Thursday, March 29, 2012

Remembering Those We've Lost

Today marks 4 years since Tyler was hit by a drunk driver.  It also marks 4 years since the death of Annie McLeod.  I didn't know Tyler at the time of the accident and was never privileged to have met Annie, but the memory of her is something that I think of daily.  This event impacted Tyler greatly.  It has made me look at life so differently and cherish every moment I have with those that I love.  You never know when it can be your last.  I am so grateful for Tyler's life.  Here is the article he wrote last spring before he graduated from UNCW.

There are moments in life that define you; moments that form your character and chisel you from the concrete slab. Moments that reveal the real you, show you your real name. It is a test, a trial and the beginning of new life and perspective. I have had such a moment. It came my second semester freshman year in the spring of 2008. It was when I was hit by a drunk driver. It was when Annie McLeod passed away.
I was taking a study break. There was an anthropology test on Monday night, and I had six chapters to cover. My roommates were going to a small get-together for someone's cousin's after-prom party. I had no desire to go, but my friends promised it would be fun.  My eyes tired from blank stares at the tiny print, so I reluctantly agreed. I volunteered to drive.
Because my Wrangler was too small and because there was no gas, Sarah offered her car. She drove a brand new Acura; I did not object. We drove from campus to Cape Cottages where Sarah's friend Annie, the hostess, lived. I remember that it was raining. When we arrived, all of the proper introductions took place. I met Annie McLeod, a bright 22-year-old with a welcoming smile. After just minutes we had become friends. A friendship, I am sad to say, that was cut too short.
It wasn't long until I heard someone say, "That kid is sick."
"That guy should go home."
"Where does he live?" Annie asked.
"Just down the street."
"Who can take him?"
"Tyler can, he drove us here," offered Sarah.
"I'll drive him home in his car. Tyler, just follow and pick me up from his house," said Annie.
No problem.
We were talking about something on the way back to Cape Cottages: Sarah, Annie and me. Something about writing for magazines, I think. We were almost at the light just before the bridge to College Road. I turned on my indicator.
Then there was nothing.
I woke up under a bright light. Nurses were cutting off my clothes. My loafers were filled with blood. Someone put a phone to my ear, and my parents' voices were on the other end. I couldn't tell them what happened; I simply didn't know. But I was alive. At least I could tell them that. Then all was dark.
I awoke a few hours later after surgery. My family and some of my fraternity brothers were sitting around the room. My friend Justin was giving me water with a wet sponge. My roommate Lotan was sitting in the corner. My parents were at the foot of the bed. They all smiled as I lifted my eyes, but the moment was fleeting and sadness returned to their faces. I asked them what happened. They told me.
We had been hit by a drunk driver. His car had hydroplaned as he crossed the bridge over Market Street. The car slid through the median at 60 mph and hit the Acura head on. I had a severe compound fracture on my right leg. Sarah had one as well. She also had a broken jaw. Annie, they told me, had died on the way to the hospital.
Kelvin Cardwell was 22-years old, the same age as Annie. He is the father of two small children. That night, on March 30, 2008, Cardwell decided to drive home after a few drinks at the bar. Mind you, he did not have a license.  Now he is in jail, serving a five year sentence for death by motor vehicle.
I sat behind him with my lawyer during his sentencing. Annie's family sat on the other side of the row. There can be no sense of justice. The five years Cardwell received was nothing in comparison to the bright life he took. He apologized to her family before leaving in chains.
Afterwards, they all came up to me and asked me how I was. I was doing OK, but I could see that our wounds would take time to heal. Her parents were resolute. They make sure that their daughter's life continues to affect those in the Wilmington community.
I am now Annie and Kelvin's age. I think a lot about who they were at that time. How different their lives were. How different my life is now because of them. Why was it our fate to meet on that night? What forces brought us to that critical moment that would forever change our lives? That, I cannot answer.
And what if Annie had survived? I think of all of the great things she might have accomplished. She would have graduated from UNCW. She would have continued to be a positive influence in the lives of her friends and family. Maybe she would be married now or well into a successful career. It is not so. But I am here, and should I attest to live a life that Annie would be proud of is the basis of my daily actions.
The first time I met Annie's mother was outside of the Student Union by the spirit rock that Annie's sorority sisters had painted in her memory. We stood there talking about Annie and the wreck. I could find no words. What do you say to a grieving mother who just lost their child? I was so much younger then, so inexperienced with words and emotions.
If I could go back to that moment I would tell her how sorry I was and that the memory of her daughter lives on each day in my heart. I would tell her that because of Annie, my life had been changed. It was that moment that showed me who I was and taught me the value of being the best possible person I could be. Annie was that kind of person, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Tyler Roberts

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Great Ending to a Great Week!

Today was the day!  It was my very last talent show.  It was bittersweet to say the least.  Greek week was so much fun and we always end the week with talent show.  We were paired with Pi Kappa Alpha for the week and our skit was The Little Mermaid (One of my favorite disney movies of all time). I love watching all the other skits and they were all so good!  We have never won talent show since I have been at UNCW. I was the assistant talent show chair and talent show chair my freshman and sophomore year and I've always wanted to win.  You can only imagine my excitement when I found out that we won talent show and greek week!  I couldn't think of a better way to end my senior year.  I am so proud of our hard work and it certainly paid off.  All the late night practices and busy days were completly worth it.  Today made me realize how much I am going to miss all of these amazing women next year.  

Here are some of the pictures from this past week:

Powder puff football game.  Don't worry- I didn't play..just cheered on the sidelines :)

Basketball tournament champs!

We took a little break from all the craziness of the week to go to Wing Fling in Carolina Beach.  I had such  a good time with the girls!

Before talent show

Lafferty was the best Ursula!

Celebrating our wins!

My precious grand-little, Katie

I'll try to post the video once I get a copy of it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Busy Week!

I am having the busiest week ever!  I am teaching all day, every day and have 3 doctors appointments AND greek week and talent show at night.  I am one tired girl to say the least.  I am loving greek week though and so sad that it is my last one (at least at UNCW).  I can't wait to upload pictures of all the events and talent show for y'all to see.  Greek week and talent show is one of my favorite times of the year.  I am very competitive so I love events like these.  

I'll share pictures soon! 

XOXO, April

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Fun

It has been an eventful weekend and I have loved every minute of it!  Friday was Lilly's 1st birthday, so we spent the afternoon with her at the beach.  We drove down to the south end of Wrightsville so she could swim.  She loves swimming (as any lab does).  It's crazy to think my little puppy is already 1!

Saturday was my roommate, Katie's birthday.  What an awesome birthday to have on St. Patrick's day.  We had people over at our house all day.  We had oysters and I tried my first one and loved it!  This is a big deal for me since I do not like seafood at all.  I used to be so jealous when we would go to oyster roasts because I always wanted to eat one but was scared it would make me sick.  I thought this was the best time to try it since it was at my house.  It was nice being able to spend the day outside with friends enjoying the beautiful weather.  I even got a little sun on my face and shoulders!

My roommates Katie and Elizabeth

Even Lilly joined in on the fun!

How did y'all spend St. Patrick's day?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Azalea Triathlon

Words can not describe how busy I have been trying to juggle everything.  School is becoming very busy as I am nearing the end (WEIRD, I know!).  It was nice to take time away from my busy schedule last weekend to enjoy the Azalea Triathlon.  Tyler competed in it along with his parents and their friends.  They had to swim 300 meters, bike 10 miles, and run 3.1 miles.  That exhausts me just thinking about it.  While it is always a huge accomplishment to finish a triathlon, Tyler's situation was even more special to me.  4 years ago this month, Tyler got into a terrible car wreck.  The doctor didn't think he would be able to keep his right leg.  Luckily, they were able to save his leg.  After undergoing 3 surgeries and so much pain, Tyler finally worked his muscle up in his leg.  I have watched him go through so much and work harder than anyone I have ever seen to get to where he is.  His determination to compete in this race was extraordinary.  I have never felt so proud as I did when he crossed the finish line.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Loren Hope Statement Necklaces

As I was browsing through Pinterest today, I saw that one of my friends had pinned these beautiful necklaces.  I am always looking for a new statement necklace to spice up an outfit.  I went over to Loren Hope Design website and fell in love with all of her stunning necklaces.  They are so eye-popping and unique.  I love the use of color in them, also.  She and I must have the same taste in color because she has all of my favorite colors in her necklaces.  I must say that I am sad there isn't an important holiday coming up that I can ask for one for.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Decorating With Color

I LOVE color!  I love how you can have an elegant room, yet still have colorful accents.  I love beige and white because they appear crisp and clean in a room, but I adore the way bright colors make me feel.  I love how these rooms have a balance of both.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Exciting News!

As I'm sure most of you know, I have been very involved in my sorority, Phi Mu.  I couldn't imagine not being involved next year as an alumna.  Every time I would think about graduating, I would think about having to leave all of the wonderful friends that I have made in Phi Mu.  I have heard many people and sorority women say that it is just a social thing to join a sorority.  I have never felt that Phi Mu was only something social to do.  Phi Mu has given me so much support with everything in my life and provided me with a bond of love that I share with my sisters.  It has been very hard to think of what my life would be like not having Phi Mu things to do everyday.  With all of this in the back of my head, I took a leap of faith and applied to work for our national headquarters next year as a chapter consultant.  Chapter consultants travel the United States working with chapters to help them with anything they need help with from recruitment to philanthropy events and to ensure they are operating properly.  Some chapter consultants even get to live in a town where Phi Mu has just come onto campus and help that particular chapter understand how our sorority functions.  I didn't really think that I would even get called for a phone interview, but I applied with high hopes in November.

To my surprise, I was called for a phone interview. I was so nervous, but so excited.  I thought that I would certainly not make it past the phone interview round.  I knew that so many wonderful leaders across the United States were applying for this same position and I didn't know if I would even stand out.  In January, I got a phone call saying they wanted to fly me out to Peachtree City, Georgia for in-person interviews.  I was ecstatic!  I have never been to our national headquarters and I was just excited for the opportunity to go.  So two weekends ago, I got on a plane and headed for Georgia.  I had a mixture of excitement and nerves.  I clearly wanted to get the job but didn't want to get my hopes up and not get it and be devastated.  All of the girls at the in-person interview were amazing.  This made me even MORE nervous.  After meeting the headquarters staff and the girls that I could possibly be working with next year, I wanted the job more than ever.  Everyone was so friendly and it just felt right for me to be there.

I knew that I would be finding out sometime within the next 2 weeks, but I just didn't know when.  I was constantly glancing at my phone whenever I could to see if I had a missed call from headquarters.  Finally this week I did.  On Thursday, the kids had just gone to recess when I looked at my phone and saw I had a missed call and voicemail from them.  I immediately started to freak out.  Did I want to know then?  Could I wait?  My heart was racing.  My teacher told me to listen to the voicemail and call them back.  I did and I was so happy that I did.  I found out that I GOT THE JOB!   I couldn't believe it!  Not only did I get the job, but I found out I would be moving to Arkansas for the fall semester to help with extension and start our brand new chapter at the University of Arkansas!

I feel so honored to be selected to do this.  It means more to me that I can even put into words.  I can't wait to help with extension and help all the wonderful women who will join Phi Mu understand the values and bond that Phi Mu has.

Here are a few pictures from headquarters when I was at interviews:

Phi Mu's National Headquarters in Peachtree City, Georgia 

Beautiful floor

Lindsey and Shelby are some of the wonderful girls I met from JMU and USC- They got the job, too!  I am so excited to work with them.  So happy that Shelby will also be with me at the University of Arkansas in the fall!

I am so thankful for this opportunity I have been given.  I am so excited about being able to give back to a sorority that has given me so much <3 LIOB