The holiday season is upon us. For some, the time of year is bittersweet.
I know a woman for whom this is true. Her 5-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver two days before Christmas.
It was some 15 years ago in Eugene, Ore. My friend, Star, and her son, a beautiful, gifted child named Crystal, were visiting me just before Christmas. They had ridden to my house on Star's bicycle to bring gifts. Crystal wore a helmet and rode in a specially-built addition on the back of the bike.
They warmed up quickly with hot cocoa and cookies and the Christmas cheer of our little house.
Crystal was thrilled with the twinkling lights outside our house. He didn't want to go out into the cold night air, but his mother had other packages to deliver and it was getting late.
The following day, I was at the post office and met a friend who told me that Star and Crystal had been in an accident. Crystal had died immediately. He had been asleep on the back of the bike and died on impact.
Friends and family rushed to Star's side and stayed with her, taking turns sitting by her bed in the hospital, while she remained in a coma for four months with a severe head injury. Even today, she has short-term memory loss. Her recovery was slow and painful for her and her friends and family.
The man who killed her son was sentenced to six months in jail. He wasn't a bad man, but he made some bad choices. He had spent the day before Christmas eve going from house to house and party to party visiting friends and drinking.
Toward evening, he got into his car and, despite the concerns of friends and family, drove along the same road that Star had taken after leaving my house. He simply swerved off the road, striking Star and Crystal on their bicycle.
My friend will never again look at the holiday season with the sense of joy that she once had.
And the child who was taken from her never got to see another Christmas.
I have a simple request of all our readers. It's a message from a child long ago who loved brightly wrapped gifts, homemade fudge and Christmas lights.
Please don't drink and drive at Christmas -- or any other time of year.
-- Carolyn Wall, Reporter