MARIETTA — The family of a Wheeler High School senior who died over the weekend is still working on funeral arrangements for their 17-year-old daughter, but in the meantime could not be more thankful for the support they’ve received from the community.
Morgan Lide’s family said they learned about their daughter’s drowning in Bali, Indonesia, after an early-morning knock on the front door from AFS-USA members, formerly the American Field Services, who work with the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Program that she was a part of.
“It was early Saturday morning … at like 1 in the morning,” said Chuck Lide, Morgan’s father.
“I didn’t want to answer the door because I was suspicious,” said Lori Lide, Morgan’s mother. “Who would come to the door in the middle of the night? It never clicked in my head that people come to the door late at night to give bad news.”
Lori went on to say that her husband knew right away that it was probably bad news.
“It still wasn’t processing. … I asked, ‘Is it Morgan?’ and I think (Chuck) said, ‘Is she still here, still with us?’” Lori said. “These two ladies are volunteers, and that must have been the hardest thing for them.”
The family only learned a few details of their daughter’s death.
She was in Bali with members of the extended family she was living with, Chuck said.
“We learned that she drowned at the beach,” he said. “She swam out, they lost sight of her, they got the lifeguards to search for her and that’s pretty much what we learned. Truthfully, we haven’t learned that much more since. There’s not much else to know.”
The teenager’s body reportedly washed up on the shore and she was unresponsive to life-saving efforts.
The Lides had last spoken to Morgan on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 22 via Skype.
“We emailed a lot … it was tough to talk in person (on Skype), not only because of the time difference but because the Internet connections weren’t very reliable,” Lori said.
There is a 12-hour time difference between Indonesia and Marietta.
“She was always excited to be there though,” Lori said. “Morgan didn’t have any regrets. I asked her if she was homesick and she said, ‘Well, it comes and goes a little bit, but I would make this decision again.’ She was pretty happy, and everything was going well for her.”
Morgan was one of about 1,000 students nationally who interviewed for the student exchange program and among the 40 or so who got accepted.
Lori said her daughter looked into the program more than a year ago because she wanted to “travel and see things all over the world.”
Morgan left for Indonesia about two months ago and expected to return in June.
“She was definitely adventurous,” said Morgan’s older sister, Catherine.
Added her mother: “She wasn’t afraid to try new things, not afraid to try all kind of weird foods, she wasn’t judgmental of people.”
It’s been four days since the family learned about Morgan’s drowning, and while they struggle to deal with their grief, friends, neighbors and the community have stepped up to the plate.
“We’ve been so blessed with an outpouring of love,” Lori said.
The family also heard from Chuck’s employer, Lockheed Martin, that he would be exempt from the transfer announced Tuesday that employees working on the F-22 are being moved to Fort Worth, Texas.
“That’s just such a blessing,” Lori said.
They also learned Tuesday that their oldest daughter’s co-op program through Georgia Tech has been transferred from Wisconsin to Roswell.
Catherine, who is a sophomore engineering student, was set to leave in January.
“She just wasn’t going to go to Wisconsin,” Lori said. “We just want to keep our family together … and they just made it happen.”
The family hopes to continue to hear positive things.
“We would like to see something positive come from this tragedy,” Chuck said. “We hope that if people were moved and touched by Morgan, that it will flow through to the charity that we’ve set up as a memorial in her name.”
Donations can be made in her honor to the Stretch Mission in Costa Rica, which she was involved with through the Wheeler Leadership Club.
Donations are being handled by Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta at www.roswellstreet.com/online-giving.
Two Wheeler seniors, Sara Dada and Adam Aston, are also designing T-shirts with plans to sell them for additional donations to the cause.
Dada said she has been Morgan’s classmate since third grade and Aston’s since sixth grade.
“So many of us have been moved by Morgan that we are trying to raise money in her honor,” Dada said. “Morgan was such an absolutely amazing person. She was the type of person who you don’t really realize how brilliant and talented she is because she didn’t brag about it.”
The slogan on the shirts will read “Live, Love, Lide.” They are still working on details as to when the shirts will be sold and where.
Aston said he’ll always remember Morgan for her courage and humbleness.
“She was never afraid to meet new people,” he said. “She was never afraid to try something new, and I think we see that in her trying new extracurriculars like switching from saxophone in middle school to chorus in high school, like branching out to make new friends at Wheeler and traveling abroad.”
Morgan’s humbleness, he said, was out of respect for herself and others.
“She never felt like she needed to be praised,” he said. “She was comfortable with who she was and she was so bright and smart. She had a lot about her character.”
Lori said the family hasn’t made funeral arrangements yet but have been working with the Catholic Church of St. Ann’s in Marietta to confirm and date and time next week for a memorial service to honor their daughter.
Morgan’s body has not been returned to the states yet but it will be sent to Georgia after the host family holds a memorial for their daughter in Bali over the weekend.
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