That sunny day at the College of Charleston, life was perfect. I was surrounded by my family and Delta Gamma sisters at the pre-graduation brunch beaming at how blessed I was and almost in awe of the moment I was able to experience. My sisters and I founded our chapter at the college, and here they were standing with me for our graduation photographs. My special guest was my 25-year-old sister Jessica. Jess suffered from severe Spinabifida and was paralyzed from the waist down −up to that point she had undergone 33 surgeries. Jess never liked crowds. She was ignored in large groups and her wheelchair makes it difficult for her to maneuver. Each one of my DG sisters made sure to compliment Jessica on her outfit and watched as I did her makeup in the living room. I can still hear the clinking of the champagne bottles and the heels crossing the floor. I see the smiling faces of my family and friends. Yet this was not the day that I will remember every minute passing, every prayer or even every tear.
It was 10:04 a.m. two weeks later when I received the call. After a night home from routine surgery Jess wasn’t breathing. I was an hour from my home in Columbia, SC. I jumped in my Jeep racing against time. I was quickly pulled over on the interstate. I was handed a $475 ticket and 6 points on my license. At 10:41 a.m. I received the call that almost made me let go of the wheel. My prayers would not be answered−my sister had already been called to be an angel. Instead of letting go I called my DG sister Sarah Thomas and she helped get me through the remaining 30 minutes home to the ambulances and coroner in my driveway. My hands shake even now remembering all the arrangements I had to handle that week since my parents were in a state of shock. The love and encouragement I received from numerous women in my chapter throughout the process of arranging my sisters’ funeral service kept me going.
A week later I was emotionally drained and numb I lacked the strength to respond to the wave of support. I arrived at the church in rural Georgia, seven hours away from Charleston, SC, only expecting to see my immediate family and the members of our church to have my sister’s service. As I was about to enter the doors I heard my name called from the parking lot. Out stepped my sisters Sarah Thomas, Hallye Meeks and Erica Kramer. They had driven all day so I wouldn’t be alone. As I ran towards them it seemed as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders for at that moment I knew I could start my own grieving.
The morning I took the pledge to uphold the high ideals of friendship set forth by Delta Gamma I would not have guessed how much those friends would mean. These words I have written pale in comparison to the love I have for my Delta Gamma sisters. These women have been the light in my darkness and anchored my faith so that I may find my way again.
Brittany Pennington, Eta Sigma-College of Charleston was the Director of Eta Sigma's first Anchor Splash which raised more than $10,000 for Service for Sight, she also served as Director of Rituals. She is currently in the process of applying to Physician's Assistant School while working at the Medical University of South Carolina.