A parent's worst nightmare happened on New Year's Day a few miles from my house.
A boy (actually young man), a senior in college, was out doing what a lot of people were doing on New Year's Eve; having a good time with friends. He was not from here, he was visiting and enjoying our well publicized New Year's Eve festivities. Reports say he was at a bar, then went to an after party with his friends. Then, he left the party alone.
How many times have we stressed to our children that traveling in a pack is safer than being alone. I cannot imagine that it is just me that says this. Stay in lit areas, have a friend with you, if you need a ride home, don't ever hesitate to call.
For whatever reason, this young man left the party and at 4am was laying, allegedly passed out, in the middle of a road. It was freezing. Our roads are not often lit with street lights. It was dark. A police officer received a call of a break in (also a rare thing in our town) and was headed toward it. He did not see the boy laying in the road and allegedly ran him over, immediately got out, saw that it was a person and started CPR.
The young man died. He was a great kid, a multiple sport star athlete about to graduate in May.
What can we learn from a story this horrific? As parents we worry about our children constantly. The scenarios we make in our heads of things that could happen are probably what horror movies are based on. I truly do not think that our children can relate to the fears we, as parents, have until they have children of their own. So, as parents, all we can do is stress over and over to our children the dangers of drinking too much, drugs, and going out alone while walking the fine line of letting them live their lives without scaring them half to death with our fears.
We watch them drive away in a car and pray to God that they come back in one piece. I have found that my faith in God is much stronger now. I give thanks to my guardian angels who are in Heaven watching over me and my "tribe". I say, "have faith" at least a few times a day.
The unfortunate outcome from this weekend is that it did not end with one dead person. It ended with a family devastated, a police officer devastated, a close group of friends devastated and many parents watching their worst nightmare play out in the news.