Monday, January 23

A Very Important Message

The entire school was gathered in the carpeted amphitheatre of my junior high school.

Another boring assembly. Yay!

This wasn't a routine school assembly, we had a guest speaker.

Even better. 

Everyone loves hour long talks about drugs, drinking, sex or bullying from some random police officer or nurse.

After all the classes had been seated on the risers, the principal introduced the speaker. I wasn't paying attention.

The woman took the stage and began talking....

"Some of you may know me. I am Jennifer's mother."

(Jennifer was a student at the school. We had been good friends the year before.)

"I am here today to tell you a very difficult story.

Not long ago Jennifer's sister, Crystal, celebrated her 18th birthday. Several of us celebrated with Crystal at a pub near our house.

At the end of the night, Crystal got on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle and rode home. I got in my car with my boyfriend and drove home.

I don't remember anything after that.

I woke up in the hospital two days later.

The nurses told me that I had been in an accident. 

That I had hit a motorcycle.

That there was a girl on the motorcycle.

And that girl died."

It's been more than 15 years since that assembly but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I remember her talking about how she was so hysterical at the scene of the accident that night that the paramedics heavily sedated her and sent her to the hospital. She was medicated and on suicide watch for months after. She was never left alone and spent most of her time in therapy trying to do something with what she had done.

Trying to come to terms with something, she felt, she had no right to come to terms with.

I don't know why this stuck with me the way it did.

Drunk driving is nearing epidemic levels in the city I live in so, sadly, it seems like it would be easy to become desensitized to it.

And let's face it, adolescents don't listen for shit.

But I have never forgotten this story.

I think about it every time I hear a story on the news about a drunk driver.

Like this one.

Or this one

Or this one

That last one? 

My husband travels that highway frequently. One of his co-workers is on that highway pretty much every single day.

Needless to say that story hit close to home.

But all of them do.

I felt the torture and anguish in Crystal's Mom's voice. I still feel it today.

Every single person affected by drunk driving feels that.

And there is NO reason for it.

There is NO reason to get in your car and drive after you've had a few drinks. 

NONE whatsoever.

Call a cab.

Call a friend.

Sleep in your car.

Do ANYTHING but get behind the wheel and drive.

ANYTHING.

All of these 'accidents' were 150% PREVENTABLE.

NONE of those people had to die.

NONE of those families deserve to lose someone to something so senseless.

I beg all of you to think of these stories the next time you are considering getting in your car after imbibing.

Think about what that drive home is worth to you.

And please share this. 

I am just one person, with one tiny space on the internet.

Sometimes that's all it takes.

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