There's a typical question. How many times in your life have you asked yourself the very same?
We graduate high school and we want to know, "What do I do now?' We finish college and we wonder, "What do I do now?" We get married, have children, begin a new job, move to new state. The list goes on and on, but always we ask the question, we try to plan, we ask for advice, and we keep going forward.
That is unless someone you love dies, or as in our case is killed. When that happens, we stop moving forward. We wonder what to do and we grieve. When someone dies, especially brutally and unexpectedly, we are additionally taken aback - our lives get off the forward moving track and often exist permanently on a path that others can't (and I hope won't ever) understand. This is not a life event that anyone ever plans for. In fact, most of us are sure that nothing like this will happen in our lives. When it does, we repeatedly ask ourselves, "What do we do now?" and the answer is ethereal, impalpable, and unacceptable because the answer would mean moving on without the one we love.
We've all done some stupid stuff in our lives. We take chances because we feel indestructible, maybe even a bit immortal. Most of the people we know were "lucky" at one time or another. We refer to those times as "blessed" or that someone had an "angel watching over them". I can tell you this now because my parents have both died: I jumped off the cliffs overlooking the waterfalls in my hometown. A small group of us all took our turns, knowing that there was a big rock somewhere in the crashing water below that could do damage. We jumped anyway. It was thrilling and we were loud and exuberant as we all talked about how to do this - safely. That is until one of us was hurt. The blood was undeniable and frightening. It ran from his hip to his toes and only partly because it was wet did it seem to be so endless. "Luckily" it was just an injury, but even so the jumping was done and I don't think any of us really looked at danger in quite the same way after that day. I decided that "what I do now" was to stop taking danger for granted and plan to do fun things that posed a lot less risk. The idea that something so much worse could have happened haunts me.
On the flip side of this topic is the question, "What have I done?" and though it may seem odd to pose that here, it is I think, directly related, because when things go wrong, we have to ask ourselves both questions.
When the young woman who killed Robert was headed for work on August 14 realized she was drifting across the centerline of traffic, she had to decide what to do next. And she did the same moments later when she hit the shoulder. She decided to turn back into traffic and that is when she killed Robert, instantly. Through the shock, she had to ask herself both of these questions, "What do I do now" and "What have I done?" Her decision to drive distracted had, in those very moments, tragic consequences for Robert and, in the long run, tragic consequences for all of those who loved him. I'd like to believe that it has changed her life as well and that she carries the weight of her decisions with her daily. I'd like to think that we are not the only ones who wrestle with these questions and struggle to discover an answer that makes sense.
When you get in your car to run an errand or go visit a friend, you'll find that you are constantly weighing the risks at every turn, at every intersection and light. You see the oncoming traffic and you gauge its speed. You decide to believe the blinker you see and you assume that the other drivers know you're there. And then, as you pull into traffic, you hear a familiar sound. The children in your backseat recognize it too. You have a message... "What Do You Do Now?"
Research shows that the majority of drivers will answer that sound. We are so drawn and so connected to our phones that we can barely resist. The most common reason now for a crash is distraction and distractions come in many colors - changing the radio station, checking the gps, reaching in the backseat, reading, leaning over to pick up our dropped sunglasses, putting on lipstick, car karaoke, and so many others. When you choose to drive distracted, you are also choosing, sooner or later, to kill or be killed. Then you will truly ask, "What have I done" and "What do I do now?" and then it will be too late.
What do we do now?
#JustDrive is just a start.
"What will we do now?"
We will be at this Saturday's walk in Monticello with a team to honor Robert's memory.
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"What can you do now?"
Take the pledge this Saturday, April 29. #JustDrive
"What must you do now?"
Plan to join the walk to remember.