Be careful on St. Patrick’s Day

By Staff
Posted 3/23/10

Editor,     This Wednesday marks the celebration of all things Irish, in honor of St. Patrick. Most of us look forward to the wearin’ o’ the green, shamrocks, parties and …

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Be careful on St. Patrick’s Day



    This Wednesday marks the celebration of all things Irish, in honor of St. Patrick. Most of us look forward to the wearin’ o’ the green, shamrocks, parties and the like; it’s a happy time of year. But not everyone feels the joy.

    March 16 marked the three-year observation of the day a young man with his whole life ahead of him was robbed of the opportunity to live that life. On that night in 2007, 15-year-old Kyle Walls was a passenger in a car that came speeding around a curve in Lochbuie, hit a tree at a high rate of speed and bounced into a garage. Well, that was my tree and garage. I’d worked that night as a bartender, returning home around 4 a.m., only to be greeted by a policeman who asked if I knew what had happened here. I looked a little more closely at the front of my property. There was a large pool of oil on the driveway. At first I was angry that somebody had decided to change their oil in my driveway; after all, I paid quite a handsome sum to have that concrete put in. Then I noticed that several garage door panels were crumpled. The officer informed me that a teenager’s car had lost control and hit my tree, bouncing into the garage. OK, now I was really mad. Damn those irresponsible kids. I started spouting off some similar sentiment to him. He then said one of the children died. My anger evaporated instantly, replaced by disbelief and then a surge of emotion that caused me to break down in tears.

    I am childless by choice, so there’s no way I can even begin to relate to the agonizing pain felt by his mother, a pain she is forced to revisit every year at a time when the rest of the country is celebrating. But I can assure you that I feel pain also, and instead of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, I go outside and look at the tree. There are memorial items at its base, including a vase with permanent flowers, a rosary or two and several candles in various states of burn-down. The garage door panels are leaning against the fence behind the tree. After the accident, I set out some Sharpie markers so the kids could express their feelings on the door. I’ve replaced the garage door, but I promised the kids I’d never get rid of the panels with their memorials and artwork. There are some really good artists in this town, by the way.

    The point of this letter is twofold. First, I’d like to remind teenagers that they are not immortal. Kyle never dreamed he wouldn’t live to see his 16th birthday, or go to prom, or get married and have kids. But he didn’t. Sure, it’s a lot of fun to speed around curves with no thought to the possible consequences. These consequences were demonstrated in the most horrible way that night. You are young and carefree, having fun. But please remember that this can change in a flash.

    Second, I would offer this same caution to adults. St. Patty’s Day is widely known as an alcohol holiday, when we drink green beer (sometimes to excess) and perhaps get in a car and drive home after doing so. I will forever remember this day as the day a 15-year-old lost his life, not a holiday for celebration. That’s not fair. I was involved only peripherally, but I still feel an overwhelming sadness, with absolutely no desire to go out and celebrate. Think of what his poor mother is feeling. Even though we’re adults, each and every one of us has somebody who loves us deeply and will be devastated by our death.

    On this day dedicated to a saint, please offer up a prayer to whatever deity you believe in, not only for the soul of Kyle Walls to rest in peace, but for all of us to be safe and careful so nobody else’s family has to live through this pain.

Ms. Fred Boucher



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