Taking The Wheel

This week has been an emotionally-loaded one for me. 
In a very healing, therapeutic way.
I spent the last two days at Friendswood High School helping with Shattered Dreams. I've been on hand all four times they've done this drinking-and-driving prevention program to read the obituaries of the living dead who are pulled from classrooms to represent drunk-driving fatality stats on any given day. Four years ago, I also participated as the mom of one of the mock-car-crash victims. 
It was intense, to be sure.

Scene from the mock car crash - Friendswood High School 2014
Click {here} to experience the 2012 Shattered Dreams production. That one was difficult for me because I had to read the obituary of my son's girlfriend as she was removed from the junior English class they were both in together. Tears filled my eyes as I imagined what it must be like for Jacob to sit there and hear me read about her life and death.

This year, not only was I there as a counselor, but I was also there as the victim of an intoxication assault. First, I was asked to speak at the parents' meeting. Then I was invited to address the participating students at their all-night retreat. Yesterday, I was approached about speaking to the thousand juniors and seniors at today's mock Memorial Service celebrating the lives of those two who passed away in the mock crash in front of school yesterday.
 Of course I said yes to all three opportunities.

Using a slideshow of the pictures that my husband took at the junk yard when he went to retrieve my personal effects from our totaled vehicle, I started by inviting participants to take the wheel of the car that I was driving when 
I was hit head-on 15 months ago.

Then I shared my story from the wreck ... 
the sights, 
the sounds, 
the smells,
the sensations ...

... to recovery.
I talked about stakeholders and how that,
even though this wasn't a fatality collision,
my life was forever changed for me and my family that day.

And, like the splintered glass of that shatter-proof windshield,

there were a lot of broken shards to try to
piece {and peace} back together.
With ortho appointments.
Physical therapy.
Treating doctor visits.
Trauma counseling.
Anxiety meds and more.

And I ended with how it was 
gratitude and God 
that kept me going,
even when the going was grueling.

Some drunk-driving victims aren't as fortunate.
They die or they're left paralyzed.
Lives needlessly lost,
negatively impacted,
and forever changed. 

My hope is that this experience might help deter
someone from taking the wheel and 
driving under the influence ... or 
from making the mistake of
jumping into a car with someone who is.
I encouraged them to plan ahead,
to find a designated driver {or be one!},
to sharpen their refusal skills 
in the event that they'd rather not drink at all
and to drink responsibly once they're of age.

I reminded them that every day they get a choice.
They can do something helpful or something hurtful.
And I encouraged them to commit to helping someone
who might be impaired from making one of those
life-changing mistakes from which they won't get a do over.
Because nothing happens in isolation.
And the effects of our choices ripple out and back.
Every day.


  1. Wow, Barbara, what a powerful experience for students and staff! Thank you for sharing your experiences with students and being a part of this program!

    EduKate and Inspire

  2. How very brave you are and how very thankful we are to have the accident be "a thing of the past." Thank you for using your experience to help others make positive choices. Just another example of your giving heart...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  3. I salute your school for coming up with an annual presentation like Shattered Dreams. A lot of teens are involved in car accidents, and I think tackling the matter at first hand is the best way to reach out to them. That production will help raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence, and I am proud of you for giving a helping hand in the production. Thanks for sharing that! All the best to you! :)

    Roman Barnes @ Johnson & Johnson Law Firm


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