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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm MAAD - Help Me Understand

I’m MADD. Help me understand. I’m angry. Help me understand.

It was a nice Saturday evening following a family outing. The kids, siblings, were playing in a mud puddle in the front yard as kids often like to do after a good rain. The youngest kicked off his shoes, sending one spiraling towards the edge of the yard, near the street without sidewalks. As any kid would do, he went to retrieve it. But he never made it. A speeding driver who had probably been drinking changed five lives that afternoon. The older two siblings, a brother and a sister, witnessed the whole thing. They watched in horror as their baby brother left his mortal body and the driver left the scene, taking out mailboxes down the street until finally wrecking his car. Fast-thinking neighbors caught the driver and handed him over to the police as a frantic father tried in vain to save his young son. The mother, a co-worker of mine, has lost her baby.

I’ve been told before that writing can be a way to release anger and frustration, so my usual Taylor Hicks blog is being high-jacked to try to make some sense of a tragic and senseless event. I won’t call it an accident. It wasn’t an accident that the driver was speeding. It wasn’t an accident that he may have chosen to have a few drinks before getting behind the wheel. It may have been an accident that several mailboxes were hit. It was no accident that the driver left the scene. And it was no accident that a child’s life was cut short.

From the moment I first heard about this family’s tragedy, I have been angry. I just didn’t know until tonight. What do you say to a grieving family? I’m sorry just doesn’t seem to cut it. Even though I truly am sorry that they are suffering, that they have lost a child, that a child’s life has been cut too short, it’s just not enough to say “I’m sorry”.

Someone recently said, as a parent, we expect to pick out our baby’s crib; we don’t expect to pick out his casket. Yet, this young family has had to do that because of someone else’s choices. God gave us free will, the freedom to make our own decisions and choices. It’s up to us to figure out what are the right choices. I don’t believe, can’t believe, won’t believe that drinking and driving is a right choice. We’ve probably all done it, one time or another. I’m guilty. But I won’t be again. Not ever. No party, no alcohol, no favorite concoction is worth what this family is dealing with right now, or others who have gone before and those yet to face the harsh reality of someone’s choice.

The family had gathered at the funeral home for the wake and to receive friends and extended family. I’ve never attended a child’s funeral. I never want to again. He was beautiful as he lay there, angelic without wings. So perfect, so peaceful, so young. His young friends and family had decorated his final bed with stickers and loving messages, his favorite toys, his blanket.

I couldn’t cry. I wanted to. All I could do was ask God “why?” There was no answer. As I drove away from the funeral home, in silent meditation and contemplation, I realized why I couldn’t cry. I was angry. Angry that someone had carelessly cut short the life of another. Angry that this family had to suffer the loss of a child. Angry that someone had probably been drinking before getting behind the wheel of his car. Angry that the driver was speeding and left the scene as the child lay lifeless, his brother and sister witnesses to such tragedy.

How do I turn anger to understanding? I can’t, not alone, but with your help. The next time you have a couple of drinks, make sure you’re at home. If you aren’t, make sure you have a non-drinking designated driver, or know the phone number of your local cab or taxi service. When you’re in a hurry in a congested area, where children are often present, slow down, take a few extra minutes to get to your destination. Watch out for those young lives, protecting them as if they were your own children. It takes only a split second to change a life forever, whether it’s your own or that of another.

And above all, take time to enjoy your children, no matter how old or how young. Enjoy your grandchildren if you have any. Give them love and hugs and praise. Set the right example – don’t drink and drive, or use excessive speed.

God grant peace to this family and their friends.
God have mercy on the driver.
Lord, let me remember always the pain, and to never get behind the wheel when I may be impaired.


Now the tears are flowing.

In loving memory of Frank Alexander Brooks, age 5

http://www.madd.org/

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9 comments:

poetcindy said...

OMG Mandy This is so tragic and so sad. I'm crying just thinking of what this poor family is going through. As far as how to understand this I am sure nothing said will make much since. It is always tragic to loose a life especially that of a child so young. When my Dad died many people said "He is in a better place" "Everythig happens for a reason" God wanted him Home. I know they meant well but at the time all I could think of was Shut up. So with a child it is even worse especially when the childs life ends in such a horrible way. I will pray for the family and for you.

Bloom said...

Oh Mandy, I hesitated before clicking on your blog, I just knew it wasn't going to be good news.

My heart is breaking for this family, such a senseless tragedy and nothing can be said that will make the family or you feel better.

I can understand your anger it is God's way of helping us deal.

I hope that those that read your plea stop and think not only about drinking and driving, which is just plain ignornant, but also about how devasting it can be not to have your mind fully focused everytime you are behind the wheel of a car.

It seems that everybody's always in a hurry to go no where or distracted with their cell phones.

It only takes a split second, like this family knows, for their lives to be forever changed, and a young life taken.

I share your tears Mandy, and I will pray for strength for Frank's parents and his siblings.

God bless you Frank Alexander Brooks, may you forever be enfolded in his loving arms.

Anonymous said...

This is so tragic and sad. I can't imagine what this family is going thru. I lay awake in my bed sometimes at night thinking of my daughter and way to protect her.
But life is that way - it takes a split second for a tragedy of this magnitude to happen.
You question why God would take a little angel like this.

The laws need to get tougher for drunk drivers. Too many tragedies because of senseless people getting behind the wheel after drinking.

My prayers are with this family and with you. May the Lord grant you all the peace in your hearts to deal with this horrible tragedy.

Teri(cydter)

JaxNative said...

Mandy,

Like you I just don't know what to say. I am so terribly sorry. My heart breaks for the family of that little boy and everyone touched by this.

Know this .. it's not what you say to a grieving family that is important .. it is the fact you were there for them that helps the most.

Kathy (Jax)

Anonymous said...

As a mother of 1 very free spirited child and 1 with sights set on her future, I always wonder if they will make the right choices. Especially the choices they will make when they get behind the wheel of a car.

I know that nothing I say will bring Little Frank back to his parents, brother, sister, and family members, just as nothing can bring my dad back.

Yes, Frank is in a better place, but not for his family. I watched this childs parents grieve this morning at his funeral. Their pain will never go away. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. All because some person made a horrible choice to drink and drive.

juliegr said...

Mandy -- thanks for sharing your thoughts at this unfortunate accident which claims the lifes of too many of our young people.

I've read many of your previous posts about your travels and there just isn't a way to understand why these things happen to the young and defenseless.

The Real Deal Blog said...

Mandy,
Mere words can not exspress the saddness I feel for you and this family. I myself have had to ask the question "why?" more times then I care to admit.
It is an age old question that even I, with all my love for God and my anilitical ways. Can not answer,
In the past, I have helped others who are grieving by creating a myspace site in memorial to those who have past. It seems to have helped them in some small way. Allwoing them to have a lace to go to and type in some words to speak to those who have left us. It has also given them the opertunity to create a circle of friends they can talk to when they feel the need to vent.
If you belive this might be of some small bit of help for this family. Then please feel free to contact me. Either by email or at my forum. I would gladly set a site up for this family.
My thoughts, hugs and prayers go out to all whos lives this young boy touched.
Jodie aka Dreamhrt

KarinP said...

Mandy, while I am so sorry to see this story, I am glad that you are MADD because through your words, perhaps one person will read this blog and stop and think before they get into a car after they have been drinking.

As the others have said, one second is all it takes to change lives forever. This was senseless, selfish, horrific act. Unfortunately, it always seems to me that these "drivers" walk away without a scratch and the innocent suffer so much pain, torment and loss.

MADD is a fabulous organization which continually tries to get the message out about drinking and driving. In Canada, they work with the local police departments and go from school to school with a wrecked car to show the kids what can happen if they drink and drive or speed.

I always told my kids that when they are behind the wheel of a car, it is like a loaded gun and when you kill or maim someone, it is homicide - plain and simple. It is time that the laws caught up with the times and punishment should be much more harsh.

My deepest sympathy to the family and to you. It is difficult to know the right words to say to someone who is in so much pain but "listening" is a gift that they will appreciate more than you know.

Thank you for bringing awareness to this never ending problem in society.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mandy, I just saw this. You are awesome and I love you!!

Frankie

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