I need to get something off my chest.

In 1997 my mom and her fiancé were heading home from their work trip from Kona. Usually they take the Hamakua route to and back but decided to see the volcano instead. Little did they know that their decision to go a different way would change their lives forever.

As they headed toward home, with six children awaiting their arrival, something happened.

I can remember that day like it was yesterday. I had something exciting to share with them. I couldn’t wait for them to get home. Mom had called and said they were on their way home. Tell me, what kid actually cleaned the house and did their chores without their parents telling them? We rarely ever did. And that night was no different. When my mom made that call we got to cleaning. Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

My mom and David never came home that night. Or the next. In fact, David never came home again.

You see, as David drove mom and him home that night a drunk driver crossed the center lane and headed straight for them. If it wasn’t for David’s quick reaction we would have lost them both that night. In a few days it would be 19 years since that awful night.

Today, I was reminded of that awful night. Not in a malicious way. But, reminded none the less.

Every day 28 people in America die from drunk driving. And every two minutes someone is injured from a drunk driving crash. One-third of alcohol involved traffic fatalities are passengers, occupants in other vehicles or pedestrians. All because someone got behind the wheel and felt that they were okay to drive.

You are not okay to drive. A buzz is still drunk driving. Coffee, a cold shower, exercise won’t make you not drunk. Only time.

I beg of you, please give yourself time. I cannot condone you for drinking. I can’t judge you for how little or how much you drink. I can’t scrutinize you for consuming any alcohol in your body. But, I can tell you that life is fragile. You are never promised tomorrow. And neither is anyone else on that road with you. Think about what you are doing before getting behind that wheel.

When David passed away it ripped our world apart. I never saw my mom so broken. This is the same woman who raised six kids and a cancer striken father. This is the same woman that worked multiple jobs so her kids wouldn’t go without. This is the same woman that didn’t sleep because her kids were more important to her than her own well-being. But, she was broken. And so were we.

I can’t remember how long it was, but we all slept in the living room for a while after David passed. None of us wanted to be alone in our rooms. Clinging on to the love of family as we were made so aware of how fragile and unforgiving life could be. A drunk driver – someone who thought he was okay to drive – changed the outcome of our lives. What makes it worse is he was never sorry for killing my step-dad. He was never sorry for severely injuring my mom. He was never sorry for getting behind that wheel. When he was found innocent he would walk around our town with his head held high. When he would see any of us he would smirk. The bastard didn’t care.

Well, I care.

I care enough to ask you to think of your loved ones. It isn’t only you who has to suffer. It isn’t only your life that gets put behind bars. It isn’t only your life that gets hospitalized. It isn’t only your life that dies. Don’t be ashamed to say, “I need time. I need a driver.” Don’t be ashamed to say, “I need help.”

Arrive alive. xoxo