21 Aug 2014
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You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone ~ Joni Mitchell


I don’t know when it happened but it seems like all of a sudden I can’t stop thinking about the March accident involving the four juniors from Silver Lake High School. I read all the coverage. I check for updates. I can’t put it out of my mind. I think about it at least once a day.

I have been trying to understand why I’m so preoccupied with it.

It hasn’t touched my life in any significant way. I don’t know any of the families involved.  I just know that I can’t stop thinking about it. Perhaps it’s because my son and his friends are high school students that are just starting to drive and I dread that phone call more than anything in the world. Perhaps it’s because I remember all the stupid decisions my friends and I made as teenagers, and how many close calls we had, and how most, but not all, of us made it out of our teens unscathed. Perhaps it’s because no matter how much information you put out there, it’s never enough. Perhaps it’s because it was just so preventable. I’ll probably never know.

I do know one thing; my heart breaks for all the families.

I cannot imagine, not even for one second, what any of them are going through. I’m fairly certain that’s a defense mechanism. There are some tragedies that cannot ever be understood unless lived through. I’m glad that two of the students seem to be physically healing and I hope they work on healing emotionally as well. I’m worried about the girl who is struggling in rehab to get better and hope that her recovery continues to be positive. I think about the girl who is still unresponsive and comatose. Mostly though, I think about her parents and the disorder of their lives.

I'm overcome with so much heartache for them that I can barely breathe. I don’t know how they manage to get through the days; where they find the strength. I imagine them sitting by her bedside willing her to get better praying to whom- and what- ever to make their daughter whole again, knowing that they’ll accept the smallest gesture as a major victory – a hand squeeze, a movement, anything. I wish I could find a way to take it back for them. To make her whole again. To make them all whole again. But these things can’t be taken back. Life leaves very little opportunity for do-overs. There just remains the residue of broken lives. Futures altered.

Traumatic brain injury is not a joke. It is a very real and very serious consequence for not paying attention when driving, for driving impaired, or simply being a passenger that decides not to wear a seat belt.

I’m not usually a proponent of the “scared straight” method of parenting but in this case, all the research points to preventative measures actually make a difference. Massachusetts has the lowest incidence of motor vehicle fatalities for teens ( 3.9 out of 100,000) because of aggressive prevention methods and educational campaigns.

Please, sit down with your kids. Explain, as graphically and pointedly as possible, the dangers of not just driving impaired but also about being a passenger with an impaired driver and how neither is acceptable.

Push home the fact that seat belts save lives and dramatically reduce injuries.

If you’ve already talked to them about it, talk to them again.

To learn more about Traumatic Brain Injuries, click here

Barbara Mulvey-Welsh is a mother, writer and blogger raising kids and a husband in Plymouth. Check out her blog "Did I Say that Outloud" at  barbaramulveywelsh.blogspot.com. Use caution when reading around the family, there is some strong language.

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