Every 15 minutes someone dies in an alcohol related crash. Today you died…
This is how it began… how I had to commence writing THE most difficult letter I have ever written… and it was addressed to my daughter, Sydney.
I put it off until the very last minute. I should have, probably, had it written and sent back into the school prior to this point, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. Not that I thought it unimportant, and not that I wanted to dismiss this task, but rather I didn’t want to allow myself to feel the emotions that would accompany such an assignment. And, for the record… the emotions were all kinds of overwhelming!
(Let me just take a minute, and allow you to grab a tissue or two. Go ahead… you will thank me later. The images you are about to see are very specific to this particular ‘education’, and may cause some tears. The letters you will read will definitely bring them on… this is just a warning. Proceed with caution.)
Today started the way another day would. Crawl slowly out of bed. Take meds, reluctantly. Wake Max… twice. Turn Syd’s fan off… she is cold by the time the morning comes.
Eat. Take Max to school. Come home. See Syd. Hug her while tearing up… to which she responds, “Mom… stop crying. This is supposed to be like every other day.” But it’s not. And, then, I remember seeing the fire truck heading toward the school on my way home from dropping Max off.
And so… it begins.
I wish my baby girl a blessed day, and crawl back into bed to catch a few more winks before it’s reallytime to begin the day. And when I wake again… and have a cup of coffee… and sit down to teach Nic… I get the following:
There has been a terrible accident in front of the high school… an alcohol related accident. There were several severe injuries…
One taken in an ambulance to a local hospital… and one life-flighted out.
And then… there remains…
The driver of the ‘other’ car wasn’t injured, and he is the one who had been drinking.
Praise the Lord that this was all dramatized and staged for educational purposes. Thank God we did not have to really witness the ending of these students’ lives.
But the lesson is not yet over…
You see, while the accident is being contained, and viewed by the student body, parents have been notified. They are on the scene, and having to watch as the paramedics work on their children. And the young man who was driving while impaired… he went to jail.
Also on sight, were the walking dead. These students represent the number of people who are killed in an alcohol-related accident EVERY 15 MINUTES.
The clearing of the accident off of the road was definitely not the end of the campaign. Every 15 Minutes the Grim Reaper went into a classroom and pulled out its next victim.
During this time… Sydney died. And she became part of the walking dead. She attended her classes… silently, without a response to anything that was said to her, or done. She was there as a physical reminder of what Every 15 Minutes truly means.
And these students were affected by this. They sent me texts today, and posted on social networks how terrible their lives would be without their friends in it. They were truly saddened by it all!
And you think this would be enough… but no, no, friends.
Once the school day was over, the walking dead headed over to a local facility for a retreat. Through the duration, they will not have any contact with anybody. Dead people don’t text/tweet/message/facebook/skype/facetime, so that’s out. Cut off from all friends and family, these students will learn how their parents feel about their untimely deaths… through letters written directly to them. (It’s hanky time, folks.)
Every 15 minutes someone dies in a drunk driving crash. Today you died!
I just wanted you to know how much I am going to miss you so I decided to write you a letter. I just realized this is only the second letter I’ve written to you. I’m sure you remember the first one, I wrote it when you were five months old so that you could read it when you got older and would know how proud I was to be your dad and how blessed we were that God would choose to give us such a wonderful gift. I promised you I would be there for you every step of the way so that if you ever needed to talk I would listen, if you ever needed to cry you could use my shoulder, but I never dreamed I would be here when you died. I’m so sad, my heart is broken and I will miss you so much! I want you to know you turned out to be all I had been dreaming of when I wrote you that letter almost 17 years ago. I’m very proud of you! I’m proud of the beautiful young lady you became and what a kind and giving person you were. I will always cherish the time we spent together and I will never forget you! I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you when you needed me most. Today I plan to cry. Tomorrow I plan to smile! I will be smiling knowing you have gone home to be with God to walk the streets of gold and take on your new role. You see the only way I can imagine you being taken from me would have to be because God really needed a “Leading Angel”. An angel that would be able to do his work, go to places with the most need, and touch the lives of people as you have touched mine and all those who were so lucky to have known you. I will be speaking to you every night before I go to bed so if you have a chance look in on us every once in a while. I promise I will take care of your mom, Max, and Nic so don’t worry about them. I love you so much! Many hugs and kisses!
Every 15 minutes, someone dies in a drunk driving crash. Today you died… a victim of someone else’s choice… and two days before your 17th birthday. How in the world am I supposed to go on without you?!
You are the one that made me a ‘Momma’, which was your first word, by the way. You came into this world so very loved… I cannot even begin to describe to you the joy you have brought to my heart. I am so very honored to have been given the chance to be your Mom. And I have to tell you… this is THE hardest thing I have ever had to do.
The first time I heard you cry, my heart melted. At your first word, I rejoiced. And the first time I heard you laugh… well, that was just it! There was no better sound in all of the land! I can hear it now… and see your little chubby cheeks puff up… and the way your face would just light up with a good belly laugh. I can think of nothing better!
When Max was born… oh how you loved him. You held his little, tiny body, and patted him on the head like a dog. It was so cute. You were so proud to be a big sister. And then Nic came… and you were so mad that he was a boy. You so desperately wanted to have a little sister. Even at that, you loved them… and loved them dearly.
My precious Foof…
You have made my life so much sweeter, and I have been blessed by you every single day of my life. I’m having a hard time believing I’m not going to be able to see you hit that milestone birthday… 18. No graduation. No heading off to college.
I had envisioned you walking down the isle … being in love, and starting a new life all your own. And having children… oh, Syd, you would have been a phenomenal Momma. Your heart is as big as the universe! Your love for others is beyond anything that could be imagined, and you care so deeply for those around you.
My heart is saddened today. It’s a pain I cannot even begin to describe. Please know that I loved, and still love you with all of my heart and soul. I am very proud of the young woman you had become, and could not have asked for anything better in my life.
I love you, baby… to the moon and back.
To round out the program, Chris and I, along with the other parents, and student body will attend a funeral for the victims of alcohol-related accidents. Yes… you read that right.
We are going to our daughters funeral tomorrow morning.
What a somber day it will be.
* Photo props to BG, PM, and BC
* My hope and prayer is that this program, the Every 15 Minutes Campaign, will encourage, inspire, and make knowledgeable those who bear witness to its cause. What a remarkable program, set forth by a great sponsor, and implemented so very well by the students of BHS. Every other school year, Bixby has the honor of hosting this campaign for its student body, and it is done so the week leading up to the PROM.
I want to encourage you today… If you are interested, or would like more information, please visit this website for more information. You will be doing your students, parents, and community a great justice in bringing this campaign to your area.
* Check back tomorrow for the final Every 15 Minutes blog post… the Funeral.
(You can now view part two… the Finale… here.)