Six weeks ago my son was travelling through an intersection on a major road. He was on his way to fill up his motor bike. He was doing the right thing, when a car ploughed into him and sent him flying and skidding alone the highway. Careening out of control as he and his bike slid and scrapped the road surface. Gauging out crevices as he went. Leaving parts of his new bike behind him until he finally came to a sudden stop, head first into the gutter. Landing at the feet of two off duty nurses and their partners who had just been enjoying an evening out at a local restaurant. The telephone call was horrible to receive. Informing his family heartbreaking. My voice halting as I woke up his sister to let her know that her beloved brother was in hospital due to no fault of his own.
Rushing down the road on the hour journey to a destination that no one wants to go to. In a state of shock. Refusing to start thinking about the future until we knew exactly what we were facing. Walking into the emergency room, my heart shattered as I saw my son hooked up to wires and countless machines. Neck in a brace. Leg wrapped in bandages but covered in blood from the compound fracture, and other broken bones he had sustained. His cry’s of pain invading my thoughts and snapping me out of my moment of hesitation in going to him. Afraid to let him see how scared I was. He was the important one. He wanted and needed us to be there for him and our thoughts, fears and tears could come later when we were alone and he more stable.
Our shock increased as he was able to tell us that a driver, over four times the legal alcohol limit went through the traffic lights without stopping. Taking out him and his new bike. The driver took some time to stop and the partners of the nurses actually took the keys to his car from him when he finally stopped so he was unable to drive off again. The driver spent the night in goal before being released on bail. My son spent nearly three weeks in hospital before he was released. The driver, an adult repeat offender will be sentenced later in the year. My son will spend up to the next 12 months learning to adapt to the metal in his leg as he recovers.
I wonder if the driver realises how much damage he has actually caused this family. How much his day spent drinking and then getting behind the wheel of his car has changed my son and his future plans. Does he ever think how close he and we came to losing something so incredibly precious that night. Does it ever occur to him that he could have destroyed more lives that night if he had taken out more than one motorbike? I wonder what his future holds and will he ever get behind the wheel of a car drunk again?
My son is going through so many things at the moment. Uncertainty about his future. Pain and discomfort as he goes through recovery. Lack of freedom as he is still unable to drive. He is stuck relying on other people to get him around. This I’m sure is hard for him. My son has been independent for most of his life. We as a family have always encouraged him to do his own thinking and spread his wings and fly on his own. Learn to be his own person. Stand up for what he wants. We have never been anything but proud of our smart and independent son, brother, cousin, nephew or grandson. He is empathetic and supportive. He has always been respectful of others and caring to his family. This drunk driver has, for the time being, robbed him of so much more than his ability to drive or ride his motorbike. One careless decision made by someone else has changed my son. We as a family are coming to terms with loss in a different way this time.
This time the loss is very different. It’s not the physical loss of a person, but the emotional loss of things that could have been. The promise of plans for the future and the hope of a better journey ahead. This loss is vastly different from all the grieving we are still trying to trudge through and have been for nearly two years. The feelings we are going through though, are as strong and relentless as those we experienced when we first heard about my nephew. Although I am lucky and my son is still alive. My sister has acknowledged that while not worse than her journey. This part of our lives are going to be just as hard to get through. Nothing can compare to the physical loss of a son. However, losing the sense of who my son once was, and being unable to communicate and break through to him. Is as hard as if he was no longer with us. We do live in hope that he will be back to us one day. He will remember how special we find him and how amazing he is. How much just being in the room with him lights up our world. One day he will remember who he was becoming and he will start planning for his future while being aware of how far he has come. We know that one day he will wake up and know that we as a family will always be there for him and have always supported him through his hardest journeys. We are all waiting patiently and lovingly for him. He is never too far away from his family for all of us to come running when he needs us.
While he was in hospital telling someone what had happened to him, he got the comment back, “we’ve all done that.” Meaning we’ve all gotten behind the wheel after drinking. My son’s response to this was anger and he asked to be remembered next time someone thought about driving after drinking. If you are drinking don’t get behind the wheel. If you think you are still able to drive after drinking, think about my son. Or think about your children and how their lives and yours will change if you do loss control of your vehicle. How much damage can be caused by one simple decision. When driving we all have a responsibility and duty of care to everybody. Driving isn’t a right. It’s a privilege and needs to be treated as such. Drinking and then driving is a dangerous as walking into a hungry lions den. One may let you go but eventually the lions will get you. Getting behind a wheel drunk is as risky as putting a loaded gun into the hands of a child. There is no excuse for ever drinking and driving. While I count my blessings, someone out there tonight isn’t as lucky. I hope it isn’t you!