April 22, 2013 at 8:03 AM ET
Almost four years ago, Jackie Hance's three daughters were tragically killed in a horrific car accident. Hance's sister was behind the wheel of the vehicle as it headed the wrong way on New York's Taconic State Parkway. "I'll See You Again" tells the story of how Hance grappled with her overwhelming feelings of loss and how she's found the strength to go on. Here's an excerpt.
Warren drives frantically toward the police barracks in Tarrytown, New York, tightly clutching the wheel of his Acura. His three little fair-haired daughters should be heading home right now in a two-tone red Windstar, driven by his sister, Diane, but something has happened. He’s gone to the spot on the road where he told his sister to wait, but saw no sign of any of them. Not Diane or her two children. Not his three girls.
Cars don’t disappear. Children don’t vanish from the earth.
The police barracks looms ahead. Warren rushes in, and his father, who has come with him, follows behind. Warren starts to blurt out his story, but the troopers are already aware of the situation.
“Somebody else gave us the information,” one tells him. “Maybe your wife.”
The police claim they have done a twenty-five-mile-radius search, and there’s no sign of the missing car. Later, Warren will wonder how they could have missed it.
Children don’t vanish from the earth.
After his last call with her, when she sounded so ill, Diane stopped answering her cell phone. Now Warren suggests that the police try to track it. Cell phones have GPS, and pinging a signal always works in the movies. If they locate the phone, maybe they can find her. In the background, Warren hears one of the officers take a 911 call from his friend Brad, who has also called to report the situation. Missing car. Missing children. Huge worry.
The police, less concerned, gently urge Warren to leave.
“There’s a diner about a mile down the street,” one of the cops says.“If your sister wasn’t feeling well on the road, maybe that’s where she went, to get something to eat.”
Warren and his father drive to the diner, but the Windstar isn’t in the parking lot. As they drive around aimlessly for a few minutes, a sense of futility engulfs them, and Warren turns back to the police station. This time, the moment Warren pulls up, a trooper rushes out and opens the door of a police vehicle.
“Get in the car,” he calls out to Warren. “I’ve got to take you to the hospital.”
Warren feels the blood drain from his head. “This is bad,” he says to his father.
They get to the hospital, and Warren rushes in, yelling for his girls— his daughters, his life. Nobody has told him anything.
“Where are my children?” he asks.
A trooper who is waiting there takes him to a side room. He tells Warren the news.
Warren slams his fist, making a hole in the wall. Then another. He would punch a hole in the universe if he could, stop time, make it turn back. The trooper begins to sob, devastated. He shows Warren a picture of his own baby and Warren claps him on the back as the trooper cries in sympathy and fear and frustration.
A strange composure descends on Warren. He wants to talk to somebody about organ donation, to see how he can help even as his own life is disintegrating. But there is confusion everywhere, and the troopers are gone.
He asks for a room with a phone where he can be alone.
His first call is home.
Warren’s father’s version of a BlackBerry is a scrap of paper in his wallet with phone numbers of all the aunts and uncles and cousins. He hands it to Warren, who calls every one. He wants to be the one to tell them.
An hour or so later, three of his close friends come into the hospital. Brad and Rob flank Warren and lead him outside, where their friend Doug is in a car to whisk him home. As his father stays behind to wait for Diane’s husband, Warren’s community of friends is already coming together to protect him.
A hundred yards away, reporters are beginning to arrive at the hospital with microphones and cameras. It’s a big story. Someone must have something to say. But nobody notices the grieving father as he leaves the hospital.
Reprinted from I'll See You Again by Jackie Hance with Janice Kaplan by arrangement with Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Copyright (c) 2013 Simon & Schuster
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