Today I have a guest blogger, my friend Karen Raduenz. Like many of us, she had a child. A daughter, Heidi. But now she doesn't. Here's Karen's story in her own words.
It was around 9 am on Sunday, November 2, 2008. My husband had gone fishing with my father, and my mother and I were planning to attend church.
As I was getting dressed, I heard my doorbell ring. It was my daughter’s best friend, she was screaming and crying. I told her to calm down and tell me what was going on. She told me my daughter had been in a bad accident. She had been getting calls and texts saying my daughter had died.
She proceeded to tell me about the Halloween party my daughter had attended in Ragley. She then said that a group from the party was supposed to be going to eat at IHOP, around 3 am. Since there were too many people to fit in one vehicle, they took several. All the cars had arrived at IHOP except the one my daughter was riding in. The other friends were waiting for them to arrive, but when they didn’t arrive, or answer calls or texts, they went back to look for them.
When they got back to Ragley, they came upon a wreck site. They recognized the car as the one my daughter had gotten into. The State Police would not let them near the car or the wreck site.
I called my husband and told him what was going on and told him to come home. My thoughts were that she was really OK, she is somewhere else, safe and sound. After all, she was supposed to be spending the night at a good friend’s house. My neighbor came over to check on me. Other friends of my daughter began driving up and asking if the rumors were true. I had children all over my driveway, crying and distraught.
Moments later, two State Troopers pulled into my driveway. My heart sank inside my stomach. They proceeded to walk me into the house. My legs felt like Jello. We all sat down and a State Trooper handed me a cell phone. I picked up the melted phone and just looked at it, I was so confused. Then I saw her picture on the screen.
After that, my body just went completely numb. The State Trooper expressed his condolences, and told me that telling someone that a loved one, especially a child, had died, was the hardest part of his job. They remained with me until my husband got home.
The next few days were like a fog. I had never known what real pain felt like. Everyday, day after day, you wait for your child to walk through the door and tell you about their day, their problems, or just spend time and hang out. It feels like your heart has been ripped out of your chest. You blame yourself for not protecting them. You have bad dreams, and cannot sleep at night. You hear a song that reminds you of her, or you see her friends and wish things could go back to the way they were.
I know one thing for sure, you are never going to be the same person again. When you lose someone, it opens your eyes to love more, understand more, and never take life for granted. In the fraction of a moment, four children died in that tragic car accident caused by a drunken driver.
I am writing this story to go out not only to the young people, but also to the adults and parents. If you have been drinking, don’t drive. If the person you are riding with has been drinking, don’t get back in the car with them, and don’t let them drive. It could not only save your life, but possibly theirs or someone else’s life also.
There are always special events coming our way. Homecoming, Christmas, New Years, Proms, are but a few. Parents, please take the time to talk to your children about what to do in these situations. Tell them they can call you anytime, and you will go get them. Yes, it may not always be convenient, but it sure beats the heck out of not getting to ever see or talk to them again.
Parents, don’t be naïve, and think that your child will never do anything wrong. You must let your child know that you will love them no matter what, so that they will make the right decision when the time comes. And young people, don’t think that just because you’re young, that you are invincible, you’re not. Please think about the pain and suffering that your family will go through if something were to happen to you.
I hope my story encourages parents and children to communicate, and that friends will also think about the possible pain and agony that can result from letting someone do something that you really knew in your heart, wasn’t right in the first place.
May God Bless everyone who reads this, and guide them in their hearts, as to the right path to take, when faced with this type of decision.