How do you sum up the loss of a loved one?

This is the roadside memorial cross that hubby built and installed on the one-year anniversary of the death of his Mom.

This coming week, our impaired driving story takes yet again another turn.

Trent, the man convicted of impaired driving causing the death of hubby’s Mom (Mamma K), is up for parole on July 4, 2012 at 9 am.

Hubby, myself, the Dude and many other family members will be driving to the Westmorland Institution, the minimum-security, campus-style complex that has been Trent’s home since his sentencing on April 5, 2011 to watch Trent face the music and ask for his freedom. If granted (which it’s quite likely it will be) Trent will have only served 456 days in jail for getting drunk and stoned and stealing a woman’s life. How’s that for fair? It’s simply not.

The parole board will receive copies of all the victim impact statements that were issued to the court for consideration at Trent’s original sentencing. You can read mine, hubby’s and the Dude’s here.

Hubby decided to write a new victim impact statement which he will read aloud to the parole board on July 4. When I read it, I cried. He pours out his heart, soul, and you can actually feel the impact and depth of his loss. He…the incredible man that he is…gave me permission to share it with you today.

About Donna Kennie, My Mother, My Friend, My Memory

Before Trent Mallet’s choice to consume alcohol and smoke marijuana and drive a ¾ ton missile toward East Saint John and navigate it across the yellow line, thereby tearing my mother and her car literally in two and leaving my son injured and emotionally scarred for life…my mother was many thing to many people.

I could tell you the usual attributes of someone who was taken from this world too soon by another’s hand:

  • She was a daughter, mother, grandmother, colleague and friend.
  • She was a very kind-hearted woman.
  • She was full of life.
  • She was always smiling and the first person to enjoy life with a good laugh.
  • She was always the first person to extend a helping hand to those that needed it.
  • She was passionate for adventure, animals, camping, travel, and gardening and just life in general.

She was more than a handful of attributes and actions. She was the love and support system for so many people, a selfless woman who always gave more of herself than she could often afford to give financially or physically. She was my Mom!

She was!!

Not words anyone wants to use to describe their mother but they are the words I’ve been left with since Aug 1st, 2009.

On that date, she was returning to a family reunion/camping trip at her daughter’s property in St. Martins where she drove almost 100km to Quispamsis get supplies such as tent pegs, mini sips, and campfire snacks for her six grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Then with Trent Mallet’s act of impaired driving and an explosion of plastic, metal and flesh, my 16-year-old son got to watch his grandmother, with all of her devastating injuries, take her last breath and die right in front of him.

For all that she was – as a result of the actions/decisions/choices of Trent Mallet – she is now just a set of pictures that I’ve memorized from staring at them so frequently, an old email that I’ve read a thousand times to hear the tone of her voice in my head, a dial-tone in my ear from a phone I’ve picked up countless time as I thought to myself “I should give Mom a call…”.

Her presence in our lives now consists of a metal container of ashes that sits in my office next to a picture that we take to special events/places that she would have liked. A grave plot to visit on Mother’s Day, Christmas, and her birthday! She lives on in endless stories around the dinner tables, family functions and late night campfires and a million “she would have’s” – but the truth of it all is she’s gone – nothing but a memory now

Emotional impact since Trent’s sentencing:

  • First I would like to point out that Trent Mallet plead not guilty to impaired driving causing death – we now know this plea was ruled false by the court. It took 20 months, over 12 court dates to determine that Trent was guilty – all the while the family was forced to relive the loss, the pain, the anger, and the frustration at each court date – all of which Trent chose to prolong with his not guilty plea. A remorseful individual would have wanted to pay his debt and to not cause the victim’s family more pain and suffering, especially knowing that children were involved. I’d ask this be taken into consideration for his FIRST parole board hearing.
  • It is going on 3 years and not having my mother in my life has changed me as a person. I suffer bouts of depression. I suffer problems sleeping. I’ve gained 50lbs since my mother’s death. My overall level of happiness has been depleted. It has affected my relationships with my son, my wife, other family members and friends. I used to be more happy and carefree and it has been replaced with an underlying deep pain, sadness and seriousness. I now have crankiness, a shortness, and/or very low tolerance with people who I never had before. I feel like Trent not only killed my mother but killed a piece of me and everyone in our family – a piece that cannot be repaired or replaced.
  • Family functions that were based around my mother no longer take place. She was the glue in this family that brought everyone together. She still brings the family together but now she brings us together at MADD Canada fundraisers and Candlelight Vigils.
  • Mother’s Days are the worst day of the year now. Cards, commercials, store flyers and then the hardest part of all – trying to celebrate with my wife and her Mother – all the while every moment tearing at my insides as I’m reminded what I cannot experience with my own Mother.
  • I built and installed my own mother’s roadside memorial – need I say more.
  • I cannot concentrate at work, my head gets clouded with emotions about my mother, my son, Trent, the crash, how she died, how she felt, etc. To the point where it has cost me poor performance evaluations/promotions.
  • I’ve watched the pain and suffering of my son, nieces and nephews endure with the absence of their grandmother in their lives. Helping small kids work through their issues of grief, anger and loss has been torture and we’ve all felt helpless.
  • It’s hard to describe the ripple effect Trent Mallet’s decision to drive impaired has had. He didn’t just kill my mother and injure my son – he has changed the lives of hundreds of people he can’t even imagine.
  • I am currently serving a life sentence for a crime I did not commit; a crime that claimed my mother and injured my son physically but more importantly – emotionally forever!

Conclusion:

On Aug 1, 2009, the world could have lived with one less person but it shouldn’t have been my mother!

I waited 1069 days for Trent to take responsibility; to own what he did; to look the family in the eye and say “I did this to your family, it wasn’t just 3 beers and the world’s smallest joint. I was drunk, impaired and I killed your mother and narrowly missed killing your son”. If he cannot say this and take responsibility then he’s not ready for society and society is not ready for Trent Mallet.

It’s time for action to be taken to put a stop to impaired driving. It’s time for society to stand up and demand that our roads be as safe as possible. It’s time to set an example and send a message that “people are not going to be mowed down on our roads!”

My Mother’s last words were “what’s this guy…??”  Today I hope the answer to this question isn’t “Free to go!!

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Hubby and I share this with you not so you will feel sorry for hubby (or any of us for that matter). We share it as a message of hope, awareness and prevention. We share so that you can put a face and real consequences to impaired driving. We share it so that if anyone reading this blog has ever driven impaired or gotten in a vehicle with someone who was impaired, that you will think twice next time and realize that it’s simply NOT worth the risk.

It’s not worth being the person that tears a family apart just to save a couple bucks on a cab.

What would you say to someone asking for parole after killing your mother/daughter/father/brother? How would you convince a parole board to deny parole? Or do you believe parole is an important part of the criminal justice system to bridge between incarceration and the return to the community? I’d love to hear your thoughts?

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

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