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.