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!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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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Comments

  1. every blog you write on this topic is emotional, heart felt and real. Of course I cried as I read this. Your loss is tragic. Not only did trent Mallet take your MIL’s life, he destroyed lives around her. and not owning responsibility for it is the biggest crime of all. {{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}

  2. Thank you for the shout-out, Natalie, but even more, thank you for sharing your family’s loss and passion to eradicate impaired driving. All my respect and support to you and yours. Your family’s courage to share and stand up against wrong will make a difference.

  3. This entire statement is powerful and I hope it does what it was written for…keeping Trent Mallet in jail. Sending {{hugs}} and positive thoughts to you guys, especially on the 4th.

  4. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough words.

    Hugs for you and your family, Natalie.

  5. Very moving statement. Hopefully it will have the desired effect on the members of the parole board, but I suspect that they probably know what decision they’re going to make before anyone ever shows up. Yes, I’m jaded when it comes to anything involving the government and legal system…anywhere.

    What would I say to Trent? Boy, you better hope they keep you locked up. If they don’t, you’ll wish they had.

    • Kristy….sadly we feel much the same as you. And it’s so sad that we have become so cynical when it comes to our justice system but alas…we have.
      Love what you’d say to Trent….we feel the same way!

  6. Karen McFarland says:

    Death, by any definition is the worst thing we can experience in our life. We expect it. We know it is inevitable. it is a gloomy cloud that hovers above all of us throughout our lives.But when it strikes unexpectantly, especially when it could’ve been prevented… Trent Mallet is an unremorseful, drunken manslayer. 456 days in a cell does not seem like enough time. Enough punishment. Try terminal encarseration.

  7. As citizens, if we don’t attend the parole hearings and let the parole board know exactly how a given situation has impacted us – the practice is to set the perpetrator of the crime free. This man cannot admit to his crime, how can he possibly be rehabilitated? Your words are beautiful and hopefully he’ll be behind bars for a very long time – as in forever.

    • I am so hopeful that the parole board denies him his freedom. 456 days is simply not enough time to spend in jail for murder (because to me, that’s what it was). Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comment and support Sheri – means a lot to us!

  8. Natalie, I felt so much pain for your husband, son, you, and the entire family when I read his letter.

    The scary thing about a substance abuser is that they are just one drink/snort/puff away from their next binge. In the U.S., no insurance company will take on a recovering alcoholic/substance abuser until they’ve had at least 5 years of sobriety. The recidivism rate is simply too high, even for those who seek help on their own and become active in programs such as AA.

    If he claims he’s recovered, it’s bullshit. There is no such thing as a “recovered” alcoholic. We can only claim “recovering” one day at a time.

    What about someone with less than 2 years of enforced sobriety? The risk increases exponentially (IMHO) because he did not make a conscious choice. The courts did it for him.

    For the sake of justice for your family and safety of families on the road in the future, I hope your entreaties meet with success.

    Here, it’s vehicular homicide. I don’t believe parole would even be on the table.

    And, the chances that this horrific accident happened on his first drunk drive? Slim to nil.

    • AMEN Gloria!!
      Thank you so much for sharing your words and thoughts. I agree with you completely!!!
      I wish in Canada they would either change it to vehicular homicide or make the minimum sentence requirements comparable to second degree murder or at minimum, manslaughter. I find the usual sentencings for impaired driving causing death outrageous. They are based on precedence and right now in Canada they are usually 3 to 5 years in jail (but keep in mind that offenders are up for parole after serving only 1/3 of their sentence….).
      And yes….the chances that this was his first drunk drive are SLIM to none. MADD Canada, using survey, criminal charge and criminal conviction data from 2006, was able to determine that a person would have to drive impaired, on average once a week, every week, for more than three years before being charged with an impaired driving offence, and for over six years before ever being convicted.
      Whenever I stop and read that…it stops me DEAD in my tracks! Astounding stats!
      Thanks for all your support Gloria – HUGS!

  9. What powerful and loving words… I don’t feel sorry for you guys, Natalie, I feel sorry WITH you. I’ve been so touched by all of this since I first came upon your blog. I’ll be thinking of you and sending so much love and positive vibes your way next week. Please know that you’ve got many, many hearts and angels cheering for you.

  10. I have such compassion and tears for your honest statement of how your family has been affected. I can’t imagine going through what you, your hubby, and his son have endured. Thank you for continuing to share it with the rest of us so that we can recognize the lasting impact of people who drive impaired. I pray that the parole hearing goes well.

  11. Thank you for sharing that most heartfelt victim impact statement. Hubby has poured his heart out in a way that touches everyone. He has expressed feelings that go to the very core of how such a terrible, totally avoidable loss changes so many lives. Good luck at the hearing. We will all be there in spirit. {{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}} ❤

    • I agree Patricia….I was astounded at the emotion he was able to put on the page. I am obviously not the only writer in the house. 🙂
      Knowing you are all there with us makes a huge difference! HUGS!!!

  12. prudencemacleod says:

    Touching, beautiful, heart breaking, and should be mandatory reading at the door of every bar and liquor store.

  13. Reading this brought tears to my eyes, and a deeper understanding of what your husband has lived through.

  14. Dearest Natalie and Hubby, you know my heart is with you! What a powerful statement. I hope Trent stays in jail for a much longer time. One year is not enough, not nearly. Especially since he hasn’t taken responsibility and said those words you all need to hear. I’m sorry.

    I know this blog is usually the sillier side to your personalities, but I love seeing this softer side as well. The devotion the two of you have for each other, MADD Canada, and your families makes my insides go all gooey. My thoughts will be with you July 4th in hopes that they don’t let that monster go free. Mamma K was too remarkable a woman for that to happen!

    Love and hugs, my friend.

    • Snifffffffffff
      Thank you…your friendship and support means everything!!!! Knowing you’ll be there in spirit and are with us every step of the way is huge!
      Love and hug hugs….

  15. Elena Aitken says:

    Oh, wow. Natalie, I’ve read all your blogs on this topic and they’ve all resonated. But this one…wow. Tears stream down my face and I feel yours and hubby’s pain deeply. Brave to share this with the world, but so important.
    I will be thinking of you tomorrow. he needs to stay behind bars. Canada must toughen up on these laws.
    Hugs, my friend. Big hugs!

Trackbacks

  1. […] wee overwhelmed with everything I wanted to do clashing with everything I needed to do. Then I read How do you sum up the loss of a loved one? and perspective clicks into […]

  2. […] hubby got up and read his statement. He did so well. He read from his heart, his words and voice filled with emotion. Tears running […]

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