October 17, 1997

October 17th is quite a day for me. I’m sitting at O’Hare airport right now on my way to Tampa with a gigantic pain in my soul. In fact right now I’m starting to sweat even thinking about it.

October 17, 1997: one of my really close friends, Alli, got killed in a car accident. She and two other friends were driving and a drunk driver ran a red light at 90 mph and hit them square. Everyone, including the passenger in the drunk driver’s car were killed instantly … except the drunk driver himself. We were juniors in high school and it was the day before homecoming. I had the hugest crush on her, I looked up to her brother as a hero of mine and I loved her little sister and her mom and dad.

I call her family every year still on this day. What do you say – hey, how’s today treating you? There’s not much to say other than I love them with all that I am, always have and always will. I still visit Alli’s grave when I get out to the suburbs, and her picture is hanging on the grave. I look at the picture and talk to her, like she’s still here. It’s been so long, yet I remember every moment of how and when I found out as clearly as I am sitting here right now … and then to carry Alli’s casket from the church to the hearse to the grave is one of the most humbling moments of my life.

I’m not going to make this long nor am I going to gush about the time we had together. All I want is for everyone who reads this to do just one thing for me – don’t get behind a wheel of a car after drinking. I’m 27 now, and we were all 16 when Alli was killed. Our friends are all married now, and some are having kids … something that we’ll never see for her. Just think before you ever get behind the wheel, or in the car, with a driver that has drunk alcohol.

Much love.

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Big Happy

    when i was in the 6th grade a friend of mine that i had since kindergarden went to ucsf for emergency surgery because one of her kidneys failed. the surgery was simple but the anesthesiologist was hung over from a rough night of drinking and didn't bother to look at here chart and gave her a general anesthetic instead of a local and her heart couldn't take it and she died i still think of her on a daily basis because she was such a wonderful person.I appreciate you sharing your experience.

  • Diana

    I share your desire and request. I lost a friend who was the drunk driver. It was hard to deal with, but I'm so thankful the other people involved survived. I also have friends who have been killed by drunk drivers. It's horrifying how common driving drunk is.

  • susan la veau

    i remember that day all to well. i was friends with all 3 of them.nothing will ever be as sad as going to the wakes and funerals of 3 friends who were killed over a deadly choice.and it was a choice that man made.not a mistake.i hope others listen and make the right choice not to drink and drive or get in the car with someone who has.