Clif Williams is still learning how to live without his best friend.
His only granddaughter, Abigail Williams and her friend, Liberty German, were murdered while hiking along the Monon High Bridge Trail on February 13, 2017.
It’s a day Clif will never forget.
“Abby’s missing. I didn’t know what to do. I had just gotten out of the shower and I was headed for work,” said Clif.
“I hadn’t even unpacked from the weekend before,” said Clif. “So, I just threw some clothes in, grabbed my bag and headed for Delphi.”
He joined the search for Abby – and then the unthinkable.
“Yea, that was a rough day,” he said.
Libby and Abby’s bodies were found on February 14.
“To lose her was not even on the radar,” said Clif. “You never thought of anything like that and now to have this happen, I still don’t know how to live without her.”
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Last Memories with Abby
Clif saw his granddaughter for the final time the weekend before her death.
Abby had decided she wanted to play softball with Libby and she needed grandpa to take her shopping for new gear.
“She called early in the week and said ‘Grandpa, I’m all signed up for the girls’ softball. I’d like you to come down and take me shopping for a glove and a bat and shoes,'” Cliff said.
He drove from his Michigan home to Delphi and the two of them spent the weekend shopping, laughing and making memories.
“It was so warm down here. We got back to the hotel and we played catch out in the parking lot with her new glove,” said Clif. “Then we went to the park and I got to pitch to her – hit some flies – the whole grandpa thing.”
Abby had never played softball before - she was a volleyball player and in band - but softball was going to be a new adventure.
Clif still remembers the last bit of advice he gave Abby.
“You got to work hard, practice. You may not get to play a lot but just be part of it and work at it and you’ll get it,” said Clif. “That’s how we left it. She was so excited to be on a team with Libby.”
Summers with Grandpa
If you ask Clif what his favorite memories are, they include things like horseback riding, movie theaters, the mall and Andy Griffith.
All of them include his granddaughter Abby.
“She was just an awesome kid to be around,” said Clif. “Spoiled, I think that word was used sometimes.”
Vacation for Clif meant making the hours-long drive to see Abby.
“I called them little mini-vacations,” said Clif. “That was my vacation too. I wouldn’t take vacation other than that.”
They shared a love for Andy Griffith – so much that Clif bought Abby a TV for her room just so she could watch it.
Every year around the Fourth of July, Abby would spend two weeks in Michigan.
One week would be spent at the church camp her mother attended as a child.
The other week she would spend with her grandpa Clif.
During those visits, Abby and her grandpa would go see the fireworks and a parade in Grand Rapids and they would always make time for horseback riding at the Double J Ranch.
“We would go up for a morning - go for an hour ride - then we’d go back to the hotel swim and do dinner and then the next morning we’d go up and do another hour ride,” said Clif. “I didn’t grow up on a farm or nothing, but I loved it. Anything she liked, I seemed to like.”
One Day at a Time
Clif says Abby is with him in everything he does, and that keeps him going each day – along with the support of his amazing co-workers.
“The people I work with scooped me up – and we made it,” Clif said. “One day at a time.”
This past summer was one of the hardest for Clif because his best friend wasn’t there to go horseback riding with him.
But instead of sitting home, Clif made the trip to Double J Ranch with her mother, Anna Williams, so they could honor Abby’s memory.
They spent an hour on the trails accompanied by a rider-less horse that was draped with a wreath designed in Abby and Libby’s favorite colors – purple and teal.
“It was hard,” said Clif. “That was the hardest thing this summer.”
But it’s those special memories Clif made with Abby in her 13 short years that have kept him moving forward.
Although he wants Abby’s killer to be caught, justice isn’t something on Clif’s mind. He’d rather focus on remembering and celebrating his granddaughter’s life and the time he had with her while she was here.
“I learned early on when I was processing this that I can’t wait for him to get caught to feel better because that's never going to happen. My heart’s broken and if they catch him tomorrow, my heart’s still broken. If he’s off the street he’s not going to do this to someone else’s family – but I can’t wait for that to happen," said Cliff.