Yesterday Cliff and I received some insane news that has completely overtaken and boggled our minds. A former co-worker of his from our Milwaukee days had called him. In the course of their conversation, Cliff asked how this man's wife was. This was a couple who we were "couple" friends with while we lived there; we had them over for dinner, we went out to dinner with them, when we were at work events we hung out with them. Not close friends, but friendly. They were married shortly before we moved back to Green Bay. In the meanwhile they had built a home, and last we heard they were thinking about trying to start a family.
The question brought the conversation to a grinding halt.
"You mean you don't know?" the man asked, assuming that surely the Mister heard through the grapevine.
"Huh?" was the Mister's response.
"Uh. . .she's in jail. For a year. She was in a car accident which killed a motorcyclist."
WOW. What do you say when you find out news like that?
Last July, his wife was partying at a summer festival in her hometown on a Saturday evening. She ended up too heavily intoxicated to drive their home (about a 30 minute drive), so she stayed with a friend. The next morning she got up to drive home, and reported that she fell asleep at the wheel, then crossed the center line and hit a motorcyclist head on.
She blew 1.5 times the legal limit. At 8 am in the morning.
The man she killed was 40, a church-going man who was the president of his local BMW motorcycle chapter. Had a 15 year old son, a good career, and was well-liked and respected in his community.
In the end, she pleaded no contest and received 1 year in jail, ordered to pay 2 years of the son's college tuition, a lengthy probation with numerous details. She is now serving her year.
Cliff and I were left dazed by the news. How in just one instant, your entire life and those of your family's can change.
Our minds were reeling last night, thinking of it all. How his friend must have felt when getting the phone call from the police that Sunday morning. The mix of anger, fear, sadness. The mourning for that poor son left fatherless, and the mourning for the incredibly horrid decision made by your wife that changes everything forever.
There have been several moments in my life when things have changed---not for the better-- in an instant. Events, actions and decisions, both of my own accord and by others, that for hours left me horrified and paralyzed in grief. Events were I literally became sick to my stomach wishing to go back in time so a different course could be taken.
A feeling that I know must be gripping these 2 people, who probably feel like they are living a nightmare that they are still waiting to awaken from.
But life doesn't work that way.
My only hope is that somehow, some good can from this. It's unnerving to see this type of thing happen to people you know. Unnerving to see just how quickly and monumentally things can change with one severe lapse of judgment. Absolutely mind blowing.