Many years ago, Jane Watkins of Tennessee, gave me a handwritten document that I recently found when unpacking a long-forgotten box of file folders. This is what it reads:
“I went to a birthday party, but I remembered what you said. You told me not to drink at all, so I had a Sprite instead. I felt proud of myself, the way you said I would, that I didn’t chose to drink and drive, though some of my friends said I should. I knew I made a healthy choice and your advice to me was right. As the party finally ended and the kids drove out of sight, I got into my own car, sure to get home in one piece, never knowing what was coming, something I expected least. Now I’m lying on the pavement, I can hear the policeman say, ‘The kid that caused this wreck was drunk.’ His voice seems far away. My own blood is all around me, as I try hard not to cry. I can hear the paramedic say, ‘This girl is going to die.’ I’m sure the guy had no idea, while he was flying high, because he chose to drink and drive, that I would have to die. So why do people do it, knowing that it ruins lives? Now the pain is cutting me like a hundred stabbing knives. Tell my sister not to be afraid, tell Daddy to be brave, and when I get to heaven to put ‘Daddy’s Girl’ on my grave. Someone should have taught him that it’s wrong to drink and drive. Maybe if his mom and dad had, I’d still be alive. My breath is getting shorter. I’m getting really scared. These are my final moments, and I’m so unprepared. I wish that you could hold me Mom, as I lay here and die. I wish that I could say, I love you, and good-bye.”
As this season of Summer recreation begins, let’s remember that we have a responsibility to each other; all of us.
Jesus gave us a clear Commandment, that we “love one another.” (John 13:34). St. Paul went on to explain what love is, and is not: “Love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, NRSV).
Drunk driving is selfish, careless, and loveless. As in the story from Jane Watkins, it is too often the innocent non-drinker that suffers from the thoughtlessness of a drunk driver.
Be sure to have a designated-driver, or just stay where you are until you sober-up. The life you save may be someone’s little girl or boy.
Blessings and Peace,
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.