Marker is a reminder of life

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 31, 2006

When Sarah Beth Welch tries to express her feelings about the morning of Nov. 5, 2003, the words stop coming.

Each day, she looks around and sees her life filled with many blessings &8212; a beautiful husband, a precocious 2-year-old son and another child on the way.

And that is when the words cease and the tears begin.

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&8220;There is just so much about me that she doesn&8217;t know,&8221; Sarah Beth said before turning away in silence.

Before that morning, Sarah Beth and Lacy Scarborough knew practically everything about each other.

They were sisters, yet they were not born into the same family.

They lived in different houses on Margaret Street and claimed different parents, yet they were inseparable.

&8220;They basically grew up from the first-grade to forever,&8221; said Shelly Scarborough, Lacy&8217;s mother. &8220;Some nights we would find one or the other sleeping in the same room together. One of them would have climbed out of her bedroom window, crossed the yard and sneeked into the other one&8217;s room.&8221;

And anyone who knew Lacy and Sarah Beth knew they were sisters, if not by blood certainly in spirit.

They went to high school together, went to Copiah-Lincoln Community College together, they worked at Britton & Koontz bank together. They got married two months apart &8212; Lacy in May, Sarah Beth in August.

Lacy&8217;s mother, father and sister had moved to the Gulf Coast. But Lacy remained in Natchez with her new husband, firefighter Eric Stampley to begin a career as an emergency medical technician.

As their lives changed, the bond between the two &8220;sisters,&8221; remained strong.

&8220;They went through everything together,&8221; Shelly said.

&8220;When they couldn&8217;t talk to mommas, they could talk to each other.&8221;

And that is what makes the morning of Nov. 5, 2003 difficult for Sarah Beth.

She had gone for an early lunch. Lacy was on her way home from taking a test at Co-Lin.

Witnesses say they saw a green pick-up truck try to move into Lacy&8217;s northbound lane of Seargent S. Prentiss Drive. She lost control, spun into oncoming traffic and was broad sided by another vehicle in front of Grace United Methodist Church.

When Sarah Beth first heard the news of the accident, she immediately tried to contact Lacy.

&8220;All we knew was that it was bad, very, very bad,&8221; Sarah Beth said. &8220;I called Lacy on her cell phone and I didn&8217;t get an answer.&8221;

Standing on the side of the road below Grace United Methodist Church is a tall thin cross made from PVC pipe decorated with a garland and inscribed with the words &8220;Ya &045;Ya,&8221; a family name given to Lacy by her niece.

The cross was placed at the site by Eric Stampley&8217;s uncle, and for a year after the accident Shelly could not drive by.

To this day, Lacy&8217;s dad still will not drive by the spot.

Now, Shelly and her husband make regular trips to Natchez to visit the grave site and make sure that the cross is maintained. When the Scarboroughs are unable to come, Sarah Beth helps keep the cross seasonally decorated.

For Lacy&8217;s mother the marker is not so much about death, but about the preciousness of life.

&8220;I can&8217;t remember the last phone call I made to Lacy. I can&8217;t remember saying, &8216;I love you,&8217;&8221; Shelly said. &8220;I think that is a lot of what the memorial says. That you just don&8217;t know.&8221;

&8220;Go home, hug your mom, your best friend or you sister, because you just don&8217;t know,&8221; she said.

&8220;You might get a phone call in the morning and it&8217;s over.&8221;

By the end of the year Sarah Beth will go to the cross to replace the string of evergreen and poinsettias with other decorations.

Remembering times when Lacy expressed disdain when they drove by houses with their decorations up way past the holidays, Sarah Beth makes sure that the white cross on Seargent S. Prentiss is appropriately dressed.

&8220;Lacy was like that,&8221; Sarah Beth said. &8220;You just don&8217;t leave Christmas decorations up.&8221;