For the Fourth

I am not a preacher. I am the daughter of a southern Baptist minister, but that is really another story for another therapist. Despite that pedigree and a proclivity for giving good advice, I don’t preach. I am human and flawed and ridiculous like the rest of you. I have done nothing so great that I deserve to preach.

But I have to say this so bear with me anyway.

If you follow me on the twitter, you know I spent the holiday weekend in my beloved hometown, leaving my best furry friend with my daddy, hanging out with my best friends, having drinks with the man I used to think I was going to marry. It was wonderful. I needed it so badly. I needed to hug my best friend and watch her face light up as she talked about her engagement. I needed to lie on my aunt’s couch and eat her potato salad, and hear my daddy say he desperately wants me to move back home. I needed to see my little brother’s handsome place, and look at his drawings in the appropriate awe that his talent deserves. By Sunday night I was exhausted, having not slept more than 4 hours at a time over as many days. But I was happy. A contentment I haven’t felt in a long time and didn’t realize I needed.

That all changed at about 5am on the 4th of July when a drunk driver barreled into my mom on her way back to my aunt’s house.

He ran a red light. Hit her head on. Had she not, in her own words, “stood straight up on her brakes”, he would have T’ed her. And probably flipped the SUV she was driving. He never hit his brakes. He plowed over the median and hit two more people before his car finally came to a stop, and he got out and ran.

This is what the car my mom was driving looks like now.

Everybody, every single person, walked out of that crash alive. My mom, who is sore from a previous back injury that is now even more aggravated, walked away with not a scratch on her. Not a single scratch.

When they eventually caught the driver, who’d fled down a dead end, and brought him to the hospital, he was so drunk he was incoherent. Didn’t know where he was. Didn’t remember hitting three people top speed. Didn’t know what kinda car he drove. Nothing. We would later find out he had three warrants out for his arrest, one of which was leaving the scene of an accident, and shouldn’t have been driving anyway. But that is an entirely different story.

Instead my story is this. I may be grown, but I am also living in a city completely isolated from my friends and family, with the exception of my mother. It is now, as it often was when I was growing up, my mother and I and then the world. And had he been less than 2 seconds later, had she been turning 2 seconds earlier, had she not stomped on her brakes, had he been going just a bit faster, he would have sent me back to Texas a motherless child.

All the little ways our lives have been uprooted and turned upside down since Monday at 5am are trivial. A nuisance, yes, to have to spend hours on the phone with police officers and insurance claims caseworkers and rental car company employees. And yes, my mother is terrified to drive, bursting into tears even on our drive back to Texas when she would see a guardrail out of the corner of her eye. But all these things are merely additions that create the sum of this entire situation: every time you drive drunk, you change someone’s life.

This life.

This life.

This one.

This life.

And this one.

Not to mention your own.

At the very least, this man has changed four lives: most importantly the three people that he hit, but he is the fourth. That is not even to count their families, our family, his family. That says nothing of whatever lasting damages that will linger, financially, emotionally, psychologically.

Is it worth it?

I am hardly going to tell you not to drink. I surely don’t intend to stop. But I am going to tell you to not get behind the wheel of a car. Stay where you are. Call a cab or a friend. Hell I have friends or connections in most major cities; I can find someone to come get you. Or at the very least, take a nap in your backseat, as I have had to do on occasion. I will not pretend that I will never again drink to the point of drunkenness or that sober living is the answer. But I will tell you to think. Think about the damage you could do. We are all interconnected, even if we are strangers. Think about how far and wide the ripples of your decision could reach. Is it worth it?

Please don’t have anyone go to sleep content and at peace and wake up a motherless child.

13 thoughts on “For the Fourth

  1. all i could think is how we had JUST talked about this at brunch. i mean, knowing how this story could have ended… i was surely about to literally run out of work when you called. i am so glad she made it out of that.


  2. Wow! Thank God for grace. Blessings to you and your family. I remember my mother had a head on accident when I was about 7. She was all busted up but she was able to walk away. We were halfway across the world from any family and it could have been tragic. Thank God for grace. He gave me my mother for another 15 years. I can relate. I've also had relatives who insisted on driving drunk. I refuse to do it. I hope others will also.


  3. Oh wow! So glad your mum is ok. I never understand why people think it's ok to drink and drive. I guess they don't realise-or don't care how their stupidity can impact the lives of others.


  4. I'm so glad your mother is okay; that whole situation is life-altering and extremely scary. The lack of personal accountability that some people have is frightening, sickening even.

    I lost an aunt at the hands of a drunk driver. She was taking her daily walk and never saw him coming. He had previous alcohol-related infractions on his record and got nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

    You're right — it's not worth it.


  5. My grandfather once said that it perfectly fine to have your personal addictions… as long as they don't affect the lives of anyone else. That is hardly ever the case, is it? And that was his point.

    This fellow has a problem. A bad one… and it has affected everyone.

    I've always thought it's not only the tragedy that's sad, it's the residual effects of the tragedy that's sad also.

    Glad Mom is alright. It will take her awhile to get past the thoughts of the accident, but she's here and alive… and that's what matters.


  6. ::applause::

    It's so easy to think you can make it “down the street” or be too whatever to call somebody, or just sit your ass down and sleep it off but I hope everyone who reads this takes it seriously. This isn't a game. These are lives.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s