Goodbye My Child

Darlene M. Shank

My tragic story is to all parents who love their children enough to share with them the harsh realities of life. My heart demands that I share my pain and tragedy with others to help prevent the loss of a child to alcohol, narcotics and driving a motor vehicle. A tragedy that you always read in the paper and say, ?This willnever happen to my child!?

My life changed forever Christmas Day, 1998. I received a phone call from the Connecticut State Police wanting directions to my home. The trooper said the matter concerned my 22-year-old son, Richard E. Dysert, Jr. and that was all the information he could share over the phone. I was frantic inside but tried to remain calm, telling my 19-year-old daughter that it would be all right. I knew in my heart that this was a mother'sworst nightmare coming true.

My daughter and I sat on the stairs of our home saying the Lord's Prayer aloud together. Thirty minutes later, two officers arrived and my husband went to meet them. I could tell by the look on his face that this was it.My daughter and I could not wait in the background anymore and went out to the Troopers to hear what my mother's intuition told me I would hear. I fell to my knees screaming ?Dear God, please not MY SON?. I could hear my daughter screaming in the background but my emotion prevented me from making it to her. Thank God for loving people as an neighbor grabbed my daughter and held her tightly to her chest and consoled her as any mother would do to comfort her own child.

On Christmas Eve, Rick, born December 31, 1975, joined another family for their traditional Christmas Eve. At 11:30pm he left there as a passenger in a motor vehicle driven by an 18-year-old driver. Just a short ride to take someone home. At 5:30 am, the car was discovered mangled amongst the trees on the side of the road.The driver and my son were pronounced dead on the day Jesus was born.

I discovered later as I read the police report, the driver had a ?blood alcohol concentration of 0.14% and other drug unknown?. The legal blood alcohol concentration under Connecticut statutes for operators under 21years of age is 0.02. The direct cause of loss of the two young lives was to be determined that ? the driver was operating a motor vehicle under the influence alcohol and unknown drugs, speeding and operating a vehicle that was in poor condition?. My son and the driver were not wearing their seat belts but extensive damage to thevehicle received upon impact after leaving the roadway at an estimated speed of 72 mph negated any safety benefit seatbelts would have rendered.

All the parents, who believe it is okay to allow your child under the drinking age to drink at home, PLEASE reconsider. Rick could have been your son.

My son perished as a direct result of alcohol, driving, and parents who condoned drinking underage. Rick's survivors who love him so very deeply will never recover and the wounds will never heal. A saying states, "When parents die, you lose your past. When a spouse dies, you lose your present. When a child dies, you lose part of your future?.

Parents, please love and care for your children as if there is no tomorrow. Set the example. Be their role model and teach them the difference between right and wrong. Do this by sharing my tragic story written as I lost a part of myself?..My son.

Darlene M. Shank



No email address available
Anniversary date - 12-25-98
Date of post - 3-13-00

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