Traveling to Indonesia was just the beginning of what Morgan Lide had planned.
The 17-year-old Cobb County girl wanted to travel the world, learn another culture and later study international affairs. Morgan was a talented artist, and her spirit of adventure led her to give up her senior year at Wheeler High School, opting instead for a prestigious study abroad program.
But over the weekend, a knock on the door at her parents’ home in east Cobb brought worse news than the family could ever have imagined. Morgan had drowned off the coast of Bali while swimming at Kuta Beach.
A very good swimmer who had spent many summers on the swim team, Morgan was pulled under by a rip tide and her host family lost sight of her. She was later found on the shore, but could not be resuscitated by lifeguards.
Tuesday night, Morgan’s parents and sister spoke of Morgan’s legacy and passion for life, vowing that how she lived should serve as an inspiration to others.
“She wanted to travel,” her mom, Lori Lide, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She was looking for something to do for the summer.”
But when she learned of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad Program, her mind was made up. The program sends students from non-Muslim countries to Muslim areas, but Morgan didn’t care where she was going.
“She just said, ‘I just wanna go,’” Lori Lide said.
Morgan left in September and never looked back, her family said. She blogged about her experiences abroad, posting pictures of life with her host family.
“Life as I know it is about to end in just one day,” Morgan wrote in September. “Tomorrow morning I leave my family, friends and hometown, something that I should be completely overwhelmed by, but that somehow I feel strangely calm about.”
For her older sister Catherine, Morgan’s last day in Cobb County lives on in the form of dozens of pictures taken at the county fair. Catherine Lide, a mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech, said her sister wanted to go to Tech, too.
Morgan was an honor student in the math and science magnet program at Wheeler, her parents said. But she didn’t just excel at academics in high school.
“While she was there, she discovered she had a passion for art,” her mother said.
The “passion” for drawing, painting and sculpture led Morgan to be selected for the Governor’s Honor Program in art, an honor she had to pass on because of her plans to study abroad.
Since learning of Morgan’s death, her family said they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from neighbors, friends and classmates. Her father, Chuck Lide, said it was a small comfort to know how many lives his younger daughter touched.
The family requests that donations be made in Morgan’s honor to the Stretch Mission in Costa Rica, with which she was involved through the Leadership Club at Wheeler. Donations will be administered by Roswell Street Baptist Church at www.roswellstreet.com/online-giving.
A memorial service will be held Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. at the Catholic Church of Saint Ann on Roswell Road.