In honor of our younger brother, Chris, who was killed when an impaired driver crashed into the van Chris was driving. Today is Chris’s birthday. It has been nearly three years since he was stolen from us. He died on the 19th of November, 2016 and we have all been dealing with that tragic event to the best of our abilities since then.
Unlike death caused by natural causes, when a loved one is snatched in this way there is so much more anger and grief. Initially we were all in shock and as we gathered for his funeral the one question that could not be answered continued to reverberate, whether spoken aloud or not: Why? Why Chris? He was such a good person, quick to offer help to everyone, not only his family. The funeral itself revealed how wide spread his kindnesses ranged. People he had worked with over twenty years ago turned up to pay their respects. There were literally more people than we could count. It was a great comfort at such a hard time.
As we tried to pick up the pieces and carry on, we were all terribly worried about his children who were teenagers at the time. Memories return as I write this of our niece standing stoically at the graveside. Her brother at her side. Their strength was amazing, but their pain could not be hidden. They are still grappling with it.
I have written many posts about the tragedy and the long drawn out court case that followed. On the other side of the coin was a second family that was torn apart by this totally preventable and horrendous event: the family of the impaired driver. He was found guilty of impaired driving causing death. At the time of the “accident” he had just left a baby shower – his child would be born shortly before he was incarcerated. He would not be there for those precious formative years. That child would not know her father for many years. The mother of the child was forced to be a single parent. His parents and family members will carry the pain and the shame of knowing he killed a good man. The impaired driver was 38 years old, if memory serves. He will live out the rest of his days with this on his conscience. He wrote a statement which he read out in court on the day he was sentenced. In it he apologized to our family. I have to say it helped somewhat, but many are still struggling through the grief that hits again and again.
The number of people affected by this senseless tragedy is staggering. Our family alone is very large, add to it our extended family: aunts, uncles, cousins etc. Then there is the community of which Chris was an active part. The number of friends and coworkers, team mates, and more. I do not know a lot about the family and friends of the impaired driver, but will assume there are many. All of us impacted by one senseless and stupid decision.
And so, as I have many times, I implore readers to consider our story and the awful fallout that follows when a person drives impaired in any way and I say, please, don’t!