I know some of you reading this are thinking “What does this even have to do with photography?”. Well, quite frankly, a lot. Most of the weddings and other events I shoot serve alcohol to the masses. All the venues I shoot live music in serve alcohol. I have even had a model or two show up drunk. Showing up drunk to a shoot is very unprofessional and sloppy. But to my point…
Growing up, I spent the majority of my time with one of two people; Matthew Garcia and Bryanna Beauregard. If I wasn’t with one, I was with the other- if we weren’t all together. Some of my fondest memories growing up include these two people. I cherish every moment I’ve spent with them. I am sitting here laughing just thinking about some of the shenanigans we used to get into. Though I am separated from Bryanna by an extreme amount of miles, we still talk and converse regularly. Today, she brought to my attention that we’ve been friends for 16 years. SIXTEEN years. Happy anniversary, Bry. I love you. You’re the sister I wish I had.
Matthew. Matthew. Matthew. Matt was 21 when he was taken from my life and countless others’ lives. It’s been four years since a reckless, careless, and selfish drunk kid ran a red light in North Houston and killed my best friend. It’s no easier today to talk about it, than it was after I found out. The person who hit him, DC Wilson, 25 now, had 3X the legal limit of .08 in Texas of alcohol in his blood. The police also found unprescribed Xanax in his vehicle and a crack pipe. How he even got the key into the ignition is beyond me. But he did and he killed one of the best people I’ve ever had the chance to encounter.
Matt was such a passionate, loving, and caring person. I’ve never known him to be outright mean to anyone. Matt’s musical talent is beyond words. He had the chance to play his cello in Carnegie Hall in New York City. I can still hear him playing piano if I concentrate long enough. It’s haunting. I went to his mother’s house in North Houston when I found out. She had the most beautiful display for his urn. It’s a mirrored cube and simple- I’m sure he would have approved of it. It’s placed on a shelf above his piano and next to it, his cello. Walking into their memorial room, I could feel a chill run up my spine. All I could do was try not to cry and to be strong for Lauri. We talked for hours about all our hilarious and touching memories of him. It’s all we have now and it’s devastating even four years later. I’ve lost a lot of friends through the years, but none in such a horrific and undeserving way. Talk about ‘wrong place, wrong time’. Matt will never have the chance to have a family of his own. He will never know my daughter and be the uncle that isn’t really an uncle. I won’t get to buy him stupid birthday cards every year any more. I won’t be receiving a balloon for mine any longer. No more texts at 3am wondering if I am still up and wanna go to Jack in the Box with him. No more walking the bayous. Never again will I hug him. No more driving around aimlessly, screaming the lyrics to the songs that mean the most to us. I miss him. I miss him more than I can put into words. I’d give up all the money in the world for one last dance at prom.
I’m writing this to explain the heartache that drunk driving can and will eventually cause. You may think “oh, I’ll never hit anyone. I’m not that drunk.” The sad truth is you are that drunk and one day… you will kill someone. You will destroy a family. You will disrupt people’s lives that you don’t even know. Just a passerby on the parkway. Innocent. Undeserving. A complete and utter stranger. Think of it this way… think of your most favorite person in the world. Maybe a child, a husband, a cousin? Now, imagine that person is killed by a careless drunk driver. Your favorite person was just driving home late from work and happened to be at the same intersection as this jerk. Gone in an instant. That empty feeling? It never disappears. You will think about your loved one daily and subsequently… the drunk who took their life. I’ve wanted to write DC Wilson a letter for years now. What would I tell him? I thought about telling him what a wonderful person Matt was and all the great things he had the chance to do while alive. Then it dawned on me, would he even care? Would he even read it all the way through? Would he respond? Then what?
DC Wilson got away with it scott free. Yeah, you heard me. While in the court room, Matthew’s mother sat on the defendant’s side, right behind the accused. DC’s lawyer told his mother, “Garcia? Oh, just another hispanic family. They probably have 12 other kids to love.” Are you kidding me? Matthew was adopted by his father, thus the hispanic last name, but way to be heartless and presumptuous. DC still frequents bars in San Marcos, TX and drives home drunk from every one of them. How do I know? San Marcos is a small town and you’re bound to run into a few people.
I hope I have changed at least one person’s mind about drinking and driving tonight, tomorrow night, or your friend’s wedding next month. I leave you with a song by Brand New about a flower girl and a limousine driver who were killed by a drunk driving leaving a wedding.
Notice: Everything mentioned in this blog entry is of public information and fact. Police reports are available through Harris County PD in Houston, TX.