By Sydney Roberts
I had a best friend. His name was George Gervase. We were inseparable. He understood me in ways no one else ever had. When we were together, nothing mattered. We shared a sense of untouchable invincibility. We’d go on long drives and listen to music together late at night. We used to go to this spot on the Elkhorn River. Tucked away in the forest, we’d sit and talk for hours upon hours about life and its meaning. As more time went by George and I continued to grow closer and closer together. We spent long nights making bad decisions and being the reckless teenagers our parents hoped that we wouldn’t be. Eventually, my parents realized I had gone down the wrong path and decided I needed to stay home for awhile. The following weekend, George died. He was drunk driving.
One night, similar to many nights we’d partaken in, bad choices were made. One of those being to drive home. George drove off the road, he hit a fence, a telephone pole, and a tree before finding his final resting place in a ditch on the side of the road.
I’ll never forget the look on his mother’s face at his funeral–the acceptance that her baby was never coming home. His sisters’ eyes were filled with tears. His friends were huddled in a circle, their tears forming a small puddle on the ground. We were in denial. There’s no way we could have lost him. He was just here, but nevertheless was gone.
I can’t even begin to express the effect George’s death has had on my life. I changed schools, I changed my lifestyle, I changed the way I view the world. People told me not to blame myself, but the guilt pretty much consumed me. It consumed everyone. Those first few weeks felt like a movie. The world kept turning, yet everyone felt still. Walking through the halls at school, I’d see the spot where we ate lunch together and the water fountain where we’d meet everyday at precisely 10:45 during third period. I was so overcome with guilt and sadness that I holed up in my room. I distanced myself from my family and my friends. I didn’t want to live in a world where kids are taken from their mothers without reason, but as times passed I’ve realized there was a reason. George’s actions had consequences. Yours will too.
This is just one story and sadly there are hundreds more. We’ve lost a lot of kids these past few years at the hands of drunk driving. According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, there were 63 alcohol-related fatal crashes in 2017. Let’s make it stop. How many kids have to suffer before we wake up? We aren’t invincible, people! Things need to change. We need to do better. George was lucky he didn’t kill anyone else. Don’t do this to your friends and your family. Every time you get behind the wheel intoxicated you are accepting the fact that you may not only kill yourself, but also the family who happens to be in front of you. We need to do better. Reach out to your friends for a ride, call an Uber, find a way. There is always a way to avoid drunk driving. Don’t become a statistic.