Some things occur in life that you never forget. Things that leave a scar and others that never even heal. There are lessons to be learned from those experiences, and I learned a big lesson on drinking responsibly at the tender age of 11.
So, I volunteered to share a part of my life normally reserved for those close to me. I decided to share a time that will never leave me in hopes others don’t have to experience the pain it brought. If you know me, you know that I keep family matters private. This account, however, may help sway someone’s decision and prevent an alcohol related incident.
It was Friday, date night for my parents.
I was 11 and my little sister, Jen, was 9. We were at the age many parents start to let their kids stay home alone. Mom and dad were invited to a party in Bowie, Md., which was about an hour away.
AWESOME! Jen and I had the whole house to ourselves. We proceeded to, you know, do typical kid activities. At around 2 a.m., we heard knocking at the door. I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhood, so there was no way I was opening that door. The knocking persisted and we were terrified. Jen and I actually hid under the bed, because we thought someone was trying to break into the house.
The next morning, we woke up under the bed. We got up and knocked on mom and dad’s room door. No answer. I opened the door; they hadn’t come home.
I picked up the phone to call my grandpa and found it had been off the hook since last night. That’s when he told me mom and dad were hit by a drunk driver. He said it happened the night before around 1 a.m,. and he had tried to call us. Grandpa was the one knocking on the windows and doors.
Once we got to our grandparents house, we were told the details of the accident. My father was driving home on Oxon Hill Road when a drunk driver swerved into their lane and sideswiped them. Dad hit a telephone pole head on. Mom wasn’t wearing her safety belt, and her face went through the windshield. Dad had this crazy adrenaline rush and pulled my mom out of the car. We found out later his back was broken; he was out of commission for about six-to-seven months.
After gramps gave us the news, Jen started to freak out, and I started crying. I’m not sure if I was crying due to sadness or because I was angry as hell, probably both.
Sunday evening at around 5 p.m. our parents came home. They were lucky to survive. They recounted the events from that night. I asked dad if the drunk driver got hurt. Dad said, “No. The guy thought the whole situation was funny.”
Our lives drastically changed. No more family outings to the park, no more fun things and nothing normal for kids our ages. Instead, the next several months consisted of Jen and I taking care of our parents.
What upsets me the most is that this didn’t need to happen; responsible decisions could have prevented the entire event.
When someone abuses alcohol it affects more than just them. It has a ripple effect to everyone who cares about that person, those they hurt, and the people who are left behind to pick up the pieces. Take ownership and responsibility for your actions and what you put in your body. There are other things you can do besides drink excessively.
Find that niche that makes you happy–go to school, play video games, travel, etc. If you do drink, know your limit. Know when to say “when.” Ask yourself, “How are my actions going to impact other people?”
My life was affected by an irresponsibly selfish guy who couldn’t make the right decision concerning alcohol and almost killed my parents. Don’t be that person.
Photo: This photo was taken after a drunk driver hit the daughter of a military member. Alcohol-related incidents increase during the holiday season. (Courtesy photo)