Stephanie Quayle was in love. The beautiful blonde with the wild heart had finally found a man she trusted and adored, a man with a larger-than-life personality, a man she could easily see spending the rest of her life with.
But then, the phone rang.
"We only knew that there had been an accident," Quayle, now 43, recalls during a recent interview with PEOPLE about the devastating news she received back in January of 2009. "We didn't know he was gone until we were trying to run onto the runway and a policeman stopped us and wouldn't let us get any further." She pauses. "It was just the most tragic of circumstances."
Quayle's boyfriend of four years had been killed in a plane crash, in a plane that he was piloting, while sitting alongside a male passenger that Quayle did not know. And in the days that followed his death, Quayle would come to find that there were other women in her boyfriend's life, many of whom she met at the memorial service.
But through it all, the singer/songwriter never said a word about the painful circumstances surrounding her boyfriend's life and death. She went on to make a country music career out of standout radio singles "Whatcha Drinkin 'Bout" and "Selfish," but remained committed to doing everything in her power to protect her late boyfriend's daughter Eden, who was just 12 years old at the time of her father's death.
But then, the phone rang yet again.
And this time, it was Eden.
"She asked if I would do an interview with her for her college thesis," remembers Quayle of the phone call she received in April of 2021. "Eden had grown into an incredible artist, and she just shared on that phone call that she was no longer going to guard these secrets [about her dad] anymore. She was choosing to heal those old wounds through her painting."
And suddenly, Quayle began to wonder if music would provide a way to her own healing journey.
"All of these lyrics and melodies and thoughts that I had kept inside me for 12 years just washed over me," she says of the cathartic cleansing that resulted in the writing of her most recent album On the Edge, a beautiful mixture of sheer sonic emotion produced by Paul Moak that Quayle created at her home in Montana.
"I had my husband David listen to them," Quayle recalls. "He too felt that it was important to share this story."
These songs now also find a home on an emotional short film project also titled On the Edge, premiering exclusively on PEOPLE.
"It's a very docile version of everything," Quayle says of the cinematic piece produced by Camille Bostick and directed by Rachel Deeb. "It was a way to conceptualize and create something that could continue the story as we continue the discovery."
Quayle stops to draw in a deep breath.
"I'm still discovering who might have been there before me," she says quietly. "Or, during me. I very well could be the other woman to another woman. I don't know."
Nevertheless, Quayle says that the short film had her not only facing the pain of that agonizing time, but also finding a way to continue her own healing.
"There was a time when I felt like I was wearing 20 really heavy wet coats, but not anymore," she states. "As I shed these layers and I get lighter, I also just feel the potency of my purpose. I feel as if, for whatever reason, I'm supposed to expose the truth so that others can also find their way through."
And yes, Quayle says that this past Saturday, on the 14th anniversary of his death, she did something she never thought possible.
"I forgave him," she says.