My heart was pounding in your ears, and I could hear the sounds of your crying as you walked through the door, my mother told me over the phone.
“I said, ‘Mama, I am sorry you are sad,’ but she was so sad that she was crying.”
I can still see the tears coming down her face, and your smile, my mom said, as she spoke softly to me.
“When I came home that night, I was like, ‘How could you not know?’
And I kept crying.”
My mom had been a nurse for 17 years and was well into her 50s when she died in October 2016, while her 6-year-old daughter, Ella, was at the wheel.
The girl and the older woman were driving on a road in a rural area of eastern New Mexico.
“My heart felt so bad,” Ella’s mother, Teresa, told me.
Teresa had been on a mission to find a way to help Ella overcome her addiction and death and was in the process of getting a prescription for the anti-anxiety medication Xanax.
“She told me about how she had gotten into drugs and her life was so messed up,” Teresa said.
Teresa and her husband, Joe, were looking for a way for their daughter to help heal.
“There was a chance that Ella could become a mother and be a good mom to Ella,” Teresa told me, “and that’s what I was hoping for.”
Teresa had met with the girl’s family, and they were in the midst of the process to arrange a funeral.
“We wanted to go home to her,” Teresa recalled.
“That’s why we called her mom.
She had told me that she loved me so much, and that was the best thing that could have happened.”
Teresa said she had not yet had a chance to say goodbye to Ellar.
“At that time, she was just so beautiful and loving, and she had a great heart,” Teresa remembered.
“And that was my baby.
We were just looking for that.”
Teresa’s son, Alex, had also died in the crash.
Teresa said that she had been unable to see her husband for months and he had not been able to get through to her.
“It was very difficult,” Teresa explained.
“Because he didn’t talk to me and it was very hard to get him to talk.”
Teresa was determined to find Ella a way out of her addiction, and to help her daughter find a new way of life.
“What would I have to do?”
“The only thing I could think about was to go to church with her and say, ‘We love you,’ and pray for you, and say goodbye,” Teresa continued.
“To be able to tell Ella that we love you and that you are loved, and we are still together, it would be wonderful.”
Teresa and Joe decided that Ellar would be the one to take the next step.
They arranged for Ella to meet her mother for the first time and they would then drive Ella home.
“Ella was crying so hard and sobbing,” Teresa wrote on Facebook.
“Joe said to me, ‘Mom, you can’t do this, you are so sorry, we are not going to do this.’
I told him, ‘I know I am, I have no regrets.'”
Teresa said the next morning, she told her husband.
“Mom, I’m going to miss you so much.
I can’t believe I am not here to go,” Teresa recounted.
“But I will be here.”
Teresa wrote that she did not want her son to know that Ellas death was her fault, but to tell her that he had done the right thing.
“In a sense, I didn’t want to talk to Ellas because I had done what she was supposed to do, but she said she would talk to him,” Teresa noted.
“Even though she was a beautiful, loving person, I had no idea how Ella was going to handle that.”
After Ella died, Teresa said, she could see Ella crying and thinking about her mother.
“Her tears were going to spill out,” Teresa added.
“This was something she had to deal with and I would have never wanted her to be that way.”
Teresa decided to take Ella out of the house for a few weeks so she could get away from Ella.
“On the weekends, she would be able go out and play outside, because she loved the water,” Teresa described.
Teresa described Ella as being very affectionate with her older daughter, who had not seen her since the crash, and told me Ella and her younger sister had been “always very close.”
“They were so much like siblings,” Teresa also said.