Dealing with the loss of a child is by all accounts is the most difficult tragedy a parent can ever face. I watched the terrible pain that my father and step-father endured when my little brother lost his life to sudden brain aneurysm. He died on his fifth birthday. People handle dealing with the loss of a loved-one in different ways. Some people keep a personal affect of their loved one; others build permanent memorials; and some develop foundations or engage in other charitable work in memory of their loved one. Because of the loss of my brother and watching the unbearable grief that my parents endured when my brother Robbie died so unexpectedly I feel great compassion for people I meet who have lost children.
This past holiday season we had a customer who purchased a large amount of pink LED Christmas lights which were to be used to wrap a large deciduous tree. We regularly ask our customers about how they are using the lights they purchase from us. I was particularly interested in this customer’s order because of the large amount of pink lights that were ordered. It is not uncommon for us to sell 100s of sets of white Christmas lights but no one had ever purchased this many pink Christmas lights from us in the past. We sell a fair amount of pink lights during the month of October as customers use them to show their support for breast cancer awareness month. However, this order was placed in December so my interest in this display was further peeked.
After assisting the customer with her order and learning a bit about her plans for the installation and display of the pink lights, I learned the lights were being used to honor the memory of Casey Feldman. During some email correspondence the customer emailed me the url of a website about Casey. I did not think much about it at the time because the customer’s last name was not Feldman. However, after the holiday season I received an email from the customer with pictures of the tree she had decorated in Casey’s honor. The tree look magnificent. I see a fair amount of light displays with LED Christmas lights and I have never seen a display that was as spectacular as this one. After marveling at the picture for a while, I responded to the customer’s email and asked for her permission to post it on our website. She kindly agreed and asked that we mention something about Casey.
I dug up my old email with the link that the customer had sent me to the website about Casey. I visited the website and learned that Casey Feldman was a young, intelligent and strikingly beautiful Fordham University journalism student who had been struck down and killed by a distracted driver while crossing the street. The story about this extraordinary young woman who had lost her life in such a senseless manner was heartbreaking. I responded to the customer’s email and shared my thoughts with her about what I learned about Casey and the tragedy that ended her life. I then asked the customer how she knew Casey. Casey was her daughter. I felt embarrassed that I did not asked about her relationship to Casey earlier.
I did not know Casey Feldman but her story and the efforts her mother and others who loved her have made to honor her memory are a true testament to the impact she must have had on those around her. One of the website’s established to honor Casey’s memory reads “Because of Casey, I will…” This short phrase was not lost on me. I thought about this phrase quite a bit over the following day and became aware of how frequently my attention to the road is diverted while I am driving. Casey Feldman’s story made me realize that one small distraction from a comparatively unimportant phone call or text message could result in the end of someone’s life. At the end of that day, I finished the phrase posted on Casey’s website. Because of Casey, I will no longer be distracted while driving.
While most people wouldn’t argue that driving while intoxicated is not safe, most people underestimate the dangers of driving while distracted. Here are some interesting statistics:
- Distraction from using a cell phone while driving can slow your reaction time as much as having a blood alchohol level of .08.
- Driver’s that use cell phones are 4 times more likely to get into serious accidents.
- Distracted driving is a factor in 25% of reported crashes.
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity that is associated with driving by 37%
- Distracted driving is a serious problem.
Take a moment today and think about how much your attention is taken away from the road by your cell phone or anything else while you drive. It only takes a second for some silly distraction to end someone’s life.
To learn more about Casey and what is being done in her memory and to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving please visit CaseyFeldman.com. See pictures, video, and news clips about the tree decorated in Casey’s honor please visit the Casey Feldman Smugmug page.