The older I get, the more I know how valuable time is. Spending my time doing something I value and have passion for is a big priority. Since the devastating wreck, when my husband and daughter were killed by a drunk driver, my interest and passion has turned into a field I never dreamed of being a part of.
I recently drove two hours to Baker City, Oregon and found my way to the courthouse where I quickly set up and waited for the DUI offenders to arrive. Twenty people were expected to be there. They began filling the seats and I patiently waited for the victim impact panel to start. After the district attorney introduced me, I told them I had driven there from Meridian, Idaho to share a very important message with them in hopes of persuading them to make a choice that would not only positively affect their lives, but the lives of others.
As my video began, I could tell there were varying levels of interest as they watched the video footage and pictures of Shawn and me. I saw some were emotionally stirred as the video progressed through our dating, marriage, and finally becoming parents. I watched the audience's shock as they saw the news reports stating that the three of us had been hit by a drunk driver, that Shawn and Sage were killed instantly, and that my life hung in the balance after suffering a traumatic brain injury, a broken neck, multiple bone fractures, bruised organs, and lacerations.
After the video ended, I stood and told them that my husband and daughter are two of the 17,013 people killed by a drunk driver in 2003. For the next 45 minutes, I told them details of the crash and tried to help them understand that drinking and driving is not an accident- it is a choice. A choice that can be prevented by making a plan. Upon finishing my presentation, several of the attendees spoke to me thanking me and letting me know of the impact it had on them.
I drove to the Best Western motel feeling fulfilled in knowing I had done my best in persuading those DUI offenders to never drive under the influence again. The statistics are frustrating, because I know many of them will drink and drive again-even after witnessing the devastation I experienced by someone doing exactly what they did. I hope that at least one was moved enough, that it caused them to think, and those thoughts lead to a change in their beliefs and ultimately their behavior when faced with drinking and then driving.
Despite the frustration, I have learned that speaking about this huge tragedy, that completely changed who I am, is the greatest therapy I have in dealing with the loss of my husband and daughter. Telling their story is the greatest way I can honor their lives and do some good in the face of this horrible tragedy.
That is why I do what I do.