by Elaine Ernst Schneider
Your dad and I aren’t husband and wife anymore, but we are still your Mom and Dad. Only we can truly understand the other’s grief in losing you. If only you had walked away from that car when you saw that the kids were drinking… Why did you get in their car? Why did you take the chance? Didn’t you know that you would break our hearts and forever rob us of the joy of having you in our lives?
As I see you lying there so lifeless, how I wish I could take your place. How I wish I were the one they will soon be laying in the ground. How will your father and I ever learn to live without you? We will miss your vibrant laugh and wonderful sense of humor. I will miss seeing how your eyes sparkle when you are excited about something and want to share it with me. Your dad will miss that familiar page that says “Call me quick! I’ve got news.”
So many dreams and goals that you had. Now these will never be fulfilled because of one empty decision – one poor choice – one moment where you forgot to think before you acted. What might God have made of your life? I wonder what His plans were for you? Now we’ll never know. We’ll never get to see you grow into adulthood, meet your future husband, or hold out our arms to hold your first baby. It all came to a dead stop the night the car crashed into that cement embankment. I’ll never be able to drive by that place again, to see your blood and the blood of your friends splattered against the cold cement, a testimony to teenage rebellion – teenagers who thought they had all the answers and risked their lives to prove it.
How will I ever walk by your room again and see the pretty bedspread and curtains that your dad bought for you? Or will I have to take them down to be packed in a box that I can never open because I simply cannot bear to see the things that remind me of you? How will I explain to your sister how I let it happen? Was there something else I should have done? Something else I should have said? Why wouldn’t you listen? And what am I to tell your sister’s child when she looks in the family albums and finds that the pictures of her auntie suddenly stop? How do I explain to her that there are no more pictures because there is no more you?
I know that teenagers think they have all the answers. You didn’t want to believe that your dad and I were actually young once and faced many of the same temptations. You didn’t want to believe that what we were telling you was the truth – that alcohol and drugs would rob you of your life. You didn’t want to believe that you couldn’t play around with those things – that even dabbling with them was serious. You didn’t want to believe that – yes – just one time could damage you. You didn’t want to believe us that we were telling you these things not only because they are the truth, but because we loved you so very much and were so afraid that this very day would come if you didn’t change the direction you were headed in. And now that day is here — the day that came from getting in a car with alcohol just one time. And now you are lying there so still. No more laughter. No more sparkle in your eyes. Just an empty shell where our beautiful baby girl used to live. Throughout life, there are many temptations to do things that might be harmful. Sometimes teenagers don’t understand their parents’ rules because they haven’t lived as long and they don’t see the hidden dangers. Wisdom is learning to face those temptations, think about what God and your parents would have you do, and then just say “no.” If only you had said no.
Mom and Dad
A postscript: My daughter has recently faced some temptations with friends. If fact, one such “friend” even set her up to take the fall for something at school that my daughter did not do. It has been a hard lesson but only scratches the surface of what could happen when you trust your life to the wrong people. I wrote this letter to her to open her eyes a little wider. She cried and I have cried, but perhaps the letter sent to her TODAY may save us from the need of ever having to face these things in reality tomorrow. I think my daughter has decided that her choice of friends may be one of the most important decisions that she could make. If you have a teenager, please feel free to follow my lead in this letter and use it. At first blush, it may seem overly dramatic or perhaps even harsh. But the reality IS that dramatic and the loss would indeed be that cruel and harsh. Teenagers don’t see that. They are filled with recklessness and thoughts of “It will never happen to me.” Perhaps a heavy dose of reality will reel them in until they can grow enough in maturity to know that they are not invincible.