Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A "Death" In The Family

I sitting here waiting for a police officer and a law-enforcement chaplain to come to my door and tell my youngest daughter has died in a car crash.

I'm nervous, edgy, and a little worried about how I'll react. Will I cry? Will I feel anything? Will it seem real?

Oh, my daughter's not actually dead. She's just fine. She taking part at her high school in a program put on by the California Highway Patrol and the local police called "Every 15 Minutes". It's an anti-drinking & driving program, based on the fact that, back in the early 90's when the program was started, there was a US highway fatality caused by drunk driving occurred every 15 minutes. Hence the name of the program.

Camie was picked, along with a coupla dozen other students, to be one of the students today who are pulled out of class and declared "dead". They are taken by staff and some police officer chaperones, to a hotel for the evening, and held completely incommunicado - no phones, no pagers, no visits, nothing. They just have each other to talk to and share their thoughts and feeling with about being "dead".

How is you family feeling? How are you feeling? What impact has your "dying" had on family and friends?

And, as a part of that, I, as a parent, participate by going through the mock "death notification" just as if my daughter actually died in a crash. The chaplain and the police officer will come in and do their thing, just as if it were an actual event.

My lord, I'm getting a bit misty just typing this. I'm gonna fall apart when they actually get here.

A little later I'll go over to the high school and see the mock drunk driving accident they'll have set up on the football field. They'll have actual police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and even, if weather permits (which it looks like it won't) a life-flight helicopter to transport one of the "victims" to the hospital, where they will go through the entire process of being a trauma patient in a major trauma ward. At least one "victim" will be transported by ambulance, and one, who will "die" at the scene, will go with the coroner to the morgue.

All this will be video-taped and edited tonight into a presentation for the school at an assembly tomorrow.

The real beauty and gravity of this is that most of the student body knows nothing about this. It's going to be a complete surprise.

Well, I think they are here now. I'll write more later, or tomorrow, and let ya know how it goes.


sage said...

Wow, this is an interesting program (just read your above letter and kept on through this post).

That would be a hard letter to write... I know. Almost a dozen years ago, we had a one year old girl in a foster/adoption setting. We hoped to adopt, but right before the six months were up, the grandmother changed her mind and decided she wanted custody and the state gave it to her. Saying goodbye (we had a week) was tough, even though we always knew it was a possibility. I'd watched her grow and begin to talk and explore the world. She was so full of life... I still get teary thinking about it and wrote one such letter that never went anywhere.

Ed Abbey said...

Powerful stuff Mike. Powerful stuff. For most of my life, I guess I have been kind of selfish since all I had to worry about is me. Then I got married and added a person to the list, but she is an adult and can take care of herself. But soon, I will be adding a child, someone who depends on me completely for their survival. Doesn't really have anything to do with your post but it is what came to mind after reading it. Powerful stuff Mike.