*An Indianapolis woman in the final stages of breast cancer gathered the strength to attend her daughter’s championship soccer game on Saturday before passing away Monday, just 40 hours after watching her daughter’s team win the state title.
Stephanie Turner arrived to Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School’s Carroll Stadium in a wheelchair and under a blanket, according to USA Today columnist Gregg Doyel, who was invited into the suite where Turner and her family watched the game.
“She is so weak she can barely speak, her words coming softly in small mouthfuls, gentle words like, ‘I love my kids.’” Doyel wrote.
Before she grew ill, Stephanie also made a point to attend the games of her son John Turner, a senior safety at Notre Dame; and her son William, a freshman running back on Brebeuf’s varsity team.
But on Saturday, Stephanie was focused on her middle child Lauren Turner, and the Brebeuf girls soccer team playing Penn High School for the Class 2A state title Lauren was the goalie.
“I had to be here,” Stephanie told Doyel. “I wouldn’t miss this.”
Each of Lauren’s teammates waved to Stephanie’s suite during their introductions before the game. When Lauren’s name was announced, Stephanie’s mom, Nettie Watkins, said to her daughter, “There’s your baby! Oh, and she waved to her mama. Did you see?”
Stephanie Turner nodded and said,“Mmm-hmm.”
“She is wearing a maroon Brebeuf hat, with a Brebeuf windbreaker over her Brebeuf soccer shirt. Her eyes are yellowing behind her glasses, jaundiced from liver failure,” wrote Doyel.
Stephanie’s husband, Troy, is asked how her three children have been able to remain focused as their mother grew weaker and weaker in the past months.
“Troy smiles. He gestures at the suite behind us, at Stephanie in her wheelchair, under the blanket. ‘She’s our strength,’ he says. ‘If she can handle this, we can’t justify not being able to handle it, too.’”
Once Brebeuf secured their 2-1 victory, Lauren Turner sprinted off the field and ran up the bleachers to her mother in the suite, followed by all of her teammates.
“In a corner of Suite 7, Lauren Turner is almost inconsolable. Teammates are holding her up, and after about three minutes the team is heading back onto the field for the trophy presentation,” writes Doyel.
Stephanie is asked if she wants to go onto the field for the trophy ceremony. Doyel writes:
“I have to be there,” she says, and in a few minutes she is in her wheelchair, under her blanket, next to the field. She watches her daughter receive a championship medal.
Brebeuf gets the team trophy, a giant plaque of wood and brass, and now Lauren has it. She walks to her mom, setting the trophy on her lap. Behind them, Troy is tucking the blanket around his wife’s neck, and draping a jacket over that. Warm now, she lowers her head and closes her eyes.
Doyel tweeted the sad news that Stephanie Turner died today.
— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) November 2, 2015