The three girls were on a camping trip with “Aunt Diane,” and checked in with their mother often. Then, Jackie received a frightening call from her eldest daughter Emma. With the other children crying in the background, Emma told her mother, “something is wrong with Aunt Diane.” After the crash, it was revealed that Diane had a blood alcohol level that was double the legal limit and there was also evidence to suggest that she been smoking marijuana.
Yet after that entire ordeal nearly two years ago, Jackie is expecting a baby this fall.
After the accident so many people suggested that Warren and I consider having another child. They said having a baby was what the girls would want and it would give us a future. At the time it wasn’t something I could really take in. Anyway, when Katie was born, I’d had my tubes tied. But after listening to my friends, I slowly began to investigate in vitro fertilization. We had just paid for three funerals and a beautiful burial plot, so I didn’t know how we could afford the expensive procedure…
A friend of a friend worked for a fertility doctor in Manhattan and had heard about my situation. The doctor contacted me and offered to do the procedure. Everyone in his office was incredibly kind. I did two rounds of drug injections and egg retrieval, which gave me something hopeful to do every day. The eggs were fertilized and the resulting embryos frozen, though I didn’t really plan to use them. Even though I’d gone through the process, I wasn’t in a place where I could seriously think about having another child. I’d taken my friends’ advice and followed through on the doctor’s generous offer as if in a trance. It was just something to do, a way to keep my mind occupied.
Then a few months ago Warren and I drove back to the doctor’s office. I’d had a dream that I was standing in heaven and I could see Emma, Alyson, and Katie through these big gates. God would not let me inside the gates. He said that I had been given a gift from that doctor and I had to use his gift before I could be with my babies. So, almost in a daze, I told the doctor I wanted to try to get pregnant, never expecting it to work.
I got pregnant the very first time.
HBO is making a documentary about the car accident entitled There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane after Emma’s last words. Jackie writes in her personal essay that she’s uncertain whether she’ll be able to watch it. But her ability to mother again after such a devastating and, I can only imagine, haunting experience seems very unique — as well as courageous. Planning for a new baby after so much loss may not remedy what has happened to this brave mother, but her capability to look ahead is beyond remarkable.