It has been nearly 25 years since my son Brian was killed by a drunk driver.  He was 19 years old. We miss him terribly.  Life has never been the same without him.

When I use the word “same,” it conjures memories of my children playing in the back yard, watching Sesame Street, doing homework, off to school and church and celebrating their accomplishments, both big and small.  It was a time where innocence and everyday challenges intermingled with hope. We had our dreams and plans for a bright and happy future. Brian’s tragedy was a significant life-changing event for my family.  It would take years to reach a place I now call peaceful acceptance.

On that fateful night in December 1985, Brian passed away due to massive head injuries caused by an automobile accident.  The initial shock and disbelief was soon replaced by a cloak of grief and bereavement of enormous emotional, spiritual and physiological proportions.

After the funeral services, relatives and friends began to gather at our home.  I just wanted to hide from everyone and mourn my son’s loss privately and solemnly.  This was the most trying afternoon I ever experienced in my entire life.  I didn’t know where to turn, to run, what to do, or say. Intellectually, I knew I was surrounded by people who cared, but I recognized that their lives would go on normally after they left, and ours would not.  This dose of reality brought me to my knees.

One of the guests came to me and asked when I would be going back to work.  Did I have any interesting writing assignments I was working on?  Without answering her and with disbelief that anyone could talk about these things at such a time, I turned to one of my sisters and began sobbing and asked her how I would ever deal with Brian’s loss and the heartache it brought to my family.

My nephew Ron stepped forward to comfort me.  He whispered in my ear, “You’re going to need to take care of yourself.  You need to try and rest. Reach out to others when you are ready.  Your surviving children need you more than ever.”

I looked into my nephew’s eyes and saw his love, caring and concern.  I knew I needed to remember his words during the mournful days and nights that lay ahead.

Ron’s words gave me comfort and the advice I needed in the most difficult circumstances. I am forever grateful for his words of wisdom.

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Yvonne Lancaster

Born in Worcester, MA, Yvonne is a former newspaper columnist and is the recipient of numerous writing awards from United Press International, Massachusetts Press Association and New England Press Association for her column From the Heart. Currently, she writes short stories, poetry and is a still life painter. She is co-author of Every Step of the Way: How Four Mother’s Coped with Child Loss (2006) and From the Heart, Sketches from Life (1985). She was named Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women of America. She is currently working on her first novel. Her website is

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