Report to the Nation 2011

FROM MADD’S PRESIDENT On July 7th this year, we would have celebrated my daughterAlisa’s 35th birthday. Wow – 35.

She would have no doubt been a barefoot bride—quite possibly on a beach somewhere. She hated shoes—even had a sign on her bedroom door: “only bare feet allowed.” She was so very loyal to her friends and family. She loved her little nephews and had a knack for instantly soothing them as well as lighting up their faces. Today, their lives as college students would be so enriched with her involve- ment as she gently guided them from her wise-auntie vantage point. Her friends always say she was a do-the-right-thing kind of person. Whatever path her career took, she would have followed her heart. Perhaps it would have had something to do with dance, because she loved it so much. Her choice would have been guided by her passion. I can see her working for an environmental group to save the planet somehow. Long before it was a common thing to do,Alisa demanded that her family recycle. To be sure, she would have been the first person to call her sister and nephews living on the North Carolina coast after Hurricane Irene to make sure they were safe.As I write this today, the electricity is still out following the hur- ricane. Were she here, I know she would call me and assure me the electricity would be turned on in “four, maybe five hours.” Sadly, I will never receive that call because her life was taken before it really began—when she was only 15—by someone who chose to drink and drive. The fifth anniversary of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® is a time to reflect on our progress—but not to rest on our laurels. We’ll save the victory celebration for the day when loved ones are no longer left to daydream about how things might have been— the day when we achieve our goal of no more victims.

I awoke that morning wanting to call her to give her some guff about making me older. She would have laughed her fun giggle and offered me a gra- cious, “You’re the youngest mom I know in your age group.” I would have replied, “You’re my favorite daughter in your age group.” That is our family joke. She loved family jokes. During a trip to Connecticut one year, her younger brother kept asking the classic,

“Are we almost there yet?” The reply was “Four, maybe five hours.” Follow- ing that trip, it becameAlisa’s stock response. Everything took “four, maybe five hours.” Her two best friends were talking after a recentWalk Like MADD ® event about what their lives are like now—and whatAlisa would be doing today. Through their laughter, they shared that they weren’t sure who her mate would be but were sure he would have to tolerate cats, lots of cats. She could not turn away a stray. The same nurturing spirit would have made her a natural mother. Her friends, both newmoms themselves, felt certainAlisa would have had kids. They shared howmuch life changes with a newborn and how painful it is to think about not being able to share that withAlisa, the one person who most loved taking care of others. My heart follows that dream. I can imagine her calling me up to ask if I could come over and watch the baby.Aboy or girl would be equally joyful for her. Before the child was born, we would have decorated the roomwith second- hand treasures she’d found. But the exquisite bliss of her child would truly have been all that mattered to her. How I long to just be able to quietly observe her cuddling her baby. My imagination strays to other experiences we might have had. I would have loved sharing in her plans for her wedding. How earthy it would have been.

Jan Withers MADD National President


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