Twenty years ago today, an impaired driver - a repeat offender - hit Richard's parents on a weekday afternoon. Richard's Mom spent a month in hospital and had a long, difficult recovery. Tragically, we lost his Dad.
Two decades later, we've been reflecting on the huge, continuing impact of one driver's decision to have two beers with lunch, which put him well above the blood alcohol limit.
Dr. Ehrlich only got to enjoy a few weeks of semi-retirement after dedicating many years to patients in his family medical practice. His family lost their loving husband, brother and father. Richard lost his mentor in health care. Many good friends have dearly missed his company. He and my mother-in-law never got to go hiking around the world or spend time together in retirement. He never met his grandchildren or their mother so they only know him through stories. His community lost a caring volunteer. He never got to use his new snowshoes, attend his younger son's wedding or grow old. The list goes on and on as we imagine an alternate universe where that driver chose a non-alcoholic beverage on a snowy day.
There is no neat conclusion to this post. I'd like society to keep moving toward taking impaired driving more seriously. Some people may think we're already there but we're not. If an impaired driver is not involved in a collision (the word "accident" is inaccurate), many people view that offence as less serious or less deserving of jail than other crimes, especially when the criminal is an otherwise respectable person. Many people find it difficult to speak up when a friend shouldn't drive. Some people have trouble limiting their own drinking before they drive. There is still a long way to go but we can make a difference for other families.