It’s an old cliché but true: life takes us unexpected places. Some welcome, some not. I think I will like this new part, this writing part, of the unexpected path my life has taken in the past 13 months. If only it hadn’t taken my child dying to get me here. Because frankly, I’d rather still not be writing and have him back. I’d rather still be ignorant in ways I am no longer ignorant and have him alive.
|July 31, 2011 at Lower Falls Campground on the Lewis River. This is the last picture we took of Dustin. He was killed 12 days later.|
Dustin was 28 years old when his life was violently ended by a drunk driver. He was not the driver’s only victim at the crash scene. A teenager, Kevin, was also struck. Kevin was knocked down, thankfully suffering just minor physical injuries. Kevin was the one who experienced Dustin flying past him, he was the one who witnessed Dustin’s death, the one who had to see the aftermath: the bruised and bloody and broken body of a young man he’d never known. And Kevin understood that it could have been him.
I am so glad that Kevin had no real physical injuries to go with the emotional scars and wounds that he may have for the rest of his life because of the selfish and self-centered actions taken by a young man who not only killed one person and injured another, but then left them both behind on the roadway like garbage.
Hit-and-run: a selfish crime of immorality. I’m not going to get into it much right now, but it hurts to know that Dustin was left dead on the road, that the person who killed him had no concern for him whatsoever. The 18 year old driver didn’t know what condition Dustin was in. He didn’t know what condition Kevin was in. He didn’t care to find out. He didn’t care that Kevin had to see the damage he had done while he himself was spared that horror.
|The large green outline was where Dustin hit the ground 80 feet from impact. He slid another 95 feet to just past where the people are.|
He didn’t even have to see what I saw the next day when I went to the crime scene: the paint marks indicating various aspects of the crash, green for Dustin and orange for Kevin; the remains of the pool of blood where Dustin first hit the ground; tufts of Dustin’s hair mixed in with the filth along the curb where he came to rest; minuscule remnants of bikes strewn along the road. He didn’t see the sign suspended over the crash site that read: Portland Safety Corridor. Hang up and drive (it didn’t matter to me that it didn’t say Don’t drink and drive; it was still a reminder to drive safely. A reminder that meant nothing and made no difference).
Ashawntae Rosemon fled the scene of the crime and in doing so avoided seeing and experiencing the physical result of what he did. He should have seen it. He deserved to see it. He deserves to still see it in his mind’s eye whenever he thinks about what he did. I thought briefly just now that perhaps what he imagines is worse than what he would have seen (you know how we can make something worse in our minds than it really is), but could he really imagine worse than what actually was? He did kill someone, after all. Violently. Senselessly. Recklessly.
So, it feels good to get this stuff out in writing, though I resist using the term “good” in any context having to do with the loss of Dustin. But I love to write, always have, although I always thought I’d write about love or domestic violence or nature… not my personal thoughts surrounding the death of the first greatest love of my life. No one should have to write about the death of their child. It’s just not supposed to be this way.