Sometimes life shakes you to the core. Things happen that wake you up so much that all your senses are heightened and you savor every breath, every moment, the magnitude of the beauty of a sunrise in the fog, the crispness of the morning air. You truly appreciate the people you love in a very real way. You realize that at any second, any one of them could no longer be here. That has just happened to me.
Yesterday I found out that my former step-son, my kids' half-brother, Thomas, who I helped raise since he was three, had been in a car accident the night before. It was about 20 hours later before anyone in our family, his family even knew this had happened. He had two hospital bracelets on when I saw him, one with his name, one with John Doe. That is who he was when he arrived at the hospital. He had been drinking. He thought he could drive just fine when he was drinking. He was wrong.
He has some bruises, a black eye, a few scrapes, and a contusion in his brain. He got lucky. His best friend, Matt, who was in the car with him is not so lucky. His back is broken in two places, he has two concussions, a broken shoulder, and a broken wrist. No one knows the long-term impact of his injuries right now or whether he will walk again.
Thomas remembers leaving the house. He remembers standing in the middle of the road, his car totaled in a ditch, his best friend lying on the road crying for him to go get help. He remembers nothing in between. Matt said that he drove around the corner too sharply and the car rolled. They weren't wearing seat belts, they were drinking, and they thought they were invincible. They now know they are not.
As I drove my daughter, Grace, to school this morning, I realized that she could have been behind the wheel of a car on the very same road where this happened, very near our house, at the same time. She could have had a head on collision with her own brother.
Last week, Grace learned how important each second in a car can be. She was leaving our neighborhood and as she turned, her iPod Touch fell down near the pedals. She thought it would be safer to pick it up without braking, afraid that if she did it might get jammed under the pedals. In that few seconds, she swerved off the road, hit a mailbox which shattered part of the windshield and knocked off the side mirror. She got lucky. It could have been much worse.
We can have a tendency to be too causal about decisions made behind the wheel of a ton of steel. Decisions that can have a huge impact on our lives, on the lives of people we care about, on the lives of total strangers who have family and friends that love them dearly.
I want to create a video to give voice to people who have made decisions they regretted behind the wheel, who wish that they had taken a few seconds to make a different decision. I know how powerful video can be online and how it can impact many people. I am hoping that this video will touch some people and help them take a few seconds to make different decisions behind the wheel.
If you know of anyone in the Athens, GA area who might want to contribute their story to this project, please contact me at julieteaston at gmail dot com.