Saturday afternoon, DH decided to go for a ride on his motorcycle. Great day, beautiful weather; it’s the weekend, and what better way to enjoy it than taking a quick ride. He’s fifty-three years old and a careful, responsible driver; he’s done this every weekend.
Hours go by, and wife and youngest daughter are worried–he should’ve been home by now. They’d been shopping and returned to an empty house. Bike is gone, he must be having a great time to still be out.
More time goes by, the sun sets. DH isn’t home. Then the bell rings. Uniformed officers with hats in hand tell DW and YD they’re very sorry. Words come out of their mouths that don’t register in stunned minds. Accident. DOA. Drunk Driver.
But I imagine you don’t know any of this. You were probably sleeping it off in a hospital with a special bracelet attaching your wrist to the bed frame. Or maybe you slept it off in your jail cell, and you’re just now wondering what the hell you’re doing in there.
I bet I could tell you:
Saturday. Party time. Texas is well-represented on the sports stations. Texas A&M. University of Texas. SFA. They were all on TV. You had two beers per quarter. Maybe you’re a UT fan and downed a shot for each point scored. Still, you declared yourself to be the most sober man at the party and appointed yourself gofer for the hot wings. Or more beer. Or another bottle of Jose Cuervo. So at five o’clock in the afternoon, you’re on the road with no more sense than God gave a turnip, thinking you can drive.
You idiot. You don’t know what you’ve done.
Let me fill you in.
DH’s oldest son is just in his early twenties–now he’s the man of the house having to shoulder the responsibility of a shattered mother and two heart-broken sisters. He’s learning more about his father’s finances than a young man his age needs to know. He’s being turned to for wisdom he doesn’t have. He doesn’t have time to grieve because everyone is expecting him to be a man, while inside he’s six years old and looking for a lap to hide in.
Youngest sister is numb. She was there to hear the garbled message that her dad was dead. She was the only one there to hold her mother up and help her try to think. She isn’t even in high school yet and she has to hold it together until someone more responsible comes along and allows her to be a child. She has a long wait. The nearest family and Mom’s closest friend are three hours away. Older brother and sister are six hours away and too torn up to drive in at night. Besides, Mom’s terrified something will happen to them too. Best not to have her oldest two children on the road on a Saturday night for some other idiot to kill.
Middle child is the one who’s dying inside right now. She and her father were going through a rough patch–something that happens in every family where a college girl wants to spread her wings and her father isn’t ready to let go, wants her to stay his child. The arguments were bitter–and unresolved.
And that’s your fault. All. Your. Fault.
See, you didn’t kill just “Some Guy,” you killed a father and a husband. You killed the family’s soul provider. Mom devoted her life to her kids and making their house a home–she hasn’t worked in twenty-nine years. Now, she has a child at home and one in college, and no job experience. And no husband. Just a young man she’s leaning on harder than she should right now. But he’s trying. He has risen to the responsibility. He is swallowing his tears so he can shoulder the tears of his sisters and mother.
This is what you did Saturday, October 16, 2010, around 5:00 p.m. You know who you are. Live with it.