We were that “normal” family. Husband, wife, 2 kids and a dog. Upper middle class, my husband worked in IT and I was a marketing professional. We both worked very hard to provide everything we could for our family. We were super involved parents, my husband coaching our oldest Brittany’s basketball team and I taught her catechism class when she made her 1st Communion. I was the Brownie leader, the carpool mom, the head of the PTO. We encouraged our kids to have friends over for playdates, sleepovers, swimming in the pool. We went on family vacations, day trips and always very active together. Family time was very important to us, especially Family Night. With our busy schedules, in between running one child to dance class, the other to softball, and my husband and I also played softball, it was important to us to have one night where we just focused on us. No TV, no phones…we played board games, went to the park, rode bikes, it didn’t really matter what we did, just that we did it together.
Growing up, my oldest Brittany, was smart as a whip. Honors student, things came so easy to her. She barely had to study, grades were never a problem. She grew up trying everything…dance class, baton, cheer, basketball, softball. She made friends very easily, having this spirited outgoing personality, with a warm, gentle heart for the elderly and those less fortunate. She was involved in the DARE program, worked at our city’s parks and recreation department, she babysat and loved Friday night football games in high school. I remember once when she was 16, she was invited to Prom by a senior. We let her stay out a little longer than her normal curfew…but she ended up calling me early, saying “Hey mom, can you come and pick me up? My ride has been drinking and I don’t feel safe”. WHOA! Well, of course I will!
A year later, when she was 17, we got her a Dakota truck for her birthday. She didn’t get her license at the age of 16 like most…we waited until she was 17 to make sure she was truly ready for the responsibility. She loved that truck so much…. but with the truck, came a lot of independence and freedom.
About 8 months after she got that Dakota, I received a call about 10am from the local hospital. “Mrs. Donovan, your daughter has been in an accident.” What? It didn’t register with me. My brain was not processing what she was saying. I didn’t understand…she’s supposed to be in school right now!
I rushed to the hospital and when I arrived, I found her screaming, thrashing, with 5 people trying to hold her down on the gurney. What is going on with my daughter? I felt such fear, panic, my eyes stinging with tears. The doctor told me she flipped her truck and has a very high amount of Xanax in her system. WHAT! Xanax? My mind whirling with all kinds of thoughts and confusion, as they strapped her down. Little did I know what the next 7 years would bring….