This photograph shows a mum with her beautiful children ~ Matthew 12, Lucy 10 and their little brother Peter 2. My world, my joy, my life.
The photograph was taken from a film that was found in Matthew’s camera after he died. I don’t remember it being taken, but I have calculated it to be about 2 weeks before Matthew and Lucy were killed by a drunk driver in a road traffic accident.
They went to a football match with their dad one Summer evening in July 1996, and never came home. The drunk driver hit the car they were in head-on. Matthew died instantly, and Lucy 3 hours later in surgery. Their friend Ben, died 6 days later in hospital. Their father was horribly injured but survived the accident... well, physically anyway, as memories never die. The drunk driver was pronounced dead at the scene. My mum always said that he got away lightly.
In the few seconds that it took to veer off his side of the road, that drunk driver smashed our world into tiny pieces.
Little brother Peter’s grief and confusion regarding his siblings ‘disappearance’ was immense. You can only tell a 2 year old the very basics, but the fact that he stopped talking for weeks, and carried around for months a little car that Matthew had given him that day, often watching and waiting at the window, told of his pain.
The next time I saw my dear, beautiful children was in 2 coffins side by side in the Chapel of Rest. The shock took away my ability to stand. How we managed to get through the funeral I will never know, but the many friends, family and school children that attended helped to give us strength.
The inquest 5 months later told of a wealthy, upstanding Plymouth businessman, who was generous towards charities with his time and money, but who had a longstanding penchant for drinking and driving, ignoring all warnings regarding the danger he was causing. He was 3.5 times over the drink driving limit when he got in his car. If only someone had taken his keys away that night….
Life became very quiet, all the energy was sucked out of the house where once my children had laughed and lived. I held tight to my sanity only for my little boy, and we grieved together, and in our own way. It took Peter years to put together the pieces of the puzzle ~ as his intellect grew, so did his curiosity for the facts. He was 15 when he read all the newspaper articles about the accident and finally found his peace.
It is a mistake to think that you can never be happy again ~ you can but in a different way, in a different world. I gave birth to baby Eliza 14 months after we lost Matthew and Lucy, and she brought joy and hope into our bleak world again.
I laugh and cry, and experience life and have watched my children grow into wonderful, confident adults, and I glow with pride and wonder at how blessed I am.
But Matthew and Lucy remain in our lives, in our thoughts and our hearts. Always loved, never forgotten.
Today would have been Lucy’s 34th birthday, and she will be remembered with such pride. Through the tears that will inevitably flow, I will smile at her memories and tell her how much she is loved. It is all I can do.
Please do not put another family through this grief. Please do not be the cause of a lifetime of sorrow.
It happened to us. It happened to my beautiful children. It can happen to anyone.
Designate a driver, take a taxi, walk to the party.