A JULY TO REMEMBER…………..ALWAYS
By Colleen Sheehey-Church
Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President
I hope you don’t mind if I just give you my heart and soul this month?
Often, I aim to have a stiff upper lip … to keep my head high … to help others who are hurting from the immense pain and grief drunk and drugged driving inflicts on so many people. After all, I know that as the president of MADD, I want to lift up the people who love the 10,000 people killed or the roughly 390,000 injured each year. That’s literally my job, so I put on a smile and share my beloved, Dustin, with them and the story of his death.
But recently changes in my life have cause me to pause and reflect on losing my dear, dear son.
July’s come and go for our family … they are different in every way. We still participate. Barbeques, fireworks, gatherings, weddings, little children running around…..but they are all different now.
Somehow … sometimes … my husband and I decline invitations because of the heartache that still surrounds July.
You see, July 10th, 2004, my son was killed by a drunk and drugged driver. He was doing what many young adults do — hanging out with friends and enjoying the summer. He and his friends decided to drive to get pizza. But the driver had drugs and alcohol in her system. She lost control of the vehicle, and it veered off into the river. The driver and another person escaped. My Dustin did not, and I often wander about his last moments and how scared he must have been.
We seem to want that day to go by unnoticed – but it never does. The heartache is real, the absence of his laughter is real, thinking of what he would being doing is real. Our new normal is real.
I know I write these words and perhaps it doesn’t sound like I am in a better place after all these years … I am, but it is different without your child. You move forward, and I have chosen to pick up the banner, as so many of you have and advocate for a world of NO MORE VICTIMS®. I advocate to save lives and to support the families we could not save from this heartache of losing a loved one to a 100% preventable crime of drunk driving.
My life has changed, my husband and other son, Casey’s life has changed.
I do miss Dustin so terribly … So this is why I ask all of you to take personal responsibility this holiday to plan ahead for your festivities. Plan to have a non-drinking designated driver if your day include alcohol.
And remember, YOU ALWAYS HAVE A PLACE AT MADD!
If you need to talk, get a hug, or find a new way to cope….please call us, we are here for you. The 24/7 National Victim Help Line is 1-877-MADD-HELP. We want to help. We want to be here.
Until we speak again, I love you all. My heart is with you, be safe over the holiday and continue the fight MADD started in 1980 and moves closer every day, a time when there will be NO MORE VICTIMS®.