Friday, October 29, 2004

I am going to come clean

in this post. Here, where I talked about my parents coming up to start planning their wedding was a half truth.

That is one thing they want to do while they are here, but the main reason is because it's my cousin's birthday. I just didn't want to go into it at the time, and didn't know if I'd have the time to do it justice.

It is still hits such raw emotions that I don't know if I can articulate what I want to say, but I'm going to try because getting this message out is very important.

My cousin will be 45 this year, and 27 years ago her parents were killed in an automobile accident. Not just a random twist of fate accident, but a senseless, horrendous act of selfishness-the 24 year old driver was drunk. On Christmas Eve.

We had just finished opening our presents at around 3:00 in the morning when my parents got the call. I was only 6, but I will never forget it. My Mom about collapsed as she listened to the call, and my Father rushed to hold her up. She began sobbing, and holding on to my Dad for dear life.

At the time I didn't know what was going on, but I had the strongest sense of fear I've ever had in my life. When you are little and your parents are that upset, it is the worst feeling imaginable, as they are your protectors-nothing is supposed to phase them. I can still feel that knot in my stomach to this day.

I clutched my brand new Raggedy Ann doll for dear life. My Mom must have seen how traumatized we were, as she got herself together. She told us my Great Aunt Jean and Uncle C had died.

I knew what death was. I had a cat that had died, and it meant that you didn't come back. Church said you went to heaven. My Grandparents said you went on to a new life. It was the first funeral I ever attended, and I still don't think I understood how horrible the situation was until the yearning to see my Aunt grew unbearable in the weeks to come.

It was a closed casket, as the drunk that hit them was going about 90 down the wrong side of a 4 lane highway and hit them head on. Without seeing her or my Uncle in the casket I don't think I truly understood that she was never coming back until she well, never came back. I didn't understand why my Grandma threw herself on that box and sobbed and sobbed until my Grandpa gently removed her.

My Aunt was a second Mother to my Mom, and it totally devastated her. She walked around like a ghost for weeks. My poor cousin, who was only 18, had lost both her parents in one selfish act. Her sister was ingrained in the hippy culture in San Francisco, and couldn't be found until about 4 months after the tragedy.

She had no one but us, so my parents became her surrogate parents. I think it helped my Mom in a lot of ways, as she was doing someone useful, something my Aunt would truly appreciate, as nothing was more important to her then family.

Aunt Jean was a "squishy" woman, or that's what I used to say. I loved to be rocked by her, as she was so squishy and comfortable. Oh I loved to be rocked by my Mom too, but considering she has always had the body of an Olson twin it wasn't near as comfortable. At that young age I remember thinking that if I was ever going to be a Mom, I would want to be "squishy".

She would frequently laugh until tears rolled down her face. Every St. Patrick's Day she would die her hair green. She would rock us and tell us old Irish Folktales for hours on end, because when we begged for more she just couldn't say no.

Her toenails were always painted bright red. I used to beg to paint them for her. She had that WWII mentality and had a box full of red toenail polish, so that she would never run out. When I was 4 she fell asleep while I was painting her toenails, and didn't wake up until I was just above her ankle with the red polish.

Yes, I painted her entire foot. She didn't yell or spank me or anything like that. "Why I must have the prettiest foot in the entire world!" she said and didn't remove the polish until I went home.

That was just the kind of person she was. She was probably more of a Grandmother figure then my maternal Grandma, as my Grandma was the tall, cool blonde type. Oh, I loved my Grandma to death, but Aunt Jean just had that maternal quality about her.

I don't think I have ever met anyone since with such a zest for life and love. She did everything with pizzaz and enthusiasm. You would never hear a negative thing from her, and my family, to this day, still mourns her loss.

I'm not sure what became of the driver. He, of course, only suffered minor injuries, as he was thrown from his car and into a snow bank. MADD wasn't around yet, and it wasn't really known as a national problem.

I know there was a trial, and I know my Mom was devastated by the outcome. I know there was a big controversy over the 24 year old making a "mistake" and his life shouldn't be ruined, or at least that's what the papers said. I have never been able to bring myself to ask her what happened, even to this day.

So it's Friday, the beginning of the weekend. All I ask is before you take that next drink this weekend, swearing you'll be ok to drive, think of my Aunt Jean. Think of what was taken away from our family in a senseless tragedy. Think of that poor 18 year old girl who was left an orphan on Christmas Eve. Think about that 51 year old man who has to live with the fact that he murdered two people everyday of his life.

Think of how this world would be such a better place with someone like Aunt Jean was still with us.

MADD has an online petition right now for increased DUI enforcement. Check it out....


warcrygirl said...

Wow! I'm so sorry for your loss, it must have been very difficult for you to write about it.

Found you on Blog Explosion, thought I'd post a quick comment. Here's my blog:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all your writing for us. You blog is like a wonderful first person novel - but it is real. Keep keeping it real, as they say. You rock. I'd pay to read your writing!


kj4ever said...

Thank you warcrygirl for your kind words. This entry was hard for me to write, but worth it if one person signs that petition or if one person thinks twice before getting behind the wheel after reading it.

Emily, you made my day. That was so nice of you to say. Thank you, thank you, thank you...