My thanks to Kate Kerrigan for sharing space on the Drug-Free Coalition blog with me this month. December is Impaired Driving Prevention month, and that is a cause that is close to my heart after having two of our children, Claire and Nathan, killed by a drunk driver 7 years ago.
The holiday season can be extraordinarily difficult for families who have lost loved ones. Even a simple thing like sending Christmas cards with a family photo is a painful reminder that our family is not all there. Boxes of Christmas decorations are filled with ornaments made by or purchased for each of our children over the years, with the plan that someday they will be used to decorate a tree of their own. We tried to find an ornament that meant something special to each child that year, such as a small oboe for Claire the year she started playing in her school band. Their favorite cookies, the stockings with their names sewn across the top--each brings to mind a memory of our kids that is precious. As the years have passed, we have found new traditions and ways to celebrate the holidays with our surviving son. We buy gifts for a boy and a girl in the community who we do not know in honor of our kids. Seven years later, the pain of missing them is not so overwhelming as it once was, although it still comes. Now, it seems the pain is also precious to us, because it reminds us how much we love them, and time does not change that.
I realize that our grief is not unique to victims of drunk driving accidents, and my heart aches for each person who is grieving a family member this year. Impaired driving deaths, however, are unnecessary and preventable--there is really no good reason that we should have to endure this loss except for someone's bad decision to get in a truck and drive after drinking heavily.
Many Christmas and New Year's parties include beer, wine, eggnog, and other alcoholic drinks as part of the special celebration. Please be alert and aware of the condition of those around you as you celebrate. There are many good options in addition to driving for people who are impaired--help them find one of them.
One new tradition that my husband and I have is attending the Candlelight Memorial Service, sponsored by MADD, to remember victims of impaired driving wrecks. All friends, families, and community members are invited to join us on Tuesday, December 11, at 7 p.m. in the Depot Room at Riehle Plaza train station for this special time of remembering.
To download a printable flyer for this event, click here.