By Cheryl Jones:
Even after 9 ½ years of telling “my story,” about the knock I received at my door, I still feel the sting of tears swelling up in my eyes as I share this journey again.
In 2003, our family was made up of my husband, our two sons and three grandchildren. Our youngest was 22 and just beginning his life. He was building a future for himself and a future with the girl he had been in love with for 3 years. He had a ready smile for everyone and never met a stranger. He loved sports, his school, his friends and his family. A memory I will cherish forever is when he chose to celebrate his high school graduation on a trip to the mountains with his family instead of following the crowd, who were beach bound and ready to party.
After graduation, he managed to land a job where his dad and I both worked for years. He established a home of his own very close to us. He loved his job and the home he was making for himself. When he wasn’t working, he loved to fish, hunt, camp down by the river, play golf, and spend time with family, his nephews, his friends and especially his girlfriend. Our family shared so many days laughing and joking around with each other, talking about the future and enjoying each other. The day in late September of 2003 was no different. After a busy day together, my son received a call and was taking down an order of food to deliver for the night shift where we worked. He was set to be at work the following morning at 7am. He headed out the door with a smile and said like he did a thousand times before, “Mom. Dad. I’ll be right back, don’t wait up on me. I may go to my house and sleep. I love y’all and will see you later.”
The next thing we knew, there was a knock at the door. This knock will forever be embedded in my mind. I just knew it had to be my son messing with me. However, when I opened the door I was face-to-face with an officer and the Coroner. Immediately, I just knew. The moments that followed are a blur to us. I knew this was a horrible nightmare and at any moment I would just wake up. But the truth is, at one minute after midnight on September 26, 2003, my son’s young life was over and it was taken by a drunk driver. The next day, the 1st Sergeant came to our home and as we sat at the dining room table he said the words “Drunk Driver” and the name of the person. The words “Drunk Driver” were hard enough to hear but the name he mentioned, the person who killed our son, was someone we knew and worked with every day. He was coming home from a pre-wedding party and was so impaired he could not even hold his Jeep in his lane. My son was killed instantly.
They told me I went to the bond hearing and made my son’s funeral
arrangements. They told me about the long lines at his viewing and
about my son’s funeral. I do not remember any of these things. I do
not remember anything that was said or the people who were there
but I know my son was loved by so many people. I saw all the names
later in a book but I can’t remember. For a little over 2 years I existed
but I did not live. My son’s friends were getting married and having
babies. I accepted the fact that the girl who should have been my
daughter-in-law would not be and my son would never have the chance
to get married, have children, grow old and enjoy life because of one
choice someone made.
I knew firsthand the whole dynamics of the many people who were affected by just one crash and the devastation it causes in so many areas of a victim’s life. I began to volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). I chartered a chapter of The Compassionate Friends for people who lost children, grandchildren and siblings and I also serve as peer support for the Families of Highway Fatalities. I have found great healing through these roles.
I had a grandson die from cancer and it was hard to say goodbye to him. However, there is no comparison to the feeling I had when I was told my son had been killed by a drunk driver. I beg of you. Don’t make the choice that causes your family to make funeral arrangements for you. Don’t be the cause of a knock at the door. Do whatever it takes to keep from ending up behind bars and having to live knowing you killed an innocent person. PLEASE! I know this life is temporary and I will join my son in Heaven one day. That thought keeps me going every day. Until then, I will try to save others from the horrible pain I have suffered as a mother, who loves her sons. It is a hard thing to deal with daily but I am a Victim Survivor now! Please do not drive impaired!!