about abby

A journey of love, loss, health, and hope

I was standing on the side of the road when I heard the words that would forever change my life. 

“We’ve found no survivors.”


October 13, 2006, started out a perfect day. 

My husband, Rick, and daughter, Macy, headed out that morning to kindergarten and work. 

I was still on maternity leave with Caleb, my two-and-a-half week-old son. We snuggled in for a quiet day of newborn and mom bonding time.

Caleb and Macy 025.jpg

Around 4 o'clock Macy came bounding through the door exclaiming, "This is the best day of my life!" 

She went on to tell me all about her adventures climbing in a real-life fire truck as it had been fire safety week.

Her excitement continued as she told me in vivid detail that McGwire said hello to her by name. (There may have been a bit of swooning.) 

She then drew a picture of the two of them riding in a carriage with crowns.

She called her Papa and Gigi who were on a trip to Florida and told the story again with the same sweet giggles and excitement.

on the phone with gigi.jpg

Throughout the day I had had tightness in my chest which became progressively more painful. 

Rick and I decided it would be irresponsible to take any chances, so we decided I would go to the emergency room (it was Friday at 4:30 pm by now) to get checked out.

Rick would take Macy to open gym to play on the trampolines and practice stunting with the big guys. He would bring Caleb along too as we reasoned we didn’t want him around all the nasty germs in an ER room.

25  Macy at open gym 2006

After about an hour in the waiting room, I called Rick to see how things were going.

No answer.

I called again.

No answer.

After the fifth try, panic began to set in, and I left the ER without being examined to find my family.

As I drove, I remember screaming to God, “Please, put angels all around my family. Put angels all around my family.”

In my mind I envisioned mighty warrior angels, protecting them.

Caleb at Hospital 031.jpg

About three miles from our house, my eyes were assaulted by the barrage of flashing red and blue lights. 

My fears were confirmed. There had been a wreck.

Traffic was being redirected, but I refused to turn. I asked the police officer if a white van had been in the wreck.

I faintly heard him say, “possible family member” into his radio, and then he moved the cones and motioned me to drive over to the side of the road.

After what seemed like an eternity standing on the side of the road by myself, the state trooper came over to me, took hold of my elbow, and said the words,

"We've found no survivors.”

I told them to keep looking. Find the survivors.

But I quickly learned there were none to find.

And just like that, in the blink of an eye, life as I knew it was no more.

In my worst nightmare, I could not have imagined what would soon be my reality. 

They were all gone.

28  Caleb, Macy, and Rick the day Caleb was born

As I stood there numb from the shock, I vaguely remember hearing what had actually happened.

The driver of the car who hit my family was going over a hundred miles an hour… reports had been called in about an erratic driver… police were already in pursuit… the police had arrived on the scene minutes after it happened… the driver died too… my family didn’t suffer…

But the only fact that mattered remained.

My family was never coming back.

I learned the finality of death on that day. And the pain of being the one left behind.


What' I’ve learned through these last many years is that grief is brutal. It’s isolating. And at times unbearable. 

The pain of grief changes you.

There are times you think you are losing your mind.

It impacts every part of your life. 

But what I’ve learned is that I am not alone. 

During my travels speaking to tens of thousands of people, I’ve heard first-hand the loss and pain of a life that hasn’t turned out as planned.