The last two years have been huge years…a lot of changes have been made. Mostly in me, and mostly for the better. Well, my outlook on life/mental health has gotten better; my physical health is a different story for a different day. Ha. I’ve learned so much about myself over the past two years and how to better deal with different situations. The Ashley two years ago was in a dark, dark place and was just going through the motions. I stayed there for a while before actually starting to deal with some issues. Some where in there I got to the point where I needed to start not letting other people’s thoughts and feelings dictate my own. I carried the energy of everyone around me on my shoulders and finally realized I couldn’t and shouldn’t do that anymore. Of course I’m still working on many things, but that has been a small step but big journey for me – starting to look out for me instead of everyone else.
On to the main point of this post…which is to hopefully show even just one person that drinking and driving is a very stupid and selfish decision. If my story can change one person from getting behind the wheel drunk, then I feel like I’ve helped someone. Hopefully it is more than one person, though. The way to do that is to just tell my side of the story. So, here goes…
January 27th, 2015, right around midnight, I woke up to my cell phone ringing. I saw that it was Michael but didn’t answer it. I assumed he was calling to tell me he was going out to eat with one of his work buddies (which he often did on late Monday nights). He called again and I still didn’t answer it. The third time that it started ringing my stomach had a sinking feeling because I just knew something had to be wrong. I answered the phone and Michael is talking to me, out of breath, sounding panicked, and trying to explain that he had been in a wreck and that I need to come down to where he was. I don’t even recall what I said – I just remember bolting out of bed, feeling like my heart was going to explode out of my chest, trying not to throw up and hyperventilate at the same time, and just kept telling myself to calm down. I threw on some clothes and just left the house.
I don’t remember driving to the scene; I just remember seeing lots of blue lights and ambulances as I got closer. Not a good feeling at all. I feel sick to my stomach just passing a crash scene with police cars flashing and ambulance sirens but it was completely different knowing that the love of my life was right in the middle of all that.
Michael wasn’t there from any fault of his own – he was there because some kid selfishly got behind the wheel drunk – very drunk (.24 bac) – and thought it was a good idea to drive home. When I got to the scene, one of the cops stopped me and had me wait for a few minutes. While I was standing there I realized that I was standing at the back of the police car that had the drunk kid in it. I could hear him talking; he sounded like he was just having a normal conversation. It made my blood boil. Knowing that he caused all this and was just sitting there like he had just gotten a speeding ticket. This was no car “accident”. This was all caused by a kid making a stupid, stupid decision.
Then the what-ifs started haunting me. What if he would have taken my husband of then almost 15 years away from me? What if I would have gone home a widow that night? What if I had to tell my kids that an underage drunk driver killed their dad? Those thoughts still creep into my mind to this day. It still makes my heart drop just thinking about it all. Fortunately none of those things happened, but the possibility was so real that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The next days/weeks/months were a blur. All the anxiety, emotions, and what-ifs consumed me and all my energy. Let me just tell you…anxiety is a total pain in the ass. I constantly wondered how this kid could’ve been so selfish. I wondered if he even cared. I hoped that he learned from his mistake and changed his ways for the better…for his sake and for others.
I learned that the criminal court system is unfortunately not very “comforting” to the victim. It’s very, very frustrating, actually. In addition to the pathetic “punishment” that these offenders get, you don’t really get any kind of “closure”. You don’t get to tell the offender how you really feel and they are probably told not to apologize or speak to the victim. Which left me feeling like it was very “un-personal”, but in reality it was very personal to me.
I’m so fortunate that I still have my husband and our kids have their dad in good health with us today. Some families aren’t so lucky, and my heart goes out to them.
Please, please, please don’t drink and drive.