“…because you don’t want this to be the last picture of your child, or anyone else’s, and know that it was totally 100% preventable.” (Click to picture of Dustin in his casket).
This is how I end my presentations at the various DUII and High Risk Driver classes I speak for, when I’m encouraging everyone to drive more safely and to think of others. (Remember: Everyone on the road is someone’s child).
I thought long and hard about whether I should use this picture or not, with my first consideration being, How would Dustin feel about it? Would he want a picture like that of himself seen? I decided that a few years ago he probably wouldn’t have but that in the last year or so of his life he’d ponder it for just a few seconds and then say “Go for it, Mom. Anything that’ll work.” He wanted results in his own endeavors and I know that he would encourage me to do what it takes to get the results I’m aiming for. I’m sure he would say, “Why would I care anymore?” (Sad feelings for me now).
Another consideration was whether this picture would actually get the results I want. Is it too much? Would I offend people? Anyone who was able to attend the viewing of Dustin before he was cremated knows that he was in amazingly good shape (at least what we could see of him) for what had happened to him. He was beautiful and intact and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say he looked peaceful, at least he didn’t look like he wasn’t peaceful. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the picture isn’t offensive or gruesome other than the fact that any picture of a dead young man killed in the prime of his life is offensive and gruesome.
I’m not posting the picture here. Or anywhere on the internet. When I show it on the big screen in class, I have total control over who sees it and why and for how long. It’s up for maybe 10 seconds before I move on to one of my favorite pictures of Dustin, the one he asked us to take at Lower Falls Campground on July 31, 2011, the last time we saw him. He was hoping for a good facebook profile picture. I like to think he would have been pleased.
(This is the first in a series of blogs about speaking publicly about the tragedy of Dustin’s death and the devastating sadness felt by his mother.)