SECOND CHANCES CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
I would ask all parents to have their teenage children read this post. This past Monday, my wife and I gave three talks in Shaker Heights, Cleveland to approximately 1000 people including 9-12th grade students at both US and Hathaway Brown High Schools as well as an evening presentation to a large group of their parents. The topic was Teenage Drinking. At the end of our first presentation which was at US school, a senior student stood up and asked this one question, “If you don’t want us to drink alcohol then when are we allowed to make our own mistakes?” The question was very blunt but legitimate. My answer was this: “I don’t pretend to think that you as a teenager will never drink alcohol. But I do expect you to think about the consequences that can result from it.”
Remember, every situation that you put yourself in leading to a mistake has a direct consequence attached to it. Obviously, everyone makes mistakes in life. Yet with every situation, you need to consider the possible consequences of your action and determine if it is worth it. For my oldest son Brian, he was drinking with friends at a party one Friday night, became intoxicated, drove drunk and struck a tree at high speed one mile from our home. His consequence was dying alone in a car at age 18. In his right mind, Brian was against drunk driving. In his intoxicated state, he drove drunk. When you drink alcohol, you will do things that you normally would not do.
As a neurosurgeon, I have seen numerous teenagers who have been injured or died as a result of alcohol. Imagine being paralyzed from the neck down unable to breath or talk on your own. You are awake, sitting up and strapped to a wheel chair, as a breathing machine keeps you alive. Every aspect of your life that you once knew gone. You are now completely dependent on others to feed you, bath you and care for you every hour of every day. Or worse, you injure or kill someone else as a result of drinking alcohol and driving drunk. When you awake in the morning, you find yourself arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs. You are then convicted by a jury and sentenced to 20 or more years in jail for vehicular manslaughter. You took the life of an innocent person and you may not even remember what happened. As you sit in your jail cell alone and unable to see your family and friends, you ask yourself, “why did I drink last night.” And You Only Wish That You Had a Second Chance To Do It All Over.
These are consequences that most teens do not consider as they take their first sip of alcohol for the evening. A simple lapse of judgement for a split second can change everything.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes in life. It’s called being human. But there will always be a consequence to follow. I ask you to not put yourself in situations that can drastically alter you and your family’s life without warning. This would especially include drinking alcohol and becoming drunk. If you could stand at the bedside and witness a family saying there final goodbyes to their teenage daughter or son. A child lying there brain dead after being involved in an alcohol-related accident. To think that this loved one was fine yesterday and now today is awaiting the process of organ donation. No hope of returning to the life they once had. Only painful memories left for the family who remain.
As I concluded my answer to this young man, I asked him to consider again what happened to my son Brian. A young man who just turned 18 and was looking forward to his bright future in so many ways. He carried a 4.5 GPA throughout high school and scored a 32 on his ACT. He was three months away from graduating high school and starting a new life. He was accepted to his college of choice with the intent of becoming an Orthodontist. He Is Dead Now. Never to come back home and never to fulfill his dreams. We as a family stood over his lifeless body in the emergency department in the early morning hours of February 2, 2013 wondering how this nightmare could be happening and why? Why was Brian lying there dead on a cold gurney when he had only gone out earlier that evening to have fun with friends?
My wife and I are here today so you can bear witness to a real life story exemplifying what drinking alcohol and getting drunk can result in. In this specific case, it resulted in the death of our son. It happens! Our son Brian was a real person, with a real family and real dreams for the future. Alcohol took all of that away. Our talk to you today is not about lecturing on what you can or cannot do. You will need to make those decisions for yourself. Our talk is truly about Second Chances. A second chance to learn from the tragedy of others. Brian made a bad decision to drink the night he died and that decision cost him his life. Use our son as your second chance to make a better decision when it comes to drinking alcohol. Think of him as you are deciding to take your first sip at a party. Remember, Brian was not expecting to die that night as he started drinking with friends. He was out to have fun just like you. But you now know better that anything you’re not expecting to happen, can happen. Please be careful and choose wisely when considering to drink alcohol. Remember Brian Hoeflinger.
To learn more about Brian and our mission, please visit our website at: www.brianmatters.com and read my book titled, “The Night He Died: The Harsh Reality of Teenage Drinking” which can be purchased through our website or through Amazon. I promise you that the read will be worth your time.