Hello Readers. I wrote this letter to my son’s middle school teacher after he lent me the book The Ultimate Gift. They had just finished reading it in class and I enjoy reading the same books as the class as another way to stay in touch with my 12 year old. The book brought words to ideas that I had kept in my heart about my brother’s death for years. While the ideas behind the gifts can never ease the raw pain I still feel about losing him, my hope is that this letter or The Ultimate Gift will show there is another perspective.
Dear Mr. K,
Thank you for lending me the book The Ultimate Gift. You are very thoughtful.
You may have sensed that March is difficult for me. March is tough because the 18th is my brother’s birthday. Brett was killed by a drunk driver on July 17, 2009 in a violent car accident. He was 37, married to his college sweatheart and had an incredibly sweet son. He was an amazing person and lived the Twelve Gifts the book refers to daily. I did not know what to call The Gifts at the time, but I knew even back then I had parts of The Ultimate Gift given to me in very different ways. Siblings are a real part of you and I have pieced together the following information given to me to help me understand his last hours.
On the day of the accident Brett was on his way to pick up his son from Vacation Bible School. A drunk driver came speeding down the rural road in a truck on the wrong side at est. 90 mph. He was fleeing from the police over a domestic issue. Brett came around a curve and they hit head on. The other driver was not wearing his seat belt and was killed instantly. Brett was barely alive. Following is a list of gifts that I received.
Gift of Compassion
A compassionate man saw the accident happen and immediately stopped and ran over to hold Brett’s hand. He kept him awake and told him everything was going to be alright. Brett was worried about his wife and son because he was disoriented and thought they might have been in the accident, too. This man reassured him they were not in the accident, they were fine and not to worry. Even during this confusing, traumatic event the only thing Brett thought about was the safety of his family. I thank God for this man because although he was a complete stranger, he talked to Brett like he was his closest friend and did his best to comfort him.
Gift of Heroism
Brett’s car was on fire and he was trapped inside. A heroic man who also saw the accident, ran with a fire extinguisher and put the fire out before it reached Brett. He saved my brother from another horrific situation until the First Responders could arrive. I don’t have the words to thank him enough.
Gift of Determination
It took the First Responders/Rescue Team 45 minutes to get Brett out of the car. They never gave up on him. The Life Flight crew transported him, making moment to moment judgment calls. Finally, there were the doctors and nurses in the hospital. I’ve been told they cheered every time they got his heart to beat, but resumed their mission of saving him when it stopped. Tragically, he died 3 hours after the accident occurred.
Gift of Forgiveness
How do I feel about the man who killed my brother? I don’t hate him. It’s not that I’m that good of a person, it’s just hard to hate a ghost. As a Mom, I feel sadness for him. The drunk driver was only 19 years old and had serious problems in a troubled home. I do not believe the act was intentional although some in my family do. He is not innocent but I don’t think he understood what he was about to cause or what he was going to lose. This is probably not the Gift of Forgiveness but it’s what I have to offer.
Gift of Closure
Brett and I were close siblings. The last time I saw Brett alive was when he and his family visited us at our home in NC a week or so before the accident. The very last thing I said to him was “I love you”, I hugged him and blew him a kiss as they all left. I received one of the greatest gifts of all at that moment.