No One Ever Expects It

She kept her son’s room exactly as it was. She kept it this way to keep his innocence and preserve his memory because there was nothing else left.
Nothing was ever moved or changed. His baseball hats were hung on the same hooks on the back of the door. Posters still on the wall. Clothes still in his drawers, jacket still hung on the post of his bed, and his baseball magazine was placed exactly as it was and unmoved on the nightstand.
This was his boyhood room with boyhood memories. This was her son. He was the lost one that went to something which no one saw coming.

We didn’t raise our children this way, she said.
He was a good boy, she told everyone.
He had straight A’s in school. He played sports.
He won awards and had trophies on the shelf above his bed

Football, basketball, baseball, soccer, you name it and my son played it, is what she told everyone.
This wasn’t supposed to happen . . .
I keep his room this way because this is exactly the way he left it, she tells people.

The bed is made with the blanket and comforter folded over. His pillows are lined up just right. The pictures on the wall are from good times, prom dates and graduation photos, camping pictures, and pictures with his friends from baseball and football games back in high school.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.
This was supposed to be the summer of his life.
“I’ll see you later Mom,” was the last thing he said to her.

She kept his room exactly as it was.
She kept it this way to keep his innocence.
He was a good boy.
He was supposed to come home but he never did.

She said she felt him one day.
She was cleaning his room and saw a pair of his sneakers.
She remarked about the way the shoelaces wove through the holes and how the laces were loosely hanging to the side, as if the sneakers we awaiting to be worn again.

I saw them, she said.
I felt him, she told people.
He was with me. I know he was.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, says the Mom.
It was just supposed to be a weekend, out with friends.
The Mom told everyone, “My son never took drugs.”
“Neither did his friends.”

With all the focus on drugs, people seem to forget that more people die in alcohol related deaths than opiate related deaths.
Even if someone is not the one drinking, people still die.

No one ever expects an accident to happen. Certainly, no one ever thinks this will happen to them. And no parent believes this will happen in their home or to one of their children.

Everyone thinks it’s okay.
“I got this.”
Everyone thinks they’re okay to drive, right?
Ask the above Mom whose son will never come home.
When we talk about drinking, ask the Mom about her son and his friends and a weekend before her son was supposed to go to college.
Ask her what it feels like to come into an empty room, which she refuses to change because her son never came home after a weekend that was never supposed to happen.

She hasn’t changed anything in the room since the last time her son was home. She keeps it this way.

Ask the Mom where the awareness is on alcohol related deaths. Ask her if she knew that more than 28 people die each day as a result of alcohol impaired driving. Sure, he was a good kid but good kids die too.

We need to rethink this. We need to realize that focusing on one epidemic as more important than another is not helping our children.

I heard a parent tell me, “Boys will be boys,” when speaking about kids looking to experiment and have some fun.
I do not argue this.
Actually, I get it.
But an honest and open dialogue might change the mind of someone about to get in their friend’s Jeep to go to another party.
I get it.
Opiates are killing people.
Guess what, so does alcohol!

And do you know what?
I think the above Mom just might agree with me . . .

Someone told me, my kids would never do drugs.
They said, my kids would never do anything like this.
They would never get into a car when someone was drinking.
And maybe they wouldn’t.
But hey, shit happens.

I’ve been to more candlelight vigils than I can count and the one thing I’ve learned is that sadly, good kids die too.

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