Grief and loss Musings

Please, Don’t Ever Drink and Drive

Drinking is fun, I get that. But drinking and NOT driving is so easy, let’s just agree not to drive after a few, shall we?

Drinking and driving, and for the sake of argument, doing any other type of drug that inhibits your motor functions, is wrong. Don’t argue, it’s just wrong, so stop. If you don’t believe me, here’s what can happen when you make a choice to drive under the influence.

I’ve never published this exact story before, and it’s hard for me to see in print, but perhaps it’s time.

Twelve years ago, I had a late-night dinner with my mom and dad. I was 25, my mom was 57. She got off work from her second, part-time job and was tired. She wanted to go home and relax in her home, but I invited her to go out to dinner with me and my dad. We were thinking of going to the café at Jerry’s Nugget, a place we’d been to since I was young, for their steak and lobster deal.

I convinced her to go.

She drove to my dad’s house and I drove us to Jerry’s, stopping along the way at a gas station my dad had found with the help of AAA’s gas price finder because it had cheap gas. At Jerry’s Nugget we settled into a front booth and all ordered the special. When we were finished eating, my dad stepped away from the table first to go have a smoke, then discovered the video poker machines, so my mom and I made our way over to the Deal or No Deal reel slots to play a little before heading home. We chatted about my dad, my then-boyfriend and my mom’s day before my dad meandered over and we packed up to leave.

I took the freeway back to my dad’s house, and after a short time we arrived and said our goodbyes. My mom climbed into her car, which was parked to the left of mine in my dad’s driveway. I can still see her smiling at me before she pulled away that night.

That was the last time I’d ever see my mom.

I drove home and called her, calling to follow up on our conversation from Jerry’s Nugget and rehash the night. It was something we often did – we were super close. But her cell phone just rang and she didn’t pick up. I figured it was probably at the bottom of her purse and she didn’t know it was ringing, so I didn’t read too much into it.

Then, I changed into gym clothes because my then-boyfriend and I were going to do a late-night gym session as he was on his way home from work. He got home and changed, and my phone rang from a number that looked like the one my dad called from when he was at work at University Medical Center.

“I’m calling for Joy Carroll.”

A social worker from the trauma center called to ask me if my mom was allergic to any medications because she’d been in car accident and was undergoing emergency surgery. She was unresponsive at the scene and rushed to the hospital. I called my family, and left for the hospital immediately. We arrived along with all of my family, and after waiting in the trauma center lobby, received news that forever changed everyone in that room.

“She didn’t make it.”

When the doctor came out from behind the swinging trauma center doors and said those words, I was in disbelief. In fact, it took me hours to fully comprehend that she was gone. I’d just seen her and it didn’t make sense.

A drunk driver, under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, was driving 80 miles per hour and blasted through a red light. He hit my mom’s car on the driver’s side door as she was making a left turn. Her car was crushed with her inside of it. When I saw the car later at the junkyard, it was devastating. The driver’s side seat was folded in half and the entire driver’s side was pushed in, with glass everywhere. My mom had been in that seat.

The aftermath of this man’s decision to drive impaired ripped my family apart for a long time. Drunk driving ruins and changes lives, and not just those of the people involved in the crash.

Please, I implore you to not drive under the influence of anything. And share that message with those around you. It’s too easy to not drive yourself. Call a Lyft, a friend or a loved one. Deal with the inconvenience of having to pick your car up later. It’s a lot less than dealing with the guilt and pain of killing someone because you made a bad decision. Always remember, the choices we make dictate the life we lead. So just don’t ever drink and drive. Please.

6 thoughts on “Please, Don’t Ever Drink and Drive”

  1. Laura I remember that night as well. we were so happy to have known her. It is hard to believe it has been 12 yrs but I believe she is still guiding you & your family in all that you do. She will always have her own little dwelling place in our hearts. Much luv to all. luv uncle Pete & aunt CJ

  2. It’s so hard to read this, you are so brave for telling this story. I remember every minute of that night. It changed all of us. I would never wish this kind of pain on anyone. You’re so much like her, standing up for what you believe in and fighting your fears to say things that need to be said. She would be so proud of you. I know I am.

  3. This just brought tears to my eyes all over again. I can’t imagine what you went through that night. She was alive, well, full of life….and then gone in an instant. My heart bleed for both of you girls. She forever remains in my thoughts as one of the most caring people I’ve ever worked with.

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