Most people have certain moments that change their life. Moments that stop them dead in their tracks and make them realize that from there on, nothing will ever be the same. For Jocelyn Hodges, that moment came on a sunny summer afternoon almost three years ago. [katie]
It was a Friday and Hodges had just gotten home from work, and was hanging out with her roommates on Beal St. She was a communications major going into her junior year at MSU. Wrapped up in a blanket, she sat amongst her friends laughing about who was going to make the next beer run. It was July 31, about 3:30 p.m. when she got the phone call from her dad.
\”Jocelyn, there\’s been an accident,\” her father told her. He went on to explain that her younger sister and one of her best friends had been rear-ended on the expressway, throwing her car into oncoming traffic. Kaitlyn Hodges was a sophomore in high school, and had been on her way home from a trip up north with her friends. When her dad told her that Kate had died, she went into shock. \”Should I come down there?\” is all Jocelyn could spit out. \”Yeah, I think you should,\” her dad said, and they both hung up.
Jocelyn had seen Kate a few weeks earlier when the family traveled to the Traverse City Cherry Festival for vacation on the fourth of July. Kate called Jocelyn the day before her accident, but Jocelyn was at work so she couldn\’t talk long. Yet, Jocelyn has no regrets about her last words to her sister. \”I told her I loved her,\” Hodges said. \”So I don\’t know what else I could have said. She knew that she was loved; we always say that, she knew she was important to all of us. It\’s not like I wish I could talk to her just one more time or see her just one more time because I know that wouldn\’t be enough for me. I want her back.\”
Although the death of a close friend or family member can ruin the lives of their loved ones, it can sometimes bring strength and bonding among those suffering from pain and grief.
In April, hundreds from the MSU community gathered to mourn the death of Mary Beth Knox, a beloved student, twin, aunt and sister to the girls of Alpha Chi Omega. Mary was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer, sarcoma, nearly a year before she passed away.
The Rock on Farm Lane provided a place for over 250 grieving students to share their thoughts and memories of Mary in a candle lit vigil. One of her sorority sisters, Kailey Coleman, read a poem she had written for Mary. Her words not only spoke of pain for their loss, but optimism in the thought that Mary Beth was in a better place.
\”We\’ll try not to mourn for long, because we know where you\’ll be. A place better than here, where you can be free,\” read a teary-eyed Coleman.
\”Mary\’s death was really bittersweet,\” said Adrienne Waun, a member of Alpha Chi Omega and a close friend to Mary Beth. \”I didn\’t want her to be in pain anymore. She was such a trooper. She had to struggle so much just to get through the day. She was so strong; I never thought she wouldn\’t be able to fight it. She was such an amazing person and always held her head up high. She never would let you know how sick she was, she was such a fighter.\”
At the funeral, the priest told stories of the last few days he shared with Mary. Until the end, she was filled with laughter, her fun-loving spirit shining through. When he asked her if she was scared, Mary responded that was not afraid to die, adding the only thing that worried her was how much she would miss her family. Shortly before her death, one of Mary\’s last wishes came true. She became the godmother of her nephew, Ethan, baptizing him in her U of M hospital bed. [mary]
Mary Beth\’s twin sister, Marcy Knox, was one of the people most affected by her death. The sisters\’ connection was undeniable and the relationship they shared was one that most do not get to experience in a lifetime. \”The bond they showed to everyone was really inspirational. When Mary Beth died she wasn\’t alone, she was with Marcy. We still get to see Mary Beth through Marcy. Those two are a tribute to sisterhood,\” Waun said.
April 27 marked the one month anniversary of Mary Beth\’s death. An away message by Marcy still lets everyone know that her sister, or \”Sarcey,\” a nickname they called each other, will never be forgotten. \”Sarcey,\” it reads, \”Every day that goes by we are one day closer to being together again. I love you.\”
The death of a close friend or family member affects everyone in different ways. As for Jocelyn Hodges, after the shock wore off, the death of her sister dramatically changed her life. Her junior year, the year right after Kate\’s death, was the hardest year of her life. \”I tried so hard to act like it didn\’t happen and life was normal, but it was impossible,\” Hodges said. \”I was a mess that entire year. So many people expressed they were worried about me and concerned but I didn\’t see it. I would go days without getting out of bed. I would sleep through exams. If I did make it to class, I would just laugh at it, thinking how unimportant it was. Everyone was worrying about grades and studying and I was just like \’whatever.\’\”
Jocelyn spent that year acting like it never really happened, going through an emotional rollercoaster. After receiving a call from the dean about her academic probation, she was forced to face reality. She finished her year, barely passing her classes, and then took a leave of absence for the first semester of her senior year. She took the time off and started to see a therapist. \”It helped to talk to someone about it besides my friends, an outside source. It made me realize that it actually did happen and it did happen to me,\” Hodges said.
She now looks back on her sister in loving memory, and can talk about her much more freely than she could in the past. \”It\’s affected my life so much,\” she stated. \”Not me as a person but my relationships are a lot different. I look at everything around me differently and how I make my choices in life.\”
\”When it comes to my family,\” she continued, \”I think something like this can either tear a family apart or bring them together. My family bombarded together. For a while a lot of us were scared to talk about her, scared to bring up the emotions. Now if something funny happens where it reminds us of her we will joke and laugh like \’Kate would have loved that.\’\”
Jocelyn keeps a picture of her and Kate on the dashboard of her car and there\’s not a day that goes by without thinking of her late sister.
As for what this experience has taught Jocelyn? \”Life\’s too short. I mean, you never know what\’s going to happen.\”
If you are grieving with the loss of a loved one and need someone to talk to please visit www.couns.msu.edu. To hear more about Mary Beth Knox\’s story or to donate to the Mary Beth Scholarship Foundation, please visit her care page at www.carepages.com.