Friday, December 13, 2013
A life-saving lesson learned at 17
This is a follow up to my last blog about the teenager who sat in on one of the Victim Impact Panels after he had a minor drunk driving crash. His parent shared this with me:
"I think I told you that an off duty officer stopped to help A. Part of A.'s punishment was that he had to write to the officer and tell him what he had learned from the experience. A. gave me the letter he wrote today and I thought I'd share it with you. A. didn't use any names but it was obvious that out of all the people he heard you and Dustin are the two that stuck in his mind. It is rather blunt, I hope that it does not hurt you to read how he worded it. I just think it's important that you realize the impact you and Dustin truly made on him. If you can leave this impression on a 17 year old boy imagine the impression you can make with an adult.
"I'm really sorry for doing what I did. I've realized that driving intoxicated is very dangerous to myself and more importantly to others. I was lucky, I could of killed or injured myself or worse, I could of killed or injured someone else.
"Going to that class I saw a kid's mom up there talking about how their kid died by a drunk driver, she brought her son in a box and told her story about her son. When I saw the box and saw the lady's face I thought that could have been me that put someone's kid in a box.
"It could have been me that's causing someone's family so much pain.
"I'm sorry for what I did and I'm sorry to all of the mother's and families that had to go through that. All I can say is that I give you my word I'll never do a stupid and reckless thing like that again. I would never wanna be that person that took someone else's kid's life or anyone's. I don't think I could live with myself knowing I took someone else's life away.
"I'd like to thank you for giving me a 2nd chance.
A. is an example to us all. We can be open to admitting that bad things happen because of poor decisions, that we ourselves have made poor decisions that could have ended very badly, and that we can make a firm decision to stop doing those things again.
I really believe that most of us engage in "it won't happen to me" and "it's too horrible to think about so I'm not going to" thinking. That allows us to remain in our protective little bubble of denial about how we may be endangering ourselves or others and keeps us from even considering that we might need to change what we do. We all do it. I did it. Sometimes I still catch myself doing stupid, dangerous stuff on the road. But not nearly as much...
The tens of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries annually due to inattentive and just plain selfish driving behaviors do not have to be the cost of the convenience of driving. But we talk ourselves into believing it because it's easier than changing. Make the change. Could you live with yourself knowing you took someone else's life away, like A. said?