From the moment Cheyenne was born, she was spunky, genuine, positive, and so full of life. She grew up loving the world of Disney and you could find her wiggling through the grocery store in her Snow White dress even though her favorite princess was Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Anything Disney-related became “our thing.” One time we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride nine times in a single day.
Cheyenne loved food. She used to say she would marry pizza. That girl had to have her Krispy Kreme doughnuts—because nothing else was good enough. She loved Starbucks, as all teenagers do, and she’d make me stop to take a selfie whenever she found the perfect light. She wanted to live in California because she loved the ocean and the beach. Her favorite time of year was Halloween with haunted houses, costumes, and pumpkin spice lattes.
Cheyenne had so much energy and she started dance when she was just 3 years old. Her passion was contemporary dance and in high school she would choreograph many routines for the school assemblies. Two days before the car crash, she performed in a dance concert with her best male friend, Hunter. The two of them had been practicing to get ready for the high school dance tryouts. Unfortunately, Cheyenne never had the chance to attend tryouts.
On the morning of May 20, 2015, I drove Cheyenne to school. That was the last time I saw her. I was with my husband that night at a Boy Scout event when Cheyenne called me to ask if she could get ice cream with her friends. I was about to say no, but she mentioned she had finished the dishes and that her homework was done, so I said yes. As I drove home, I saw police cars and ambulances on the corner of my road. It literally happened right there.
I called Cheyenne 15 times but she didn’t pick up. A Jeep had t-boned the car she was in. Her friend, Hunter Kelson, was also killed. I will always remember driving past the scene and seeing that sheet on the back window of the car. What I didn’t know at the time, was that it was my daughter’s body the sheet was covering.
Cheyenne was friends with everyone. I didn’t realize exactly how sweet she was until her funeral. There were so many stories from people who didn’t know her that well, but said she had left an imprint on their lives.
Cheyenne was my only child. She was my best friend and my only family. But more than that, she was my dreams, my laughter, my pride, my future. I lost myself when I lost her and now there is just silence. I go grocery shopping and there’s Cheyenne’s favorite cereal or her favorite drink. No one says, “Mom I’m hungry. Can we go to Krispy Kreme?” No one calls me on my cell phone. And no one makes me stop to take selfies. Everywhere I go, I’m reminded that I don’t have my child; and every morning I wake up, it’s May 20th all over again.
It amazes me how people become mundane to how they drive. We see it every day—people on their phone, cars swerving, or tailgating. In one heartbeat you can destroy someone’s life by not paying attention. Slow down. Don’t race lights and don’t be distracted. You are accountable for everyone’s life when you step in a vehicle.