Fifteen years ago today, I was a typical twenty-one year old college student. Carefree, reckless, and like most of my peers, seemingly immortal. Imagine my shock, when, on this day fifteen years ago, I found out that my best friend and his roommate were killed by a drunk driver. This was something that shouldn’t happen to us, couldn’t happen to us, yet it did.
At the time the grief was so overwhelming, so unstoppable, I sunk into a depression and eventually a sickness of my own. I spent days, weeks, months, imagining my friend, who had been supine in the back seat of the car, falling asleep on the trip home that night and never waking up again. I imagined the force of the impact as the drunk driver hit them head on after entering the interstate the wrong direction. I imagined the weight of the luggage crushing my friend, the injuries not relating to the impact of the crash that killed him. I replayed it thousands of times in my head, and spent a lot of time imagining all the scenarios that would have led, instead, to my friend arriving home safe and sound. I zealously went to his grave every week with red and white roses, symbolizing friendship, to place at his headstone. I saw him and heard him everywhere, all around me, and every time I closed my eyes I saw him at our last meeting, in the stairwell of the Humanities building at
After fifteen years I can’t say I’m over his death, and I don’t expect I ever will be. My thoughts on a day to day basis are no longer focused on him, sure, but he is, as his gravestone read, forever in my heart. He was responsible for awakening me from a dreamless sleep, a sterile, mindless existence that I had plunged into as a result of a cynical and depressed outlook on life. He taught me how to live again and yet, he had to die. I will never understand why.
I also can’t seem to find it in my heart to forgive the drunk driver responsible for their tragic accident. I’m not a religious person, it isn’t mandate for me to forgive, but I still feel a moral responsibility to forgive, yet I can’t. Even the fact that the drunk driver was sixteen years old doesn’t help me, in fact, it makes me even more angry. Why a sixteen year old was allowed to drive in the first place, since he was on allergy medicine, blows my mind. The fact that this sixteen year old also decided to imbibe alcohol on top of the allergy medicine makes the crime unforgiveable. And the death of the sixteen year old in the same accident does not settle the score. Why can’t I feel sorry for the kid and his family? Why can’t I forgive and move on? Why are my mind and heart so small in this case?
I suppose I’ll never come to terms with the answers to these questions or the death of my friend. For now I will simply remember him with love and fondness, and hope that some day I will learn to forgive.