Published on: January 4, 2016by Kevin Coupe
It was around 8 am on New Year's morning when my son, Brian, got a call on his cell phone. Eleven hours earlier, a college friend had been killed in an automobile accident, apparently by a drunk driver. Another friend, the driver of the car that had been hit, was in critical condition.
Welcome to 2016.
We knew my son's friend; he'd stayed at the house a few times when in the area, and we liked him. More importantly, he was my son's fraternity brother. My son, I think it is fair to say, loved him in the way that college friends often do, with devotion born of long nights of studying or partying and, perhaps most critically, slowly becoming adults together.
My first thought, of course, was for Brian. How would he weather the grief that no 26-year-old should have to face? Death should be for the elderly to cope with, not the young ... or, at least, wouldn't it be pretty to think so.
But I have to admit, my second thought was of his mother and me ... because I simply cannot imagine having to deal with the grief that young man's parents now will have to endure. There but for the grace of God go I, was the thought that went through my mind.
Of course, grace only takes you so far. No matter how old our kids are, they are at the mercy of a world that can be surprising and devastating, thrilling and depressing, uplifting and deadly. We can only protect them so much, even if we want to protect them from everything, always. No matter how old our kids are, they remain our kids.
We hugged our kids a little bit tighter and longer over the weekend. We spent a little bit more time on the phone with our son who lives in Chicago. And we grieved for the life that now will not be lived, for the parents who cannot possibly have seen this coming, for a new year that got old really, really fast.
By the way ... One goes on the internet to do a little cursory research, and is gobsmacked by the results. "Each day, people drive drunk almost 300,000 times, but fewer than 4,000 are arrested," the FBI tells us. Or how about this one, from the US Department of Transportation: "About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders."
As it happens, local media is reporting that the fellow driving the car that killed my son's friend had "prior alcohol-related convictions," and had even served a little time because of one of them.
This is the worst of kind of Eye-Opener. While I hate to begin MNB's first 2016 posting in such sobering fashion, I do so because I want to urge you to hug your kids a little tighter and longer. To spend a little more time talking and listening to them. And to not let the lessons of January 1, 2016, go unheeded.
Happy New Year. Please.
- KC's View: