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Grayson was handsome and smart, but he hated to be thought of as a nerd. He enjoyed playing his guitars, video games, Z cars, sports, food, and hanging out with his family and friends. He was quick to laugh and always ready to have fun. My husband died in 2007 and Grayson, my only child, and I had held tight to each other to get through that. Two years later, we thought the bad days were behind us. He graduated high school and was taking some time off before starting college. He and his step-brother had found jobs with a sprinkler company. He was enjoying the work, his co-workers, and his customers. We were looking forward to the coming of summer, going camping, making music, and training his puppy, Jax, to do tricks.
It was Tuesday, May 19th. Grayson and I were on the telephone. He was done with work for the day and heading home. He ended the call by telling me he loved me. The next time I saw my son he was lying on a gurney in the emergency room. There was a tube down his throat and blood in his beautiful, silver- blonde hair. He was dead. He had given his brother a ride home from work on his motorcycle. A woman had pulled out from the driveway of her apartment into traffic without looking. She had cut him off. His bike struck her car and he and his brother were thrown over the car and onto the road. He died in the street less than a block from his home. He was not wearing a helmet.
The woman was uninjured. She told the officers that she did not see the boys. Other witness statements, including that of the passenger in her car, reported seeing them. She offered no other excuse for her actions. One week after the woman walked out of the courtroom with a conviction for failure to yield, she posted pictures of herself at a party on Facebook. In three years, the traffic violation will no longer appear on her driving record. Her life will go on as usual. Grayson will never do all the things he had planned. I will never hear his laugh or his voice again.
My last memory of my son is when I identified his body for cremation at the mortuary. Grayson’s decision to not wear a helmet did not cause the accident; the actions of a careless driver did. Grayson believed he was a good driver, but you can’t just be “good.” You have to anticipate what other drivers may do. Being in the right doesn’t make your tombstone any easier for your family to look at. You need to take the extra safety precautions – wear a helmet, buckle your seat belt, and anticipate the actions of other drivers who will value your life much less than their own. Teens, take care of yourselves. There are people who love you and need you so much.