It was a chilly, but beautifully sunny, March day. It was Palm Sunday. Early in the morning my then 14 year old daughter, Jillian, came out in the kitchen. She and her 16 year old sister, Jordan, shared a room. (much to their dismay), so I was taken aback when Jillian said, "Mom, you should go look at Jordan sleeping, she looks like an angel, she looks so cute." Such kind words for her sister were so rare; I felt goosebumps when she said this. I told her I didn't want to wake Jordan up and bear the brunt of her wrath if I did, so I never went in to look (I now wish I had). This whole day I had a feeling I couldn't describe. Almost like I knew something was going to happen.
After Jordan woke up she asked if I would drive her to her friends Danielle's house because they were going to go grab a bite to eat with their friends, Jeff, Sam, Tim, and Melanie. Jillian wanted me to take her to the mall and I told Jordan we were going wouldn't she like to go, too? She said no. (which was a total surprise, she never passed going to the mall). I am not the most patient person and when I am ready to go I want to go. The girls were dawdling and I remember telling them to hurry or I was leaving without them. I headed out the door to my car. I got in. I remember looking at the door, drumming the steering wheel impatiently for the girls to come. I will forever see Jordan walking out the door with a sandwich in one hand and her duffel bag in the other. The girls got in the car and we were off. I remember giving them my usual lecture about how they needed to earn their own money, because I as a single mother, could not continue to hand them money to go out. This lecture continued until we got to Danielle's house, and of course, as Jordan was getting out of the car I handed her a twenty and told her I loved her. (something I am so glad I did, because it was the last time I ever saw her alive.). It was a habit for me to tell her I loved her, because a year earlier, a friend and classmate, Brian, had been killed in a car crash on Palm Sunday.
Jillian and I headed up to the mall to do our errands and then on the way home she asked if we could stop and get lunch. We stopped at Jordan's favorite place, Red Lobster. When Jillian and I sat down I told her I felt weird being there without Jordan. We ate and left and went home.
After getting home at around 4:30, I picked up the house and made sure my son took his bath. He was getting ready to watch "Wrestlemania" on pay per view. At around 5:30 the phone rang and Jillian answered it. She said, "Some guy from Boston City Hospital is on the phone." I thought it was a solicitation call. When I got on the phone he asked, is your name, Joanne Cone? Do you have a daughter, Jordan? Does she have friends named, Danielle, Jeff, Tim, Sam, and Gary? After each question, my mind was racing and things were starting to click. I said yes and then he proceeded to say that Jordan had been in a car accident and was in critical condition and I need to get to the hospital. I live 45 minutes from Boston and I don't know the city at all. I called my friend to see if she would take me and of course she said yes. It seemed like an eternity before she arrived, 30 minutes later. We then hit terrible traffic and the road we needed to take was closed for a detour. We finally got to the hospital and then it was like a maze and it took us 20 more minutes to finally find the emergency room. I approached the desk and told the person who I was and that my daughter had been brought there. He asked me to wait and in a few minutes a doctor appeared. He asked me to follow him and as I did, I knew when we went into a room that Jordan was dead. Everything from that point is blur. I remember him telling me that she had been medflighted with head injuries and they were preparing to take her into surgery when she died. I remember asking stupid questions and then after about an hour leaving to go home. I did find out later, that Jeff, who was driving in excess of 70 mph, lost control of the car spun around and hit a tree. Jordan's friend, Craig, died instantly. Her friend, Danielle, had a punctured lung, fractured pelvis and severe head injuries and is now physically doing well. Jeff was in a coma for 4 months and is still in a rehabilitation hospital recovering from severe head trauma.
Since Jordan and Craig had known each other since 2nd grade and his parents and I had gone to school together and to make it easier on their friends and classmates, we decided to have their wakes and funerals together. The turnout was tremendous with over 500 people attending their wake and even more attending the funeral. They are now buried side by side.
Craig's family and I have gotten together and formed an alliance with a State Representative to get a bill passed in our state that will require junior operator's (16-18) to gain more driving experience prior to obtaining their licenses. (Jeff had gotten his license only two months prior to the accident). We also wrote an amendment to the Representative's Bill, that would only allow passengers in the car after you have had your license for six months, or you have a front seat passenger who is eighteen or older and has had their license for a year or more with no incidents. We feel that had a Bill like this one been law in March, Jordan and Craig would still be alive. We are advocates of graduated licensing and of making sure our teens are taught to become safe and responsible drivers. We are big proponents of making sure that parents take a more active role in their children's drivers education and that it is okay to not let you child get their license if you feel that are not ready.
I hope that we can all learn from Jordan's death that we are not invincible and that it doesn't always happen to "the other guy". It just may happen to you.
You can send email to Joanne at: [email protected]
anniversary date 03-23-97
date of post 11-21-97