prophetic story shortly before death
written shortly before her death
John Stull clutches a stuffed animal given to him by girlfriend Lacy Pittman while visiting the site of her fatal crash. (Lincoln Journal Star)
Lacy Pittman didn’t
finish the story she began writing just hours before her death on Sept. 6.
It was a story intended as fiction, but one that foretold her family’s tragedy.
The story unfolded as reality shortly after the 17-year-old Northeast senior left the computer screen at her grandparents’ house, where she often took a lunch break from school.
As she walked out the door, she asked them to leave the story up on the computer. She’d be back later that day to finish it, she told them.
But around 5 p.m. that day — while driving home to grab clothes to coach soccer practice — Pittman lost control of her car, skidded sideways into oncoming traffic and was hit on the passenger side by a pickup truck.
Officials said she was killed instantly and didn’t suffer, news that consoles her mother, Lisa Johnson.
But the pain of losing her oldest daughter is so intense that the reality seems like fiction.
“I think I’m still in shock,” Johnson said. “I’m waiting for her to walk through that door and this nightmare to be over.”
It's so hard to go through life living with what you're used to having and knowing that you'd better enjoy it because in a couple of minutes it may very well be gone.
Pittman’s unfinished story about a pivotal moment in a family’s life was prophetic enough, Johnson said, adding she finding new meaning in other themes of the family’s life.
Such as the angel-print shower curtain they bought recently for their new rental home near Eagle.
The angel on the purse Pittman carried around.
And the butterfly wings she planned to have tattooed between her shoulder blades when she turned 18.
“I know she’s in heaven,” Johnson said. “Now she has her wings.”
But in her grief, Johnson continues to play the what-if game.
What if they hadn’t moved out to the country just two weeks before, requiring long drives on the county road where Pittman ultimately died.
What if Lacy had been wearing her seatbelt.
What if she had been unable to find someone to replace her at her hotel job so she could coach her brother, Camdyn’s, soccer practice.
Each scenario has its own retort.
The house in Eagle was a gem that just dropped in the family’s lap, Johnson said, and Lacy loved it.
The way the accident occurred, a seatbelt would not have helped, officials told Johnson.
And finding someone to work her shift at the hotel was the right choice because Camdyn and the other little boys on the soccer team adored her, Johnson said. In fact, Johnson encouraged Pittman to make the change during the few rushed minutes she saw Pittman early that morning.
“There’s not going to be another morning that I’m going to rush out that door,” she said.
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Johnson can speak for her daughter, even if the words come with difficulty.
But Pittman is perfectly capable of speaking for herself with the stacks of writing she left behind.
She journaled constantly, expressed herself in poems that she sometimes e-mailed en masse to family and friends, wrote stories with wisdom uncharacteristic of someone her age and composed songs that her sister Chyna sang in a family band they called “No U Turns.”
She also enjoyed painting and photography, and took several gifted classes.
Johnson, who had Lacy when she was 16, said the writing was a manifestation of a grown-up childhood that included multiple divorces, the needs of four younger siblings, health problems and tight finances.
“I grew up with her, so in some ways she wasn’t my daughter,” she said. “At times, it felt like she was raising me.”
Pittman often bought her own clothes, telling her mother she should spend her money on her four other brothers and sister.
“She never wanted to bother anyone,” she said. “She wanted to be grown-up.”
John Stull of Lincoln, 18, would have celebrated a one-year relationship with Pittman the day after the accident. He said she was mature and responsible to a fault, often refusing to let him pay for her when they went out together.
He said he would miss her sense of humor most.
“I’ll miss her facial expressions. She was hilarious,” Stull said. “Every time I was with her, I laughed.”
The two hoped to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, live in an apartment together and eventually get married.
“We had so many plans,” Stull said. “I still can’t believe it happened. I know I’m just a kid, but I know she was the one for me.”
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More than 400 attended Pittman’s service at Fairview, something Pittman would not have believed because she thought people didn’t notice her, Johnson said.
But Pittman was a petite beauty, she said, a “walking muscle” from her gymnastics days with big blue eyes and curly blond hair. She even had begun modeling.
A soccer player and competitive athlete, Pittman was buried in her No. 6 jersey.
Johnson’s worry heightened in the wake of the accident. She wonders how she will ever let her other children drive.
Despite her mother’s repeated pleas, Pittman only wore her seatbelt at night because that’s when she believed accidents happened.
Once the family had moved out of Lincoln, Johnson encouraged her daughter to make a checklist of all the items she would need for the day to cut down on the number of trips home.
On one occasion, Johnson text-messaged Pittman soon after she left the house for the day reminding her to put on her seatbelt.
Pittman’s reply: Stop worrying.
“There were so many things she wanted to do,” Johnson said, “and she would have done it all.”
Reach Rachael Seravalli at 473-7242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.