Carmalie Johnson is a woman in agony. You can tell by the look in her eyes as she talks about the loss of her first born. It’s evident in her tone, which reflects raw and biting pain. Her internal turmoil is clear and the hurt is deep as she struggles to accept that her daughter Waveney Johnson will never walk through the doors again, will never, ever come home again.
“I still expect my daughter to come home,” Carmalie told Barbados TODAY.
“I want my daughter to come home.”
Waveney died in the early hours of Sunday morning when the car in which she was travelling crashed into a guard wall along Two Mile Hill, St Michael around 3 a.m. The 25-year-old’s friends Shameka Shepherd, 23, Shakira Shepherd 22, and Carey Brathwaite, 18, also lost their lives. A fifth passenger in the silver grey Suzuki motor car driven by Shameka, Nakisha Shepherd, 23, was transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance and is fighting for her life.
The girls were making their way home following an evening of fun to celebrate Shameka’s birthday, which was on Saturday.
Carmalie is the first of the mothers to speak publicly since the accident and it was evident that she has lost more than a daughter; that she has lost a critical part of her, the very engine of her life.
“She is my first born. She is half of my heart,” she said in a telephone interview, referring to her dead daughter in the present tense. “I still can’t believe it.”
The mournful mom was alerted to the tragic news by a police officer who rang her early on Sunday morning. When she arrived home after leaving work at midnight her daughter was out. She thought nothing of it, she told Barbados TODAY. She left the door unlocked and went to bed.
Then the call came. The officer on the other end of the line asked for her daughter’s name and a description, then told her about the accident. She would later receive the dreadful news no parent wants to hear.
“When I got home she wasn’t there so I said to myself that she probably gone out with Shameka and them.
“She sleeps in late on Sunday mornings so when I got up when I got the news her door was opened,” Carmalie explained, still struggling to manage the torture that she felt.
She said that while she was not aware her daughter would have been attending the birthday celebration, she was not surprised that the girls were together because they lived like sisters. They were like a family that played together, and laughed together, and stuck together. They died together on that dreadful Sunday morning.
“If you see one, you see all of them; they were that close. I moved to St Philip when Waveney was a teenager and Waveney became friends with them, I don’t know if through school or on a bus. But they just formed a bond that nobody could break.
“If you see one anywhere, you would see the rest. They were that close,” she repeated.
Johnson said that as she struggled to cope, family, friends and co-workers were rallying around her and kept her busy answering her cellular phones, calling often to make sure she was doing okay.
Also close to Waveney was her younger brother who now lives in Canada. The grieving mother said that he too was not coping well with his sister’s death.
“They were very close. When he was living here they were inseparable. Right now, he is not doing well.”
Just recently Waveney told her mother that she planned to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI) from next September. She told Barbados TODAY she had encouraged the young woman to take that step and assured her that she would assist with the tuition fees. That dream died with the 25-year-old.
Even as she fights the pain inside, Carmalie remembers the sole survivor, saying that everyone was praying for Nakisha. She also shares the agony of the other parents whose daughters perished in the crash as well.
“I am mourning for all of them because I know all of them,” she said.
She visited the mothers of two of the deceased girls last night and they talked, cried together and reflected on the good friendship the girls had built.
“I was talking to Shameka’s mum and Shameka’s mum told me, ‘Waveney was like my daughter. Waveney used to push my door and come in and say, ‘what’s up mum’. Everybody is trying as best as we can. It is not going to be easy, but we are there for each other,” she said.