Today was judgement day. We gave our Victim Impact Statements and left everything in the hands of the judge. I’m still reeling and processing, but this is what I said:
I have the impossible task of trying to put into words how this careless accident has effected my life. The outline has listed four main areas to expand on, the first one being the hardest:
This is the one that has made me stop every time I try to start this statement. How can I tie down all these emotions to words?
My husband and I were only a few weeks short of our twelfth wedding anniversary the day of the accident, but we had known each other for almost twenty years. He was a rock in my life, and that of our children. He was the kind of man who was present and engaged with his family. His relationships were authentic and important, with me, with his children, with everyone. We had plans for the future, for our family and for us. We talked often of summers with the kids and doting on the inevitable grandchildren. All these plans were a joint thing, all the decisions that were made we made together. He was my sounding board and honest counsel. Now I have moments and days where I am so overwhelmed with the thought of living all this alone. Not to mention grieving the loss of my baby girl in the midst of it, yet not really having the freedom to truly process her loss because of the fear of not being able to come back from that place of grief. And now being a single mom to 5 & 7 year old boys I don’t have that luxury. And for anyone who hasn’t watched their own flesh and blood die, it is even more tragic then you can imagine. As a mother there is no greater pain. Though a close second would be watching your living children suffer through their own losses.
The layers of the emotional impact of this accident are deep and too numerous to count. I imagine it will be years before any of us can even fathom how profound they are.
My boys and I obviously had a few scrapes and bruises from the crash; the younger of my sons broke his arm. Thankfully due to much treatment and his age he has healed up nicely, even though his injury would have put most of us into immediate surgery.
The left side of my body, has never properly healed. My shoulder and hip joints will not stay in their sockets and have to function in a painful and constant state of partial dislocation. I’m currently still doing Physiotherapy, chiropractic, and massage to manage the pain and more tests to hopefully determine the problem. The accident also caused the growth of a mole on my back which developed into pre-cancer immediately after the crash. Within a week it had tripled in size. The affected areas were all removed thankfully, though minor complications have left a sizeable scar. I also had to have a portion of my tongue removed as at impact I bit through it. I still require some dental work to repair damage to my teeth. About half of my hair has fallen out, which we can only assume is a stress response.
Some of these issues may have been negated had there been time for more thorough care that day, but as the boys and I were ambulanced to Red Deer Regional Hospital, my daughter was airlifted to the Children’s Hospital in Calgary. Shortly after my arrival in Red Deer I received word that Madeline was not going to make it and was encouraged to get to her immediately so I could say my final goodbye.
After the car accident my children have both struggled with anxiety and regressive behaviours. Unlike most kids losing a close loved one is a proven reality for them, and my eldest has suffered with nightmares of the accident as he remembers every detail from that day.
Money has never been important to me. With my family I could have been content anywhere, though losing Colin has had an obvious impact on that security. Due to his gender, his size and the double degree he graduated with, in education and kinesiology, his earning power was much greater than mine. Teaching and coaching for 12 years gave him great job stability, and the fact that he was superior at it made new opportunities vast as well.
My husband also had a very comprehensive benefit package through his work. Due to my medical conditions we were fortunate that the thousands of dollars needed every year to keep me alive were all covered under his plan. At the time of the one year anniversary of his death we no longer have access to any of those medical benefits for myself or my children with his plan.
Fears For Security
I have no fears for my family’s security with regards to the accused driver in this case. Though I do struggle with fear when I am driving. When I come to an intersection, or drive on a secondary hi way, I have lost confidence in others ability to obey the rules of the road. When I say goodbye to family or friends when they have to make a long drive home I experience anxiety.
Sometimes I’m afraid at night when I hear a noise outside and I know that my boys only have me to protect them. I’m scared when I have to make decisions for our future and how to best parent boys to become young men. When I try to look past the moment in front of me, uncertainty plagues my thoughts.
My biggest fear for security is my boys becoming orphans, or losing another child.
If the merits of this case and sentencing were based on the measure of a man there would be no hope. There is nothing that could match the value of Colin and Madeline’s lives. Nothing could be given or done to equate that loss. If we had time we could listen to hundreds of testimonies from people who lives were drastically impacted by the love and investment of Colin and even Madeline. And many lives that had even hoped for that chance. But in this courtroom all lives are considered equal, and rightly so.
I want you, the accused, to know that I hold you solely responsible for the loss of Colin and Madeline’s lives, and I am disappointed that you caved to a system which encouraged you to hold off on taking responsibility until you felt it was the most beneficial to you. I also want you to know that I forgive you, and I don’t say that lightly. I imagine the gravity of your thoughtless actions last summer will haunt you forever, but know that there is no hatred here. I’m not hoping to see your life destroyed, there has been enough of that already; and no matter what decisions are made here today it will have no hold on me.
I’ve said my piece and left everything on the table.
For me this chapter is closed.