Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Should NEVER Happen

Tuesday morning, one of the boy's scout leaders lost his 19 year old son in a car accident. Hearing the news felt like a punch in the gut. Any parent, upon hearing such a thing, can't help but to feel it. Even just imagining what they are feeling is worse than anything any parent wants to feel.

And while it's always a surprise, when it's a kid who is responsible and good and hardworking, and who wasn't drinking, it's even moreso. That's how it was when our family went through the same thing.

I met mr b's sister before I met him. She told me all about her family and showed my photos of her kids. In the week that I got to know her before I met him, she already felt like family. So when I met her kids for the first time, I immediately loved them. her daughter (Scabs - I talk about her all the time here) was the same age as me and her son, Ricky, was a few years younger. I was taken by this kid right away. He was different from any 13 year old boy I had ever met. he was polite and respectful and he actually liked spending time with his mother and family.

He was smart and funny and a hard worker. He did well in everything he did. He was an amazing hockey player - even at a young age, he was being watched by scouts. He and a friend started a band and got themselves gigs immediately. When he was 15, he knew he wanted to have a truck when he was able to drive, so he got a job. He worked and saved every penny and by the time he turned 16, he had enough to buy a beautiful truck. Unfortunately, it was a manual transmission, which he hadn't learned to drive yet. I still laugh at the memory of him calling me and asking if I could go with him and his mom to drive the truck home (since his mom & sister didn't know how, either).

We brought the truck home that night and he asked if I would take him to the zoo parking lot & teach him to drive it (they lived just up the road). After eating dinner, I was tired, it was dark, and I really didn't feel like going, but he flashed me his beautiful eyes & smile and I couldn't resist. We headed out and in a very short time, he was able to drive. I am so glad I took him that night.

He loved that truck and he was increwdibly responsible with it. He took great care of it and never asked his mom for gas money - he earned it himself. He drove safely and he ALWAYS wore his seatbelt. Until the day he didn't. he wasn't driving that day, his friend was. We'll never know why he didn't buckle up. His friend was driving fast - not crazy fast, but too fast for the curvy neighborhood road they were on - I don't think it was intentional, but a common new-driver's mistake. And when they lost control, his friend got banged around a little. but Ricky was thrown from the car. He landed in someone's front yard and that's where the beautiful light behind those beautiful eyes went out. That's when the light behind his mother's eyes went out.

I still remember the call. I was at work & my roommate called to say that my sisters-in-law had been calling all morning and that it sounded urgent. I immediately thought about mr b's aging mother - she hadn't been well. But I called sister after sister and no one was home. I finally reached one SIL's husband and I can still remember what he said word-for-word. I can still - 19 1/2 years later - "Oh man - I hate to be the one to tell you this, but there was a car accident and appretnly little Ricky was killed." I still remember the inhuman sound that came out of me. I remember falling to the ground. I don't remember going home - I know someone drove me, but I don't remember who. And worst of all, I remember having to tell mr b. He didn't want to believe it. No one did, but it was true.

The next week was a blur. It was the worst week of all of our lives. Because we never thought it could happen to us. Especially not to him. He was smart and kind and good and most of all - responsible. Just like the 19 year old who it happened to on Tuesday. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt either.

There's nothing anyone can do or say to make sense of this. All I can do is keep trying to instill the importance of wearing a seatbelt to my kids. They get sick of it. I hear "I know, Mom!" again and again. But they don't know. They don't know what it feels like for a parent to have their heart ripped from their body - to lose their will to live. But I have seen it firsthand - people I know and care about have lived it. So I keep telling my kids over and over until I'm blue in the face. I'll tell your kids, too. And another kids in earshot. Don't assume because your kid is responsible when you are around that they are always that way. Drive them crazy if you have to. Because crazy and alive is OK.

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Scott Beveridge said...

You can imagine the tragedy I have witnessed in 25 years in the newspaper business. The bulk of it could have been avoided with a seat belt or smoke alarm.

bluzdude said...

I can see parents sending a link to this post to all their teenage kids. It's a Must Read.

Michael said...

Beautifully written....I lost a brother 17 years ago who was murdered in his own home...that pain never goes away,you just try and make his life and memory count for something...

AmyLK said...

No parent should have to bury their child. Its not the way things should are meant to be.