Letter from a mother to a hit-and-run driver
Once, when my husband and I were driving along Highway 14, we spotted a turtle in the middle of the road. We pulled over and Ian gently picked up the turtle and carried him to a pond on a nearby farm. When I hit a low flying robin with my car one day, I drove back to check and see if it was okay and still breathing before driving off. To think an individual would drive a vehicle into my daughter, pinning her against an adjacent car and then leave her severely injured and alone lying on the ground, is incomprehensible to me.
I don't know you and you don't know me, but you have affected the lives of every member of our family enormously. After you fled, my daughter called out for help and was surrounded by caring people who contacted my husband and placed a 911 call for police and ambulance.
Since that night, she has had eight surgeries and has been hospitalized for over a month, and that is just the beginning of our long road to recovery. A few weeks ago, a reporter asked me what I would say to the assailant if I could speak directly with that person. I reflected for a moment and then shook my head blankly and said, "There are no words."
Now, some time has passed and I do have a few things I would like to say to you. You and I actually have more in common than you might think. We both have had major life altering decisions to make. Mine were medical choices that would affect my daughter's life. Your decision was based on whether to run away or offer assistance. Making choices is not easy for anyone, but I like to think weighing the consequences of one's actions plays a role in making those significant decisions. While you are at home sleeping at night, my daughter is woken up repeatedly in the hospital every night for blood work, IVs, pain medications, injections, vitals and nerve block checks. It's hard to get a good night's sleep in a hospital setting; I know because I have been sleeping in her room for over a month now.
You may take walking for granted, but we don't. It will be awhile until my girl can walk again, and never unaided. Has your life been turned upside-down? Our lives have. Things that used to be important to us are not any more, and things were not that important before, are more important now.
Neither my husband nor I have worked since the accident. We don't have time; we're too busy for now learning the ropes.
For many years, I wrote the Positive Parenting column for the newspaper and, although I confidently covered many topics relating to parenting, I never wrote about how to cope after a hit-and-run incident. This is all new territory for me. It feels like I have been dropped into a foreign country where I don't speak the language, I am not familiar with the culture, I have never eaten the food and I don't know the geography or road maps. I am kind of lost in this new territory, but experiential learning is teaching me to cope and I am slowly inching forward.
My daughter has risen far above this event. This incident does not define her. She is positive and beautiful. She is motivated and I am confident that she will do great things with her life. We are grateful that she is alive and thriving.
We have learned that, even though there was one person who committed an unspeakable act of cowardice, there are a thousand people who have proven to us that humankind is good. Anne Frank wrote in The Diary of a Young Girl, "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." Although you chose to flee and hide, our friends and community have stood by us and supported us with compassion, love, kindness, music, art, wholesome meals, funds, yarn, caring and generosity of spirit.
Most people prefer that justice be done. My daughter has become every mother's daughter and that is why everyone genuinely cares so much.
My only prayer was wishing that it could be me instead of her lying in that hospital bed. I have shed many tears. So many tears that sometimes it feels like there are none left to weep.
Even though it was my daughter who was hit that night, I, too, have felt broken and shattered. But there has been laughter and peace too. We have learned how to embrace what we have and each other, and appreciate the world around us.
Tell me, do you ever think about that night? Does it affect your dreams? Do you wonder about the girl you hit and how she might be doing? Or is it easy for you to carry on and buy groceries and watch TV and go for coffee like everything is normal?
As a teacher, I always taught my preschoolers that there are consequences to actions. I taught them to take responsibility for their behaviour. I would urge you to take responsibility for your actions that night. Don't be afraid. Come forward. Somebody knows. Do the right thing and tell someone. Call the New Minas detachment of the RCMP and help them wrap up their investigation, 679-5555, or contact Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers, 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), for a cash reward.
I know I'm supposed to feel better if I forgive you, but the truth is, sometimes I still feel angry that you caused so much pain. For now, I will go back and be there for my daughter and family, and I trust that the world is a kind and nurturing place. My daughter has taught me to find peace and with her courage and the support of friends and community. I am gradually learning to do so.
Knowing who you are would provide some closure for us. And you know what? I urge you to do this for yourself as well. After all, if we can look out for a turtle or a robin, it's not too late for you step up to the plate for one innocent girl.