Years ago, on Christmas day in 2008, I wrote an explanation of sorts as to why I felt compelled to share our story. A year later, I revisited those words to see if I still felt the same way. It occurred to me recently that I hadn’t thought about it in a while, and I wondered if those words held true for me now.
They do, and then some…
Initially, we wanted to help others understand what it’s like to be one of us… Later on, we realized how important it was to do whatever we could to prevent our tragedy from happening again…
We still try to live this life to the best of our ability, making the most of what we have been given. We continuously strive to make peace with our new ‘normal’… The voyage through the valley of shadows and sorrow marches on; some days are way better than others…but all are far better than any from the start. Knowing we are doing something about distracted driving-walking the talk-helps us to keep pressing on… Faith and hope, family and friends, forgiveness and love have formed the foundation of our survival thus far, as they surely will going forward, until that sweet day when we’re finally called home…
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If you care to read it, here is the original post from December 25, 2008:
Today I would like to pause for a moment in sharing our story to thank each of you for your comments, support and encouragement, and to offer a brief explanation as to why I am trying to do this…
If I have learned anything since June 12, 2008, it is to try and make the most of every opportunity that I am given in this life. This can be as simple as opening the door for someone else, allowing a car into traffic, or singing along with the radio. While I fail to do it more often than not, the lesson is something I try to live by.
On that ordinary summer day, without warning, our family was suddenly, irrevocably shattered. Our son, Brian, died in a three car accident around lunchtime in Pineville.
You never think that something like this can happen to you. Not to your family. This is something that happens to someone else, some stranger. You feel sorry for them, for their loss; maybe you say a prayer, maybe even two-one for their family, another for the blessed safety of your own. In this way, we are very much like our teenagers: ignore the possibilities; our family is invincible, nothing bad can happen to us. Bad things can and do happen; I am living out every mother’s greatest fear and worst nightmare. The fact that I am not the only one to join this tragic fellowship this summer is of no comfort to me; my heart aches on their behalf, for we are kindred spirits, forged through a common, unwanted bond of pain.
I feel compelled to share our journey for many different reasons. Others have been down this road before us; without a doubt, more will come after. The walk through this valley of shadows and sorrow is different for each of us, and yet it is the same. John is withdrawn; he is preoccupied with punishing himself for what he did not prevent and for what he is now helpless to change. Beth’s silent fury at the unfairness of our situation endures; she is questioning why him and not her, and furthermore why her brother, her family? Grace keeps running away from the truth; she refuses to accept that Brian won’t be home later, and keeps waiting, desperate to prove to the world that this was all a big misunderstanding. I keep dancing around the jagged edges of what remains, changing to suit the greatest need of the moment, clinging to my faith and hope, praying for strength to endure for a little while longer. The fact of the matter is this: grief is grief, no matter the circumstances. It is hard; it hurts, and it overwhelms us without warning. It is a unique, individual experience. There are different stages in the process, and there is no universal guidebook, roadmap or owner’s manual. The only way through it, is simply that-through it.
Many people have said to me “I simply cannot imagine what you are going through”. My response is always the same: please, don’t even try. I hope that the telling of our tale will allow you a glimpse into the valley, without burdening you with too much of our pain. I hope that in our story you can find something to encourage you, help you, to give you strength to face whatever challenge is before you at this moment. My greatest wish, however, is that you are reminded that life is very precious, and that there are no guarantees…so be sure that the people you love know it, just in case….on some ordinary day…the unthinkable happens to you.