Eleven Years + Three More

We knew at some point there would more likely than not be a plea bargain from the driver who hit our brother and his best friend. And we knew once it happened things would move quickly. But since there is no warning, it took us very much by surprise when we found out a plea was being reached this month. Today, the driver has pled guilty to one count of leaving the scene of a crash involving a death and agreed to 132 months in prison followed by 36 months of probation.


Even from the time the driver was arrested, although I was thankful he was found, it never alleviated or lessened my pain. People would say thing like “You must be so relieved/happy to know he’s been caught.” And honestly, I’ve never felt those emotions. Likewise, I don’t feel any relief or happiness or justice in his sentencing term. Could it be worse? Absolutely. There are horror stories of drivers who get just a few months or who are never found after leaving a scene. So I’m not discounting the additional pain those families must have, because I cannot imagine that extra burden. But having the driver in jail “paying for” his crime does not lessen the pain I do have.

The lives of my brother and his best friend were taken away. The life of the driver has been changed forever. Countless other lives were affected in one moment. I don’t have any idea how to measure what length of jail time would be considered “justice” for the mistake that was made. No amount of time can bring them back, or reverse the damage done to our family. And at the same time, no amount of time can erase the guilt I imagine the driver feels or change the course his life is now taking. All around, the situation cannot be repaired by any specific length of sentence.

So no, my grief is in no way lessened by the news of the driver’s plea. My heart does not feel lighter. I actually feel heavier knowing his decisions continue to tragically alter lives. Because of his own choices, his life will never, ever be the same. However, I do not believe his choices were done out of malice. Because of what he did, his family and friends are suffering too. Their pain is real and raw, especially today; I have empathy for all of them and what they are enduring. But because our grief is enough for me to shoulder, I prefer to keep them faceless and nameless. It may be selfish, but I don’t want to know anything about him. It is better for me to paint my own small picture of who he is and try to let the rest of it go.

And I have to let it go because I need energy to focus on our love for Rob and how we can channel that love into great things. He had beautiful dreams and hopes that we’d like to carry out, if only in a small way. But since this day is a particularly heavy one, I’ll give myself extra room to be in pain and grieve for our families. For the driver’s family. For the hundreds, if not thousands of people whose lives were changed that day.

***Please note that, as with everything on this blog, these thoughts and opinions are mine alone. I do not speak for my whole family; I can only speak for myself.

Posted in It's My life | 2 Comments

Despair…and Hope

Yesterday was my first time in a hospital since September. I think of my brother every day, all day. But occasionally I am struck heavily by emotion of a certain memory or thought that I may not have expected. It didn’t occur to me that this would be my first visit in a hospital until I was there. And even when I did realize it, for a few moments I was okay. But as I walked into the hospital to see my best friends’ new baby, I met the faces of other visitors and distinctly remembered looking into the faces of other visitors for the three days we spent at Rob’s bedside. As we journeyed the halls of that hospital, I often wondered if the patients, nurses and guests could see the grief on our faces. The pain had such a physical presence within my own body that it seemed impossible for someone to see me but not see the despair and know exactly what was happening to our world. 

Some of that despair returned to me while walking through the lobby yesterday. The wash of tears, an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. As the elevator carried me to the maternity floor, I tried to compose myself. Tried to stop myself from having a complete meltdown because this time, I was in a hospital to celebrate new life just brought into the world. Not to say goodbye to life passing much too soon.

Thankfully, the joy of holding a new baby allowed my grief to pause for an hour. I snuggled, cooed and laughed. I listened to the birth story and saw the love pouring from my friends who had been made parents for the first time. These friends had prayed for years to have this reality and here, she had finally arrived; her new life a complete blessing as she forever changed their world. Their struggle was finally over and the proof was physically in their arms. She brought with her the promise of dreams fulfilled and hope restored. My heartache, while never gone, was soothed for the moment to seeing their long heartache removed.

As I drove away from the hospital, I was struck – and I’m certain this is by no means original – but still, I was struck by how one building could house so much despair and yet so much hope. In one physical location, some families are forced to say goodbye to a long loved one while others can joyously say hello to a brand new addition. On the one hand, it seems to be a cruel joke to keep such odds together. And yet on the other, maybe it can be good to have them together; a yin and yang balance. Because if we did not know the heartbreak and despair of life lost, I’m not certain we could fully appreciate the hope and beauty of life just beginning.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Host & Hostess Gift Guide 2013

I’ve taken a break from blogging over the past few months – our family needs have come as a first priority – but I did want to pop in with a holiday post. Last year I posted a host & hostess gift guide and wanted to do another this year, so here it goes…

Even with my good intentions, I must admit that we continue to basically be wine givers when it comes to host & hostess gifts. Although…we did manage to bring a bottle of bourbon for a couple who loves a good drink on the rocks. So, maybe that’s progress! I think most party hosts would love to receive any of these gifts and I’m still going to make a good effort to branch out from the wine cellar when attending events at other people’s homes this year!

Hostess Gift Guide 2013

1. Tray from Target - I absolutely love the graphic nature of this tray and think it could work nearly anywhere in your house – the office, a guest room, a tiny bar in the living room.

2. Decanter Tags from Anthropologie - the bar cart trend shows no signs of stopping but when your liquors are stored in beautiful decanters it can be difficult to remember which is the rum and which is the vodka. Mr. Lemon and I purchased these for our own bar and we’re in love. Although I would have liked to stumble across a vintage set, you really can’t beat these for the price.

3. Fujifilm Instax Camera – a little on the pricier side of host gifts, these cameras are just too much fun and would be perfect for a family gathering or NYE party.

4. Set of Cards from Leif Designs – Leif Designs is local in my hometown of Grand Rapids and I can’t get enough of her beautiful calligraphy. And I love trying to get people to write letters again!

5. DIY Mini Copper Planters – Poppytalk show a lovely and fairly easy DIY that I think would be a great gift!

I’m off to finish my Christmas shopping. And decorating. And wrapping. Less than two weeks left? Oh boy.

I received no compensation for these endorsements – they are simply products I like. No affiliate links are included.


Posted in Entertaining Basics | Tagged , | Leave a comment