On the morning of December 10th, 2003, I stood at my front door, waiting.
The police arrived a short time later and, with a few words, they shattered my world so completely I will never be the same again.
Our beautiful, 21-year-old daughter, Jennifer was dead. She was taken from us by an impaired driver while she was on her way to work. Our only child died alone in a ditch and we never got the chance to say goodbye.
Jennifer’s body was so destroyed by the impact we weren’t allowed to see her at the funeral home. We couldn’t hold her hand one last time.
It was impossible to process. We had just decorated for Christmas. Our dearest daughter’s gifts were already wrapped and nestled under the bright, twinkling tree. How could she just be gone – senselessly taken away by the preventable actions of a drunk driver?
In the weeks that followed Jennifer’s funeral, we gave away all her Christmas gifts to charity. We didn’t celebrate the holidays that year. We haven’t been able to celebrate them in the years since. An impaired driver cancelled Christmas for us.
Losing my daughter almost destroyed me. I became addicted to sleeping pills because every time I closed my eyes, I couldn’t stop imagining what her body must have looked like.
My husband and I have stopped going to family functions. We feel like outsiders. People don’t know what to say to us. We don’t know what to say to them. All of our family has grandchildren now and it breaks my heart that Jennifer didn’t live to marry and have kids of her own.
There’s not a day that goes by when something doesn’t remind us of Jennifer, remind of us of our loss, remind us of her loss.
My grief was so great I contemplated suicide more times than I can count. I left my home only when I really had to. I couldn’t cope and didn’t know if I could carry on without someone to talk to. And so, I reached out to MADD Canada.
The victim support I received was phenomenal. They gave me a way to restore portions of my soul in a positive way. I started volunteering with MADD Canada and have made so many dear friends – people who I can share my experience with.
Sharing my story, like I’m doing today, makes me feel like I’m helping others by raising awareness about the terrible consequences of impaired driving. In a sense, it gives some positivity to an otherwise negative and tragic event.
You do the same with your generosity. Your support for Victim Support Services helps thousands of families begin to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. You fund critical awareness and education programs like Campaign 911, Project Red Ribbon and the School Program. You help strengthen impaired driving laws across the country.
And today, during this season of giving, I hope you’ll find it in your heart to make a special gift. Survivors and victims like me need to know everything is being done to stop this crime from destroying more precious lives. We need your help to live again.
My husband and I won’t be celebrating the holidays this year. But the last thing we want is for impaired driving to cancel Christmas for you, your neighbours or any other family. Please support MADD Canada’s programs as generously as you can.