This week was MADD’s annual Red Ribbon Week. A time when the organization reaches out to schools to educate children on the dangers drugs and alcohol. You remember the ones. You would gather in the auditorium and sit through a skit of older highschool kids making bad decisions or maybe they would show a film that they would pause part way through to ask you how to handle the situation of peer pressure.
I remember the assemblies where they showed photos of the car wrecks and portraits of the victims and their families. I remember them becasue I hated going to them. I remember them because of one particular photo that was always there and I knew I wouldn’t make it out of there without crying. That photo was the one above, of me and my mother.
25 years ago today, my mother was killed by a drunk driver. She was driving home from teaching an aerobics class, and hit head on by a drunk driver who was driving without his lights on and swerved into her lane. Although she was wearing her seat belt, she didn’t survive the crash.
I don’t have a lot of vivid memories from my childhood, I remember going into my parents bedroom and sitting on the bed, while my dad told me what happened. I remember people at church treating me differently, and someone giving me a ballerina teddy bear. And I remember spending a lot of time at aunts, uncles and grandparent’s houses. I don’t, however, really remember my mother.
I hear stories about her, and how wonderful of a woman she was. How she was caring, and loving and just an all around amazing lady. But when I close my eyes, I don’t see her. Even when I look at photos, I know I was there, because there I am, smiling at the camera, a moment captured in time, but I don’t remember those moments. And that is what makes me sad when I think about my mother. I wish I had a moment, captured on video, to hear her voice and watch her smile.
Yes, I miss my mother. But I also know that I am, who I am today, in part because of her but mostly because of the rest of my family. I am me, because of an awesome Dad who let me have fun, but also knew when I was lying. Amazing grandparents who would take me out to Pizza Hut so I could cash in my BookIt points. More amazing grandparents who taught me to play Gin Rummy and how to pick strawberries. More amazing grandparents who let me spend summers with them in the Outer Banks, painting t-shirts and playing mini golf. Aunts and uncles who made sure I got on the bus every morning, and made sure I had a place to go after school. For that I am forever grateful.
I urge all of you, to be good to the people you love. Take care of yourselves, be safe, and most importantly, please drink responsibly this holiday season.