Life’s greatest joy is being able to have share precious moments with family. Growing up, the importance of family had always been instilled in my brain. My immediate family and extended family always made the time to see each other, because there was no way we would be the family that only saw each other on holidays. It did not matter if half of my family lived in Austin and the other half lived in the Rio Grande Valley, distance never was an issue. Living in Central Texas, my parents, brother, and I always managed to make little weekend trips to spend time with my grandparents. I knew that as I grew older, so did my grandma and grandpa. It was hard to imagine my life without them, so I tried my best to see them as much as I could. I always heard people saying, “spend time with your elders now because they won’t always be here”. I could not help but feel sad when I heard this especially when I soon saw that it was possible for anyone of any age.
I was getting ready to head to a study group when my mom came into my room and asked me to sit down. It was those words that changed my life, “Michael was in a car accident earlier this morning… he didn’t make.” As soon as I heard that, I immediately felt in denial. How could my cousin, Michael, not be here. It was hard to comprehend and mostly because I did not want to. Details of his accident were slowly coming together and all I could think about was being with my aunt. We immediately packed up and headed to the Rio Grande Valley.
My cousin had just turned 23, he was full of life and definitely the light of the party. He and a few friends decided to go out to town on a Friday night. It was about two in the morning when two of his friends offered him a ride back home. His friend that was driving had a single cab truck that only fit two. The passenger of the truck offered to share her seat with my cousin by sitting on his lap. On their way home, the driver, who was severely intoxicated hit the cement median strip resulting my cousin and his friend, who he shared his seat with, to be ejected through the windshield.
As I drive down I-35 every day, I always read the digital TxDOT signs reporting traffic, cheesy holiday slogans, and major accidents. On my way back home after my cousin’s funeral, I read one in particular. It said something along the lines of there being 3,721 deaths on Texas roadways in 2018. I was taken back and fully realized that there were 3,720 other families who had experienced the same loss my family did. It was heartbreaking to think that so many families grieve their loved ones who have passed away in motor vehicle accidents and even more heartbreaking to realize that unfortunately the number will continue to rise. I believe it is important to inform others on practicing safe driving specially in our world today. There are many alternatives such as a taxi, uber, or lyft rather than driving under the influence. Anytime I see someone getting ready to get in their car and take off, I yell out a couple words, “Drive safe! Text me when you’re home”. Sometimes it feels as if I cannot help, but the best I can do is show people I care about them.