Twenty five years. A quarter of a century. It doesn't seem possible. That's how long it's been since my sister Michelle was killed in a car accident at 11:00 in the morning by a man whose blood alcohol was .10, over the legal limit of .08 for drunk driving. At 11:00 in the morning. She was meeting her friends for a late breakfast. The car in front of her veered off the road because they saw the car that had crossed the center line. My sister did not.
Two cars, colliding. Two cars, containing 3 people, 3 lives, 3 sets of memories, 3 families...that would never be the same. Two cars, traveling at least 55 miles per hour. Impact.
My sister had gotten a hair cut one time when she was about 16 or 17. I believe now it would classify as a mullet, but back then, it was all the rage. It was a little spiky on top. A family friend asked her if she had become a punk rocker. (This WAS the '80's after all.) And so from that day on, she was "Punker." So it kind of seems odd that when I tell her story I call her Michelle. I don't know if I ever called her Michelle in my entire life while she was alive. It was "Micki" and then "Punker."
Of course when we were little we were inseparable. She was 2 years and 4 months older than me, and then there were 4 years from Micki to my next sibling, my sister Lori. Everything was "Micki and Kerri, Micki and Kerri." Two peas in pod we were. Until July 2, 1987. She had graduated high school in 1986. She would have been 19 in 2 months and 5 days.
I remember when I turned 19. I was older than she ever was. That was really bizarre, because she was my "older" sister. And now it's been 25 years since I've had her in my life.
Punker was so proud of her car. It was a light blue Camero. She let me drive it once in a blue moon, and that car was FIERCE. But it was not invincible. I saw pictures of it later, and couldn't even believe all that twisted, torn metal had once been ANYTHING, let alone an awesome car.
And then I saw the passenger side. Where her friend had been sitting. There was a perfect almost egg shaped place where the passenger seat was where things were virtually untouched. As if the hand of God had cupped around my sister's best friend and protected her from the violence. She wasn't completely unscathed; she had a badly broken leg and a liver injury...but she would completely recover. Thankfully.
My sister never knew what hit her, so the doctors say. She was unconscious at the scene, and never woke back up. The man who hit her died at the scene, which to me, was God's justice and mercy at the same time. Justice because the man paid the ultimate price, (I don't even know his name, and I'm glad I don't.), and because my sister never knew pain. Justice and mercy at the same time for my family because we didn't have to go through a trial, a pathetic sentence, or worse yet, a slap on the wrist. We cold have sued his "estate" which would have been his family, but to what end? It wasn't their fault. They had lost a child, son, cousin, friend, nephew, brother...why should we hold malice in our hearts for them?
So it's been a long, long time. I've lived the majority of my life without her. But there are many days when I wonder, where would she be now? Married? Children? Would we be best friends? Would she live close? Would her children and my son be inseparable like Micki and I were when we were little? Would she have long or short hair? What would she be doing for a living? Would we talk everyday? Would we....
I'll always wonder. It will always hurt. There will always be that place in my life...in my family's lives, in my son's life.... and yes, I'm going to say don't drink and drive. Who knows what could happen? Maybe this guy that killed my sister had never done it before, and didn't think he was really intoxicated. Maybe there was still alcohol in his blood from partying the night before and he fell asleep... Maybe...
The reason doesn't matter. I see people now texting, talking on their phones, reading newspapers, looking at magazines, picking up dropped items, all while driving. People do NOT understand that actions have consequences. The man that hit my sister died. But what if he had lived? He would have to live with what he had done for the rest of his life.
When you are behind the wheel of a car, you are basically in a 2000 pound potential murder weapon. Drive responsibly. Use your brain. Don't be the cause of a family's heartbreak. Pay attention to what you're doing. Or you may suffer consequences of astronomical proportions. And you will never. be. the. same.