What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Kelley Garland

I felt nothing but numbness standing outside my home on April 3. I came home from school to my father’s luggage packed by the door with only one plane ticket to Las Vegas.

My mother was in Vegas celebrating her birthday with her four close friends from high school. For three days they went on wine tours, photographed the Vegas strip, saw the Mentalist, and celebrated decades of friendship. Yet as they were heading back to their hotel after an early breakfast, the unimaginable occurred. At a red light, a drunk driver cut over to their lane and crashed his car into theirs at 70 miles per hour. The impact sent their Toyota Rav4 sailing nearly 70 feet away from the initial collision. The five of them struggle to get out of the car, since smoke began to come out of their engine. An ambulance whisked them all away to the ICU.

Marie had a broken back. She had rods and screws placed to stabilize her back. Daryl had a shattered hip. She had four plates and sixteen screws inserted and has not yet begun to walk. Janet had a broken neck and a broken back. She had plates and screws placed in her neck, and she is awaiting surgery to have a rod inserted into her back. Barbara had nerve damage in her neck. My mother was the luckiest of them all; she only had contusions and a sprained knee. While they will all recover in due time, the mental and emotional damage caused by this accident on what was supposed to be a celebration of a milestone with friends has turned into an ongoing nightmare.

The drunk driver, a 40-year-old man, walked away without a scratch and refused to seek medical assistance. His one reckless mistake caused unimagined pain and suffering to the mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and best friends of five families. While we focus on teenage drivers, drunk-driving education should span across all ages. Reckless decisions and behavior cause traumatic and life changing outcomes, and it does not just affect the person driving.

While many of you may have heard this story before, it had to be told again. Not only to get across the point of the stupidity behind drinking and driving, but to cherish everything, and everyone, in your life. As a senior, I never truly valued the friendships I’ve made across the grades and among other schools, the relationships with teachers, and the love of my family until this horrific incident. I never even realized the warmth and kindness words such as “I’m keeping your family in my thoughts” would bring on such difficult times from people, or a batch of chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven from a near stranger. My mother is the most amazing woman I know, and she continues to prove so after the accident. She refused to let it stop her from getting behind the wheel of a car again, and it has brought everyone closer together.

Do not take anything for granted. Hug your friends, kiss your parents, thank your teachers, and wave to a friendly face. Please, do not take the people in your life be taken for granted.