Wednesday, April 05, 2006
The fire department was first on scene, and began working on the victims. Soon the police showed up, and the CHP helicopter came on scene and actually transported one of the victims to the hospital.
The drunk driver was arrested and actually taken to jail to be booked.
The dead passenger was actually zipped into a body-bag and transported to the morgue.
Pretty powerful stuff.
When the chaplain and the police came, I was cool, until they showed me Camie's obituary. I lost it. Actually started crying, even though I knew it an excersize. Felt freaking real.
Then, part of MY job as a parent is to sort out my feelings, and try to imagine how I WOULD feel if Camie had died, and write a last letter to her. Her obituary said she had died at the wheel of a car, killing three others with her, as a result of being high on weed. To my mind that's so unlike her, the but point of the excersize is, you just never know.
Here's my letter. This will go to Camie tomorrow at a luncheon. She's incommunicado, so there's no chance she'll read it till then.
"Dear god, Camie…. How can you be gone?
You left for school this morning so happy. Freshly showered, your hair still wet, pulled back in ponytails, still smelling like fresh soap and shampoo when I hugged you goodbye. I told you have a good day, you said, “I will. Bye, poppy”.
I cleaned up, showered, got ready for my day. Then came a knock at the door. Strangers were standing outside. The rest is a blur.
And now I find my trust was misplaced! You smoked dope and got behind the wheel of a car! Camie, dammit, how could you?
We’ll never go camping again, or drive to
I will remember wonderful things, Camie. I’ll remember laughing with you at stupid jokes. I’ll remember having serious talks with you about boys and feelings and life. I’ll remember going to movies, picking you and your friends up at the mall, having a house full of giggling kids all there because of you. I’ll remember being baptized with you.
I’ll remember the absolute and complete joy at watching you grow from an awkward child into a beautiful young woman that I loved and respected.
Camie, how can you be gone?
I have a hollow, empty place in life, now. I’ll have it forever. My baby daughter is dead. That makes no sense. Even seeing and hearing the words, they still make no sense to me. It shouldn’t be possible. When we’re young we live forever, right? Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
Camie, you were supposed to come home tonight, after school. But instead, I’m lost and adrift because something so valuable was so meaninglessly torn away from me. I suppose if your death had meaning, like if you died trying to help someone, or even if you had a simple accident which wasn’t your fault, I could cope better.
But you chose to smoke! You chose to be wreckless, and that’s just not like you! You chose to be dangerous, and you killed yourself and three others. Now, not only me, but three other families are going through what I’m going through. It’s just so senseless, Camie. So senseless.
Camie, I love you, and will always love you. I know the real you, and it wasn’t the real you that did this. That was someone else. The Camie I know, I will miss forever and ever.
Camie, how can you be gone?
All my love, Dad
(Mike Jones, for Camie Jones)"
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.