart from each other. There is consolation in knowing that neither had to live without the other. I still do wonder though... did my mother scream? I hear her screaming over and over in my dreams.

I flew home the morning after the accident. I felt numb. I couldn't do anything but cry. My head hurt from crying so much. The following days were a blur. I kept expecting my parents to just walk in to their house while we were there. It didn't seem real. I remember seeing their bodies in their caskets... standing at the doorway and trying to decide who to go to first. I remember going back and forth between the caskets trying to accept what had happened and just breaking down. It just wasn't fair.

Over a year has passed since then and it is still almost impossible to believe that they are gone. I remember when my sister started throwing away my parents' things and thinking about how mad they would be when they returned. Of course, they never did. There isn't a day that goes by that they don't consume so many of my thoughts. I miss them dearly. There are so many things that I never got the chance to say. I was just at the point where I was starting to see them as people and not just parents. I felt sorry for them. I felt sorry for myself. I felt sorry for my children who would never meet them. They missed out on so much.

I would really like to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar experience.


Colleen Carrigan

You can send email to Colleen at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date 1-16-98
date of post 6-1-99

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW