Read the news story about Valerie McGregor and Sam Zawada her fiance’ here >>>>

This page is dedicated to the memory of Valerie McGregor and Sam Zawada, who were both killed in a single-car rollover accident in New Mexico on the way home to Tucson, Arizona. They were to be married and their family buried them instead. The funeral service was in the same church as the wedding was supposed to be in. This page is also dedicated to their loved ones, especially Emily McGregor, Valerie’s twin sister. Valerie and Emily ran together ever since they were young girls. They were both involved in track in high school and in college. Emily was at the University of Arizona in Tucson while Valerie (and her fiance’ Sam) went to Colorado State University. Sam was a musician and played guitar.

When most people think of someone they have lost they can go through their belongings and find a framed picture of their loved one as a reminder. But in the case of Emily, she sees her sister whenever she looks in a mirror because they were twins. To me, this would be a good thing sometimes and not so good at other times. Imagine seeing your sister in your reflection and then wanting to hug her!

They were both very close to each other and to their other family members. And now as Emily gets older, she will see her sister (or rather, her sister’s reflection) get older. But her sister Valerie is not there. If Emily picks up the phone spontaneously to call her sister, there won’t be anyone on the other end. Little things, little reminders bring back memories at the strangest times. And this poem is about that - about the struggles, and about hope too.  


Split Seconds


Among the giant galaxies ever so small

In the vast forevers and stars we call

By names so many no one can say

Or remember numbers like particles of clay


There are split seconds that seldom see

Anyone who sees them pass noticeably

There are split seconds without limits known

But each one is special and stands on its own


In one split second a race can be won

As judges deliberate and videos are shown

To determine the nose that protruded the most

Or the hand that extended in front of the post


In one split second a life can be spared

And new history is written and everything prepared

For the next fragment of time that is oh so small

For the split of the tick on the clock on the wall


And the line that divides the dusk and the dawn

Is forever moving even when I yawn

And while tired bodies of humanity sleep

Split seconds keep racing and forever leap


And with the plans we make and things we say

We think we have control most every day

But our dreams are ever in slow motion

As we give our plans so much devotion


And a split second is plenty to spare

For someone to travel from here to there

An encylcopaedia of history could be written down

For each split second in the world all around


When Valerie and Sam left this world behind

A split second passed and we couldn't find

Any more time to be with them here

To tell them we loved them and that they were so dear...


And sometimes when I'm running my heart becomes faint

When memories come back and a picture they paint

Of when Valerie and Sam and all that we planned

Vanished and were erased like footprints in the sand...


Instead of tuxedos and flowers and rice

Instead of music and dancing and a slice

Of cake and joy and really living that day

Came confusion and sorrow and "I don't know what to say..."


Sometimes I'm alone

When the anguish has grown

And split seconds become hours

And hours to groan

From pain

I can't explain

To anyone I see

I just keep running and running away from me

Faster and faster until a blur I see

Of all the dreams I try and forget and all that bothers me


...And then I look in the mirror and see the face

Of the girl who used to run with me in race after race

She was my twin sister I loved her so dear...


Sometimes the groaning within me to have her near

Becomes so great I can't hardly bear

The questions that nag me and nag me and draw out my fear

Where were you God

In that split second

When Valerie and Sam died

Are there too many split seconds for you to see how many people have cried

What can I say to everyone around

Who miss the sight and the sound

Of Valerie and Sam?


I'm so alone,  but I feel like I'm two people - not one


And when I look in the mirror I see the race isn't done

I'm still running and I'm the one

Who must carry the torch now - though I'm alone...


And sometimes at night the seeds of doubt are sown

That maybe you don't care

That maybe you left Valerie and Sam there

And maybe just for a split second the day that they died

Maybe for a split second our God lied

And all I hear is silence...


Help me to see that the other person on the other side of the mirror

Is still alive in your care

Help me to use every split second from now on

To look forward to each dawn

To look forward to each dusk

And to trust

That you are the God on both sides of the dusk and the dawn

The day and the night

The visible and the invisible

Before each split second, during and after,

And please give me laughter

And help me to see the day

When split seconds are gone

And the dusk and the dawn

Become the timeless sparkling joy that floods me

When I see... Sam and Valerie!




For the family of Valerie McGregor & Sam Zawada, especially for Emily McGregor, her twin sister.


By Randy Stahla 






I have a huge amount of respect for Emily because in 2005 she lost her Mother to cancer, and in 2006 she lost her twin sister Valerie as well as Valerie’s fiance’ Sam Zawada. The entire family is to be commended for all they have gone through and the way they have handled it. When you read all the details of their story, you will be amazed too.


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Blue Ballerina” was written for those who have lost someone because of a crime.