Cheers!

Last night (Sunday) I re-entered two worlds that I haven't been part of for quite a while, and I entered for the first time, a new world that is waaaaaaay outside of anything I ever thought I'd experience...

I went to a bar.

I ran a performance installation piece (no - I'm not really sure what 'performance installation piece' means either).

And I spoke to a bar full of total strangers about the last moments of Daddy Kewl's life.

To put that all together (partly for my benefit as I am still not sure I understand exactly what I was thinking or doing!) - last night I went into a bar where total strangers were eating and drinking, I cut the lights at 20 minute intervals, and during those black outs I told the story of Daddy Kewl's last day with us.
It started off as a bit of fun - the black outs had people curious and the beginning snippets of the story were light hearted and fun. Right before the last black out I handed out free beers to everyone. Naturally, this was very well received.

Then for the last time, the lights went out and I began speaking...

"One second... he said. He sounded distracted. Worse - He sounded serious. There was screeching. Then crunching. Crackling through the phone line. Then nothing. Oh no."

An uncomfortable silence settled over the bar. The lights came up slowly as I continued speaking - getting voicemail, putting the children in the car, driving, the rising panic, seeing the flashing lights, the crumpled metal, finally, seeing M and finishing with the words, "He is gone. He is dead."

Once I stopped speaking, I took a moment to compose myself, then the lights went down again and a spotlight came up on a small stage where I was now standing. I explained that the man who killed my husband had been drinking, but decided to get in the car anyway. He relised his favourite TV show was about to start, so he put his foot down. He was one block from home when he ran a stop sign and hit M's car.

M was killed instantly.

He did not get to see our twin daughters turn one.
He was not there for the birth of our youngest.
He will never be here for birthdays.
For Christmas.
To hear the "I love you"s.
See the smiles.
Give the cuddles.

He'll miss every second.

The other guy was physically unharmed.
But he did miss his TV show.

I went on to mention the free beer people were holding, and the split second it took them to decide whether they wanted it or not.

I asked them to hold the bottles up and look underneath.

To the people with a black dot under their bottles - I'm sorry - You were just hit by a drink driver. But don't worry, you didn't suffer. You were killed instantly.

To the people with a red dot under their bottles - Opps - You just drove drunk and caused an accident. But don't worry, they didn't suffer. They were killed instantly.

To the people with a white dot under their bottles - Congratulations -
You have just won a $50 Taxi voucher, and you won't kill anyone on your drive home tonight.

Finally, I asked people to remember how easy it is to make split second decisions without giving them much thought.

And I asked that next time, when they have to choose, they make their second count.

There was a round of applause that was hesitant, as if people were not sure whether they should be clapping or not, then without me even realising what was happening, people started emptying their beers.

They tipped them down sinks behind the bar, over the veranda, down drains and gutters and into toilets.

As I watched the people around me emptying their drinks, I felt as though all of the emotions that had been bottled up in order to put together and present the installation were being released. I exhaled, for what felt like the first time in weeks, and just like that, it was all gone.

When the last bottle was emptied another round of applause erupted in the bar, and this time it was packed with energy and intent.

***

Tonight, I am absolutely exhausted... But I feel better than I have done in months.

One last thing... To everyone at the bar last night, and to everyone who helped make the installation successful, and to everyone who has put up with me while I've had my head so far up the proverbial backside of this new world -

Cheers!

To making every second count.

17 comments:

rhubarbwhine said...

I am so proud ofyou, Al. I have tears in my eyes at the story and I have many emotions running through my veins. I have no doubt daddy kewl was there beside you tonight. Again let me state my pride in you. And the way you planned the whole speech, so very, very well done. *Stands and applauds*

Tsquared417 said...

Wow. I just found your blog and will go catch up...this gave me goosebumps. I hope it made everyone think.

Debby said...

I am proud of you too. You have a story to tell, and you must always tell it.

Blossom said...

oh my....I am in tears here........
I know you were worried about doing this.but what an impact you had.

massive hugs girl!!!!

Dina said...

I am so proud of you! That is so amazing what you did.

I can imagine it was very hard for you though : (

I don't know if I've told you this, but my sister was hit by a drunk driver. She was walking in a parking lot.

She's okay now...fortunately. But she had massive injuries.

It's such a horrible thing for anyone to do.

I hope you talked some sense into those people.

Alison said...

Rhubarb - Thank you so much. It mean a lot to hear that kind of encouragement.

Tsquared - Not the lightest of posts to find me on! lol... I hope you also found something that made you smile.

Debby - Thank you. I am still talking myself into the fact that telling this particular story will achieve something more than making people (ie, me) cry!
And I am always following your story. You are inspiration personified to us.

Blossom - I was terrified. And I probably will be again next time, and the time after, and the time after that. It helps to have the first one under my belt though.
Thank you for your hugs!

Dina - I didn't know that about your sister. I'm really glad she is ok!
Not everyone in the bar who was drinking was going to drive home drunk. It's not so much talking sense into an entire audience, but getting them to think and be inspired to act when it counts.

Melody said...

Awesome. Well done!

Mama Zen said...

Yes, yes, yes! You are amazing!

M+B said...

*standing up to applaude* I am so very proud of you my friend. You are one of the most courageous people I know :)

jeanie said...

What an awesome response - I cried (again).

Lin said...

So very moving, Al. Well done on helping Daddy Kewl to make this world a better place. :)

Alison said...

Melody - Thanks!

Mama Zen - Only by default! ... It's an amazing opportunity, really.

Lani - Thank you so much for your support. You're a star.

Jeanie - I couldn't have hoped for a better response really! And I cried too... Once the adrenalin wore off! lol

Lin - Thanks... And I maintain that Daddy Kewl is a lazy jerk for getting dead and leaving me all of the work. lol

tiff said...

Wow!
You. Are. Amazing!

I am in awe of you.

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

You are one amazing and very inspirational lady Al.Congratulations.
You never cease to amaze and inspire me.
I hope you broke a few hardened hearts to the drink driving message and in doing so saved other families from losing their loved one.
I am so in awe of you.

Alison said...

Tiff - right back at you darlin'.

Trish - thanks, and I hope so too. It's amazing how many lives can be saved with just one second of thought.

The Hotfessional said...

Wow. I'm speechless.

And since I'm home...and not traveling anyplace except to my front porch with my book, I raise my glass to you. And say "Cheers"

PlanningQueen said...

I cannot believe how brave you are. Completely amazing!