Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Broken heart


It’s now a proven fact that walking quickly on a treadmill, especially at an incline while wearing a mask, is not fun. I had a stress test this morning, as if life in times of covid isn’t already stressful enough.

While the tech was gathering “before” ultrasound images of my heart I gazed up at the ceiling wondering what a broken heart looked like. And if he’d be able to see that mine surely was.

Dad and his sister.

Seventeen years ago this morning my dad was killed, while slowed in traffic, by a semitruck driver who fell asleep at the wheel. Dad never had a chance.

So today I wonder about a lot of things. Whether our driver ever thinks about the man he killed. Whether today’s date stirs his heart like it stirs the hearts of my family. Whether he measures time in before and afters like we do.

And I think a lot about the recent sentence of the truck driver in Colorado who killed four people and injured several more in a firey crash in 2019. Colorado laws required that sentences for each of the charges he was convicted of be served consequently, and that’s why his sentence was 110 years.

Being a big brother.

Is 110 years too long? I don’t know. What is the right number of years for killing a person, intentionally or not? The Colorado driver made several bad decisions on his way to that devastating crash, the most important being him passing the truck runoff lane on his way to rear ending all those cars.

The driver that killed my dad made several bad decisions too, the most important being continuing to drive tired and not stopping at the state visitor center only 12 miles prior to the crash site. But in Georgia his bad decisions resulted in a misdemeanor and the max time he could serve in jail was 30 days. Is 30 days too short a time to pay for negligence that results in the death of someone else?

Being a dad at Christmas.

On one hand I’m sorry the Colorado driver got such a heavy sentence because it’s garnering sympathy for the driver. He says he wishes he had died instead of all those people. I thought for a moment that he felt remorse. And then he added, he wishes he had died ‘because this is no life.” His statement reflects his own fear and frustration and loss rather than any feeling of responsibility. Lost in all of the hyperbole are the injured, the dead, and their families. The real victims of this crash.

On the other hand, I am grateful that the Colorado driver got such a heavy sentence, because it’s bringing attention to these types of crashes which occur all too frequently. Time and time again I hear the same story. Someone was stopped in traffic. A truck doesn’t stop, for any number of reasons. People die horrible deaths. Truck drivers die too. Some people survive to live lives that are never the same.

Everybody involved lives in a world of before and after.

Being a dad to such a big family carries a lot of responsibility.

Earlier this week I attended a Zoom meeting with several volunteers of the Truck Safety Coalition. We’re trying to get through the holidays by leaning on each other. My heart, toughened by seventeen years of scarring, broke again as I listened to several new stories.

One young man feels lost because his fiancé was killed on her way to work a few months ago. They had a whole life planned — he was helping her get through nursing school, after which she would work and help him get through pilot school. Now he sits in their apartment stunned as he trys to come to terms of his ‘after.’

And another young person has been married only eighteen months when her husband was hit by a semi last month. He’s in an ICU now, can’t move, is on a ventilator and communicates by blinking his eyes. She had just started law school. Now she sits with him, advocating for his care in a hospital short staffed and overrun with covid. It’s not clear yet what their ‘after’ will look like.

Being appreciated by his employer.

That night our group talked a little bit about the Colorado driver and his sentence. The widow of one of the victims of that crash is new to our organization. She doesn’t want his sentence commuted. She says the people pushing for that have not sat through three weeks of testimoney. That they don’t know the whole truth.

She says that she, and all of us, were handed life sentences, too, the day that marked our own before and afters.

We used to laugh a lot. Before.

It’s a complicated issue and will take more pondering on my part before I know exactly where I stand. Meanwhile, I’ll start again repairing my battle scarred heart. No matter how many layers of patches I’ve put on it, it seems to break just as easily as it did seventeen years ago.

Thank you all for reading this far. Drive carefully. Stay safe. Protect that heart of yours and hug your families close. It’s a proven fact that broken hearts can’t ever be entirely healed.

I imagine he has an ocean view now too.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

20 thoughts on “Broken heart

  1. Dawn–you were the first one I thought of when I read about that Colorado driver. And other drivers are refusing to drive into Colorado because of his sentence? And the DA is lobbying to have his sentence reduced? I don’t understand. But then the driver who killed your dad received only 30 days? A slap on the wrist for him, but a slap in the face for your family. No, I don’t understand any of this.
    My husband had to have a stress test a couple weeks ago. He had to stop midway to use his inhaler. Luckily, somehow, he got his heart rate up enough that they could get a reading. I hope yours turns out well.


  2. Thank you for opening your heart to us. Perhaps the most profound statement–and the one that will stay with me–is “Everybody involved lives in a world of before and after.”

    May your memories of a loving father and family bring you comfort.



  3. I’ve seen a bunch of petitions on FB to sign for that guy. People are outraged at the sentence, but I see nothing about the victims or their loved ones. I’m not signing. Peace and good vibes to you 💕


  4. While his death was a tragic event, please celebrate his life to the fullest. He looks like a man who loved to laugh, remember that. Merry Christmas.


  5. This is heartbreaking to read, also, but I’m glad I read it, if only to feel it is fitting to honor your dad and what his loss means to your family. Hugs!!!


  6. I’ve been thinking about the before, and about that day. I agree, it feels like my heart is scaring over but then it gets ripped open again.


  7. Heart breaking for you, it must be heart breaking for all concerned, many struggle after a horrific accident, it changes so many lives forever. So sad.


  8. It’s so hard to know where to land with where you stand. In the end, I think we stand in different places at different times. At least, I hope we all do, I hope we can see the many sides to every issue, every person’s situation and choices. That openness can make it difficult. Sometimes I wish I could just be closed-minded and just angry! And yet then a moment later I realize I don’t know the whole truth about someone’s situation … and maybe someone was quoted as saying something, but didn’t really say exactly that. Sigh. In the end, I do know, absolutely, that we need more stringent laws about truck driving and truckers, and truck maintenance. If that truck driver really did say that and meant it, then he has no clue about what he did and I absolutely support his continued incarceration. As a retired diesel truck mechanic, I know absolutely that we need better laws and better trucks.
    Here’s to your Dad and Mom and all your family, Dawn. Great photos of them. 🙂 Makes me remember to go dig my old photos out and enjoy then too. Thank you.


  9. When ever we read stories about your heartbreak, we want to come over and make you feel better. We believe both sides lose in these trucking accidents. The people that have lost so much, and the ones that has to live with what they have done.


  10. what a horrible day for you and for your family… and we wonder too if the driver still knows what he caused… hugs to you, we are so sorry that this day what should bring joy to all, became such a sad one for you….


  11. Such a tragic story at what should be a happy, family time of year. Hugs to you and your family, Dawn, on the loss of your dad. I know that, even after all these years, you miss him and always will. He was taken far too soon. Such heart-breaking tales of the folks who have suffered similar endings with their loved ones. As someone who long ago reported on court trials, I can assure you that finding an equitable solution to how much a life is worth isn’t easy. Hang in there, and keep fighting the good fight until changes can be made. And in the meantime, know your dad is still in your heart!


  12. Very hard to have a loved one die suddenly and in a senseless way. To have it happen around a holiday brings the reminder every year. Hope you are able to find healing and peace.


  13. Sending you hugs Dawn.


  14. Lots of hugs Dawn I hope your test went well. Sometimes I think the people who cost others their lives really do not care but then there has to be some who do really care and who always think about it.


  15. I hope your stress test results turned out okay. It must be so hard to keep opening your heart to this imperfect world after what happened to your dad. Such beautiful family photos…


  16. Hugs to you Dawn. I don’t know that we should ever forget our loved ones, no matter how it is that they pass on from our lives. Your tribute to your dad is beautiful, thank you for sharing it with us. Having a trucker in the family, I hear how other truckers aren’t responsible – driving tired or distracted, neither one good for other travelers. And oftentimes they are foreign to the roads & conditions they’re driving on. You can’t stop one of those big rigs on a dime, it takes miles to slow down.
    I hope that your stress test went well. I bet the masking didn’t make for a comfortable time. Yikes. Best wishes for moments to heal your broken heart.


  17. I too thought of you when I read about the Colorado driver. And I had the same thought. Was it too long? But how do you measure too long when four people lost their lives. But then again it wasn’t premeditated, but it was careless. And then, 30 days?? for the loss of your dad? That’s heartbreaking all in itself. I’m sorry for the loss of your dad and how hard this journey has been.


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