The sad, hard truth about turning 21

Originally published on April 18, 2017 on my old blog site.

This past week, I celebrated the big 21.  Everything went well.  Everyone asked me what I did for my birthday, and my answer was as follows:

Woke up, interviewed Aramark of WCU for a story, ate some lunch, worked on my car, and went out for some beers with a few friends at a local brewery.

Many of my friends said things like ‘that doesn’t sound very fun’ or ‘it was fun if you don’t remember anything’ which I don’t really understand.  I think I value my birthday more by being able to remember it and the people who were there… but that’s just me.

When the clock hit midnight, and I was all of a sudden 21, I celebrated.  I celebrated with my closest friends, and I’m professional enough to say I prearranged a ride because I knew I would need one.  But even consuming so much alcohol that I would need a ride makes me uncomfortable to even do on occasion.

On February 14, 2015 around 4 a.m., my older brother Gary was killed in a car accident when the driver of his vehicle struck a tree less than a mile from his house.  February 13, 2015 was his big 21.  image1-3

I wake up everyday having to think about this.  Now that I’m of age, the thought is second nature to me in any conversation involving alcohol.  To think that I have now lived longer than my older brother is a nightmare.

According to toxicology reports, the driver of the vehicle was even more intoxicated than Gary was.  I think everyday why I wasn’t the one driving the vehicle.  Why didn’t he call me?  The driver was Gary’s best friend since they were kids.  Maybe Gary trusted him that much?  I don’t know.  The answer won’t bring him back, and that’s a sad, hard truth.

So my big 21 was spent on enjoying the simple things.  I didn’t want to think about the Valentine’s day two years prior, or that my mom wasn’t here to celebrate either.  I think that’s fair.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for a long time.  I just think about the subject of alcohol from a different angle now, and it’ll be that way forever.

4 thoughts on “The sad, hard truth about turning 21

  1. Ooh my what bravery to write this.I can never k ow your pain that you have to live with every day but I must say that was a beautiful sad read. Thankful you included looking st alcohol from a different angle. I think everyone has been effected with alcohol in some form. My prayer for you you will find less pain in the words you write. Thank you for your words..

  2. Well said Gavin, I couldn’t imagine the pain you go through. It was a devastating time for me as his friend. I couldn’t fathom for you. My heart aches for the pain you’ve been brought but you are so strong to me. And although we don’t talk, I catch myself thinking about you every time I passed the site of the accident. About what you go through everyday. It’s been almost 10 years since I lost my mom when she was 29, and I was 14. And it hurts so bad. I know you’re making Gary proud, as well as your mother. You’re a great roll model for your younger brother and I’m sure you hear this a lot, but I myself am proud of you. Let me know if you ever need anything.

  3. Wow what a special message! Loved both of those boys. So proud of you Gavin. Keep spreading the message. So many need to hear it. Prayers for you.

    Mrs. Angie Ray
    Teacher/friend

  4. Gavin this is beautiful but I know there is more to tell. I miss your mother so much and question why I couldn’t help her. I was there to console her every minute after his death. I had someone make a cross, I had a headstone made. There are so many questions. She loved you so much and was so proud of you. I pray you keep climbing and achieving your goals. Hugs and prayers Gavin.

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