It’s quite a joke in our house when ‘Mum’ cringes in the back seat of the car whenever a learner driver or young P-plater takes the wheel. I’m afraid my nerves do not cope very well with the whole ‘young driver’ situation, and while this can seem funny to those who witness my reactions, I do have my reasons.
When I was sixteen years old, I met a young man by the name of Tim. We’d first met at school, and found ourselves staring over the desks at each other. His dark hair, piercing blue eyes and infectious laugh took my breath away. It wasn’t long before we began dating, and soon we were very much in love. As a hopeless romantic, he often showered me with flowers, soft toys, and jewellery, and we were often seen ‘out on the town’ for dinner dates and spending time with our friends. For nearly two years, we loved, laughed, and had an absolute ball.
Unfortunately, being so young and in love does have its drawbacks, and as time went by, we began to question whether or not we would eventually marry. But question would never fully be answered. I had moved to Adelaide for University, while Tim remained in Port Augusta, working for the railways. One Sunday, I travelled home on the late bus, and we had arranged to meet up the following evening – on the Monday, after he had finished work. It was time to make a decision in regards to our future. Whatever the decision, we knew we loved each other deeply, and would forever more remain good friends at the very least.
At 8:03am, on the morning of August 11, I suddenly awoke from a deep sleep. For those who do not believe in ‘spiritual connections’ with another person, I can tell you, they do exist. I knew something was wrong – the best way I can possibly explain it is to quote Star Wars – ‘like I felt a great disturbance in the force’. No, I don’t believe in ‘the force’, but that was what it was like. I simply knew that something horrible had happened. Instantly, I arose and tried to call Tim. His mother told me he’d left for work, so I waited a few minutes, then phoned the railway station. He had not yet arrived, but they would have him call me when he got in. However, that call would never happen.
Two hours later, his mother rang to let me know the heartbreaking news. As Tim rode to work on his motorbike, a utility had pulled out in front of him. Without more than a second’s warning, they collided, and Tim was sent catapulting out of his seat and through the air. He was dead the moment he hit the road.
On that day, my life would change forever, and I would witness the devastation a family goes through when a young driver is killed in a horrible, senseless accident. I remember his mother, clutching her grandson on the seat in the backyard, rocking back and forth, as she cried, ‘We only had him for such a little while, such a little while’.
Does one ever get over the loss? Nope. And each year as the anniversary rolls around, we remember. We learn to live with it of course, but there is a hole left in our hearts forever. Never again do I wish to experience the death of a young person on the road, or to look into a grieving mother’s eyes as she tries to comprehend her loss. And never again do I wish to experience the terrible pain of losing a loved one in such a horrific way.
So to my teens and other young drivers, if you see me cringe or wince when you are behind the wheel, please bear with me. Such an experience can never be forgotten, and the sense of loss always remains. Please remember, it’s not you I don’t trust, it’s the unpredictable road.