I know I’m not the first person that this has ever happened to, or the first person who's ever gotten behind the wheel with a couple of drinks under her belt. Do we think about the possibilities of what could happen by drinking and driving? Of course not; it’s just whatever, and we go with what's going on at the moment. Should we think about the possibilities of what could happen? Of course we should! You never know just whose life may be affected by that one decision.
My freshman year of college we were asked to write an essay about something that has affected our lives, whether in a negative or positive way. We just needed to write. Being the procrastinator that I am, I waited until the night before it was due to start thinking about something that has affected my life, and now I want to share it with all of you:
I sit here motionless, surrounded by busyness on all sides. I can hear a woman singing "Amazing Grace" through the sounds; her angelic voice seems to be forever heard. The tears beginning to dry like a river blocked by a dam. It had been a horrific week, and all I can say is, "Why us?" I find myself looking back upon the events that had occurred and this is what happened.
It had all started off as a normal day. My mother stood at the stove making pancakes — you could smell them burning all throughout the entire house. She was a gentle woman, in her early 20s, her goldish brown hair bouncing on her shoulders as she tried ever so hard to flip a pancake before it started to burn. Dad was always at the kitchen table, with the daily newspaper in hand. His concentration was so intense no outside noise could penetrate the forcefield it seemed he had placed around himself. He was a regal man, his upright posture and piercing eyes adding to his stiffness. I could always tell when I was in trouble, he would give me a look that would send chills through my spine and make even the smallest of my hairs stand on end.
After we had all finished breakfast we began to head out for our daily tasks. My mom took me to school where I would stay the rest of the day, after which she would come home and clean all the messes I had made. Dad was off to the hospital, where he worked as a neurosurgeon. Work was my dad's pride and joy; he had become very successful and was one of the top surgeons in the country. Every day near 2 o'clock, my mom would meet my dad at a small bistro across the street from the hospital. They loved going there; they always said it reminded them of Italy, which is where he proposed to her. Little did my mom know, she would be having lunch alone that day.
My mom's promptness always resulted in her getting there first. She would always sit at the same table, right near the window facing the hospital. She loved watching him walk across the street and seeing the love of her life approaching. As much as she enjoyed sitting there, smelling the delicious bread being made, she was ready to see him. So she sat. And sat. And sat. Until it had finally reached 3 o'clock, her patience dwindling with every "tick" of her watch.
Finally, she walked to the hospital, up to the third floor nurses' station and asked the nurse there to page Dr. Barnett. The nurse looked at my mother and said, "I'm sorry. Dr. Barnett didn't come in today." Puzzled, she walked away to go call him. No answer. She decided to call his mother to see if maybe she had heard from him. No answer.
Her stomach began to do somersaults as she called her sister-in-law. Finally, someone answered. All that could be heard was a woman weeping. My mom kept asking, "What’s wrong" and "What happened?" The woman on the phone was crying so hard my mom could hardly understand anything coming out of her mouth, through all the sobbing all she could make out was "drunk driver" and "hit him." "He's dead."
The phone closed shut and she dropped to her knees. Her tears began to rush down her face like a rapid rushing river. Her worst fear was coming true; her world was crashing down around her. When she came to pick me up that day, I knew something was wrong. I could tell she had been crying from the mascara marks still left on her face. She hugged me, and said, "Dad's dead." I didn't know whether I should believe her or not; I couldn't believe her; I didn't want to believe her, but I knew it had really happened. And through my tears all I could say was, "Why us?"
As I sit here motionless at the funeral of my dead father, I'm still not able to come to terms with the fact that he is gone. I sit, staring at the red velvet lining of the coffin that is now holding him. My body hurts, my tears are all drained out, and my mind is emotion-filled. But all I can feel is anger, an emotion I know will live with me the rest of my life.
I believe in some way we all have been affected by alcohol and the choices that are made while drinking it. But we have the power to change that! We have the power to not allow it to harm ourselves or harm someone else. As we enter this holiday season, I hope we all can just think about the actions we choose and think about the possibilities of what could happen.
I know I am going to look after my friends, and if that means no drinking for me, then so be it. For I know in the long run it will all be worth it; someone’s life will not be affected by drinking like mine has. Happy holidays, everyone, may they be filled with peace, love, joy, and, most of all, safety.