by: Alexander Derencz, WBMA staff
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala (WBMA) - A reminder of a promise sits on Melinda Estes' left ring finger. Estes and Corey Chapman were supposed to be together, forever. On Sunday the pair went ring shopping for an upgrade to an engagement ring. However before they found the perfect fit, Chapman lost his life when his car hit another head-on after crossing the center line along Eastern Valley Road in west Jefferson County.
Her ring now serves another purpose: a promise to stay strong.
"He would want us to celebrate his life and reach as many people as he can," Estes said. "For those of us who knew him and knew what he was going through...reach as many people as we can. He would tell us to breathe and that it is going to be ok, that he is ok, his soul was saved, and that he would see us again."
Estes said Monday started off like any other day, but that completely changed when she got a phone call about an accident. She drove down Eastern Valley Road and saw numerous sheriff's vehicles passing by. Estes prayed for the victim, not knowing at the time it was her fiancé-to-be. She turned back around and noticed more commotion. Again, she did not think it was him, so she kept going. Eventually, she went back to her brother's house to see if any local hospitals had information, but her trips were fruitless.
When she went back to scene, her worst fears came true.
"I didn't know what to do," Estes said. "I got kicked in the gut. That kick is still there. I just fell to the floor. This can't be real."
Estes said Chapman loved everyone and would help anyone who was in need. She added that he worked day and night to provide for his family. Above all else, Estes said Chapman loved his son, Rush, who was named that because he said his son was an adventure.
"Corey's biggest fear was that he would not be around for his son," Estes said. "So, I know now more than ever he is with that boy. That was his fear. That is why this was not supposed to happen."
Estes has countless memories to hold onto, especially the last text message she got from Chapman saying that he loved her, and she knows they will see each other once again.
"The day I see him again at Heaven's gates, I am going to scream so hard at him," Estes said. "You are going to hear Corey Chapman through the entire Heavens, and he is going to find me. We knew we would meet up again someday."