I have not been so affected by a pre-prom event as I was today. I may have been in a more emotional state with other stuff that is going on, but it really hit me today.
A pre-prom event (at least most of them around here) consists of a crash enactment with bashed cars and teens with make-up and mikes or a recorded dialog played for a large group of students on the football field, followed by a couple of speakers (very often including the Coroner). The point is to convince teens not to drink or use other drugs, not to drink (or use drugs) and drive, and not to ride with someone who is intoxicated, with at least the nominal focus on the upcoming prom night.
Today’s event followed that formula. The weather was great. The audience quiet and seemed to pay attention. Differences started fairly early. Through the course of the event about 5 of the seated students passed-out and had to be taken out (I think 2 to the hospital). So it was apparent at that point that there was a fair amount of emotional energy in the “air”. I spoke after the physical part of the presentation and I think I did fairly well (there were positive comments later). I spoke about possible deaths and injuries, loss of potential, the “forever” need to say you’re sorry if you are responsible in any way, and that I don’t want them dead in my office and to have to inform their folks.
What really got me however was the mother who spoke after me of her 2 teens involved in a drunk driving accident. One of her son’s died as a result, her other critically injured. She talked of the ICU and the test that showed “brain death” before his heart stopped. She talked about how they unwrapped his Christmas gift (the crash happened just before and his death just after Christmas), a leather jacket, and had him buried in it. She showed the shirts that were cut off his body when he received emergency care to no avail.
I cried as she talked and hugged that mother when she finished. When will I have to cry and hug another mother?