sudden loss


Tuesday afternoon when I came home from work, Matthew was cutting our grass. Gerald hired him to do it last month, after he'd hurt his back, and we'd kept it up because he was a friendly, reliable 17-year-old kid who wasn't charging a fortune to mow the lawns. I'd only spoken with him a few times on the phone and in passing, but I was impressed with his quiet confidence and gentle voice. I remember wondering to myself on Tuesday what Matthew was going to use his earnings for--was he saving up for something special? Was he taking a girlfriend out to dinner? Was he just hanging out and having fun with his friends?

I'll never know the answer to that question.

Wednesday night, Matthew was killed by a drunk driver.

How do I make sense of this?

I know alcoholism is a disease. But how can I feel compassion for the 39-year-old man who got drunk on Wednesday night, then climbed behind the wheel and sped into Matthew's car? How can I not feel rage and despair over this senseless death?

The one thing about becoming a parent that nobody warned me about was the extraordinary sense of vulnerability that comes with the love. With each new sign of independence comes a mix of pride and fear.

My heart breaks for Matthew's family. I can't imagine what they must be going through.


I read something that said (I'm paraphrasing) "Becoming a mother is letting a piece of your heart walk around outside your body". How true! This is the kind of thing that terrifies all mothers - you can trust your child, but you don't know who else is going to be out there...

Although, I'm sure the drunk driver has a mother too, and my sympathies to her as well.

My older sister was killed by a drunk driver twenty-six years ago this September. The driver of her car also died. Her two-year-old son, who was sleeping in the back seat, survived with minimal scratches and grew up without his mother.

The complete senselessness of drunk driving deaths still weigh me after all this time.

I'm sure Matthew's family would appreciate hearing from you and learning that their son will be missed by people they never knew.

Oh dear, how heart-breaking to read this!

Senseless, absolutelely senseless. I am sorry to hear of the loss.

For Lisa: "The decision to have a child is to accept that your heart will forever walk about outside your body" K. Hadley

I, too, am very sorry to hear of Matthew's passing.

How horrifying. You seem to have experienced more than your fair share of tragedy lately. My condolances.

On the Spring of 1980 a cousin's son was killed by a drunk driver. He was buried on his 17th birthday. Now, 24 years later, the repercussions still resonate deeply within the family.

For some it is greater than for others. For his mother it is a hurt that never fades.

The entire family was reshaped by the experience. Such a major change, a shock and trauma, cannot be sufficiently described to those who have not endured the experience.

I was a few links in the family chain away, yet had become close with this teenager, my second cousin. His immediate family and closer extended family suffered in many ways after he was killed. The tragedy becomes exponential, in emotional manifestation and on the psyches of those closest.

Even now, going on a quarter-century since the event, it is like a recent wound.

Life goes on. Death, of course, a part of life. But one never resumes life as it was when an incident of this magnitude strikes a family.

At some point -usually a different moment for all involved, which can sadly add a certain measure of additional pain-- those most touched by the event manage to start to live with less of a shadow of the tragedy hovering over them. But that shadow is never really gone forever, for those who have lost a child, a loved one, and particularly through so painful a process.

Drunk driver kills child -- the horror is beyond comprehension.

Our sympathy to you and his family. Reminders like this, that a young person can go so quickly, are not
the reality we want to live in.

That you knew him only briefly is part of the tragedy. There were probably many who only got to know Matthew briefly, his life was brief.

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on July 23, 2004 12:18 PM. tools was the previous entry in this blog.

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