For Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Merritt's mother, Anna, shares the real-life implications of distracted driving.
We received the shocking phone call on a Tuesday afternoon in the heart of a lovely summer – the call every parent fears – the call no parent or sibling is prepared for - the unexpected, unanticipated call to "come and come quickly."
The call where your husband and best friend on the other end of the phone whispers, "Merritt's been in an accident and we might loose her, Anna." That call.
Hours later the four of us scrambled to Memphis to sit vigil in a trauma center with our once vibrant daughter and sister, hours before her journey to the great Beyond.
Family members and dear friends stopped in an instant to get to Memphis to say good-bye to Merritt – not the going-off-to-college type of goodbye but the real goodbye. The goodbye that humbles. The goodbye that hurts. The goodbye, forever.
How Merritt's friends across the country and the world, from the Cape to California to France to Spain, held each other and prayed and wrote cards and writhed in pain.
In an instant, our collective lives went from the imperfectly perfect to the tragic.
We each quickly shifted gears in our own way from worrying about the trivial day-to-day to the new constant contemplation of the Universe and secret things no living being can ever understand since the beginning of time.
The fragility of life, the importance of love, the eternal connection we feel towards those we meet who matter, the obligation we have to be our best selves because life is fleeting, and we don't know when four seconds will change everything.
Four seconds of texting. Four seconds of distracted driving took Merritt. Four seconds made my beautiful family of five a weakened yet resilient and determined four.
Four seconds ended a life so precious the heavens surely cried.
Our lesson from this unfathomable, life-altering moment of losing Merritt is super simple: be present, especially and always behind-the-wheel. Pass it on. Don't text and drive. If you see someone texting behind-the-wheel, say something. Speak up.
Because four seconds matters. This month, and every month, we honor Merritt – her joy, her spirit, her humor, her brilliance, her kindness, her empathy and her ability to love – by committing to never driving distracted.
End distracted driving. Because Merritt was worth it. Because we are all worth it. Because four seconds matters so, so, so much.
To help us in the fight to end distracted driving, please consider supporting our mission here.