On September 12 around 11 p.m., my wife and I received a telephone call that no parents ever want to receive.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s office called to inform us that our youngest daughter, Stephanie (Taylor) Crowe, had been found dead in her bed. Kathie had answered the telephone call and soon awakened me, trembling and sobbing.
After a long and mostly sleepless night, we departed for Spokane, Washington mid-afternoon the next day to settle the affairs of our daughter’s life. We left late due to waiting for Stephanie’s sister, Ashley, to travel from Udall with her van, which had more room and carrying space then our small Hyundai.
All day long, Kathie had had a gut feeling that something was wrong. Stephanie had called her around 3 a.m. that morning, complaining of not having been able to sleep for the past day and a half and also of her wrist hurting. Stephanie had recently broken her wrist. She told Kathie that she had taken two sleeping pills, two Benadryl, and four ibuprofen, hoping to get some sleep. Kathie texted Stephanie later that afternoon and also, ironically, in the evening at approximately the same time that the coroner was at the home pronouncing our daughter deceased.
That late night conversation will be the last Kathie will ever have with Stephanie. She has said repeatedly since then how grateful she is that she talked to Stephanie for awhile that night, instead of telling her it was late and to just go to bed.
Since Stephanie’s divorce in June, drinking had become an increasing issue for her. We believe that the combination of alcohol remaining in her system from drinking earlier combined with the various medications may have been the cause of her death. We won’t really know, though, until we receive the toxicology report, following her autopsy, from the State of Washington.
Our long, arduous trek from Pratt to Spokane included two flat tires and a 60+ mile tow from west of Coeur D’Alene to our motel.
Having arrived, we sorted through Stephanie’s possessions, donating most of them to a community donation center called Arc of Spokane. We took some of her belongings home with us, particularly those that had personal or sentimental significance. We had her body cremated and scattered the remains at Vedauwoo, a unique and beautiful rock formation area that she visited when she was a student at the University of Wyoming. Stephanie began her college career there and maintained a love for the state even after moving to Washington and attending Eastern Washington University. She was one semester away from graduating from EWU and had anticipated attending graduate school. Stephanie graduated from Pratt High School in 2005.
Fortunately, Kathie and I spent a day and a half with her just two and one half weeks prior to her death, when we looped up to Spokane on our northwest vacation.
Life brings all types of sadness and adversity. Thankfully, family and friends help you down the rough roads. We returned to Pratt to find several sympathy cards in our mailbox, as well as phone messages expressing sympathy, not to mention numerous Facebook and e-mail messages Also, several members of our church provided financial support (unasked for), along with one of Kathie’s co-workers at Southwind Hospice and one of mine at Southwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging.
Everyone’s support, love, and prayers have been much appreciated as we begin what will be a long journey of healing.
We miss you, Stephanie.