Thursday, June 12, 2008 began like any other ordinary day; unfortunately, it didn’t continue that way... As I look down at my wrist to the pink and black bracelet resting there, I am reminded just how quickly things happen. Sometimes one small decision, a mindless choice, really, can alter your life forever. You see, dying changes everything…
My husband John and I met for lunch that day; as we waited, his phone rang. He stepped outside to take the call…I assumed it was because of bad reception. It was actually because John couldn’t understand the caller; it was Brian’s friend, trying to tell us our 17-year old son had been in an accident…he was unconscious and bleeding, somewhere in Pineville… Exactly one weeke earlier, almost to the minute, we had finally given Brian his car…a light blue 2000 Honda Civic; exactly three weeks earlier, he got his full driver’s license.
From the moment John received that telephone call at 11:51 a.m., our life became a waking nightmare. Brian gained his freedom and control with those car keys, and now he was in serious trouble… The greatest fear of every parent was now our reality; he was injured and alone. We were overly aggressive and reckless driving there, desperate to reach him and afraid of what we would find when we did. Brian was taken by ambulance to the closest hospital, and then flown by helicopter to CMC’s main trauma center. In less than two hours, it was all over… The words of the surgeon and the look on his face are burned into my heart and soul... “I’m sorry; your son didn’t make it. He died.” Brian never regained consciousness from the moment of impact; there were no goodbyes. Life as we knew it was over… Our entire family died that day; we are no longer the people we were.
It took many months of grieving before we were able to acknowledge a very simple truth. Our beloved son and brother, Brian, lost his life due to a series of seemingly inconsequential decisions that many of us take for granted daily. This horrific chain of events began with a distraction, one that is quite common in our City and beyond. Brian looked down at his cell phone to make a call. He looked up and followed his friend’s truck across oncoming traffic, never looking to the left. His car was struck in the driver’s door by a truck; the force of the collision spun his car around and it was hit again by a second truck in almost the exact same location on the passenger side.
This journey through the valley of shadows and sorrow is difficult and never ending; we struggle every day to be strong and carry on without him. In an effort to bring some good from his loss, we decided to give away pink and black silicone bracelets in exchange for a simple pledge: in memory of Brian, don’t use cell phones while driving. Pink was Brian’s favorite color, and he loved to wear calf-high black socks while playing golf or wearing sandals.
This trivial token in swirled pink and black is an instant message of a different sort… Our greatest hope is that through sharing Brian’s story, someone will make the wiser choice and ignore their cell phone while driving. If it saves at least one life and another family is spared the pain that is our constant companion, then Brian’s death will not have been in vain. The fact of the matter is this…there is no call, text or anything else on a cell phone so important that it cannot wait until you get where you are going or you can pull safely off the road to decide.
Please, please, don’t lose your life over the press of a button. ‘Remember Brian 06-12-08’