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.
|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.