“I had talked to her an hour before class and she was fine,” said her mother Kelly O’Brien, who is married to John O’Brien.
Darby was taken to the school clinic and life-flighted to a hospital in Columbus.
“Within 45 minutes, she had just slipped away,” O’Brien said.
At just 18 years old, Darby died on Nov. 16, 2012 from cerebral arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection of the arteries and veins in the brain that caused a rupture.
“When a child dies it just rocks people’s world. It’s not supposed to happen this way,” O’Brien said.
The O’Brien’s firm foundation in God brings comfort.
“As a mother or father I don’t know how we could have handled this without our strong faith,” she said.
The O’Briens passed on God’s guarantee to Darby.
“Darby grew up in the church and was involved in the church family. It’s our job to prepare our children and prepare their hearts to be right with God,” O’Brien said.
The O’Briens are residents of Greer, S.C., but they lived in Marietta for 20 years until 2005. Darby and her siblings Delaney, 16, Brooks, 14, and Brody, 11, all attended preschool at First Presbyterian Church of Marietta where they were members. Darby also attended Cheatham Hill Elementary, Due West Elementary and Bullard Elementary Schools and Lost Mountain Middle School.
“Knowing that right when she died she went straight to heaven and is in the most glorious place and full of joy and whole and new to me is my comfort,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien described Darby as a person of quiet faith. She had been active in Young Life and FCA in high school. She served as a pre-school Sunday school teacher and participated in several mission trips. Darby, who pledged Kappa Delta sorority, had found a church in Auburn and was looking into Quest to be a Young Life leader.
“(Darby) lived a good life and witnessed by being who she was — the sweet, kind and caring person and God was her focus,” O’Brien said.
Darby’s memory continues to influence those around her.
“(Darby) reminds these kids they aren’t guaranteed another day. There are so many who are young and immature in their faith. If it takes something as tragic as this to get them to start following God, then there is good in it,” she said.
“The good that has come about through Darby’s death is the people that have come to faith. There have been many blessings through her death and God being glorified — who she’s reaching now through her death is ten-fold,” O’Brien said.
The Darby O’Brien Charity Foundation was started in Darby’s memory by the family to support her favorite charities: Young Life, FCA, Kappa Delta Sorority Philanthropy to prevent child abuse, and mission trips for Grace Church, Pelham Road, Greenville, S.C. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank, account 1867163865.