This is the first of three interview segments that took place in the homes of parents whose children died traumatic deaths. Each excerpt illustrates a theme described in the text.

A mother whose teenage son died in a single vehicle motor vehicle accident talks about how angry she was when the father of the driver ignored her during some chance encounters….


Mother: But you know what really set me off, is that I said, why ______, you have seen me time and again, why haven't you spoken to me, why did you walk by and not speak to me? Because they just live in the next neighborhood and I would see them in the grocery and this, that and the other. And he said, well, because I didn't know who you were. I didn't recognize you. Well, I lost it. And I said, what do you mean that you didn't recognize me? After we have sat in that courtroom hour after hour, day after day, and you see me and you can say that you wouldn't recognize me? And I said I see your face before I go to sleep every night. And I said you take a good look at me. And I said don't you ever forget my face and you remember it Christmas morning, and you remember it when your son walks down the aisle to graduate, and you remember when he walks down the aisle as a bridegroom and you remember it when you hold your first grandchild. I said don't you ever forget my face. And, I think it was again, it was this insensitivity, like he had just blocked me off. And you know, and, I just, I said you are the one I'm most angry with. It's not your son.

RO: This is the father? _______ is the father?

Mother: It's the father. I said you have wanted to manipulate this whole situation and I really think the wife was, you know I know, I mean I felt all along that she was the one with the heart. And you know she and I talked for a long time you know this past fall, and it was like she, she didn't want to handle things the way they were handled, but she was kinda like, you know that's the dominating husband and she just kinda followed his lead. And, I really, my heart breaks for her. I really felt sorry for her and so she had called me and talked following that episode because our kids were graduating from high school and she called and said I can't imagine how difficult this is for you. So, we talked for a long time and then she came by this October. And the father, that day after the court proceedings when we got to talk in the judge's chamber, he came by that day and he said, I am really sorry for what I have done and how I've handled, and if only I could handle it differently. And he said I'll be back. We didn't hear from him. And then I did some work with the legislature last year and against the, (laugh), they were gonna lower the driving age. And so I went up there and I sent out a bunch of letters and I sent him one. And I wrote a little note and I said you've always wanted to know how you can help, this is how you can help. And, so he did end up testifying up there with me. Which, and I didn't, the poor man, he probably, it's like he probably thought oh is she never gonna get off of me? Because I saw him one day and we were standing up at the top of the capitol steps, and you know they're real long, steep steps, and so I said, well you know, _______, I'm gonna testify before that committee tomorrow. And he said, you are? And I said, yes, and I said you know you can be there, too. I said that would make a powerful statement. I said, you know, I said five years ago when this all happened that someday maybe you and I could stand side by side and tell everyone how it wrecks lives on both sides, and so tomorrow maybe will be our chance. And I thought he was gonna fall down the stairs. And he didn't give me an answer. And the next morning right before I went in to testify, he came up and he said I'm gonna be here with you. So that was like, I thought, in that room all these spectators had no idea. If they only knew the drama that had preceded that. Oh golly. And so then finally, and then he said when we got through all that, he said, I'm gonna come by. But he still didn't come by until this past October. And he came by you know on a Thursday night and talked, and then his wife came by and stayed for a real, real long time. And it's like, you know, it just was finally (sigh) after all those years. You know, I realize that they did hurt. They handled it far differently than I would. I think that they realized that they hurt us in how they handled it, but you can't, you have to go on. You just can't stay back in that. You know I'm grateful that they came when they did. They didn't have to ever come. And so I'm grateful that they did