Happy birthday Christopher William Dunham Clark.
You would be 34 today. I wish I could know who you would be today. With the heart you had I know you'd be someone special. A husband, a father, and a pilot, most likely. It's what you wanted to do. I'd be so proud of you. I'm proud of you anyway. But I didn't get the chance to watch you become a man.
I miss you every day. Even after 16 years there is still not a day that goes by that I don't think of you. You have two nieces now. Knowing the way you were with kids I know you'd love them as they would love you.
I think about the kids you might have had and I can't help but be saddened that it never happened.
For those who may not know, my son was killed in a car accident when he was 17. Please don't feel sorry for me – I've moved on, as difficult as it was. The reason I mention it every year is to draw attention to the importance of seat belts. Christopher died because he was not wearing one and he was ejected from the vehicle. The other two kids in the car walked away with minor injuries.
Kids think they're invincible. They're not. Those of us who have lost children understand that better than most.
Talk to your kids. Make sure they drive safely, wear their seatbelts and don't text and drive. Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 20. At least 12% of those accidents are caused by distracted driving. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as many as 39% of teenagers admit to texting and driving. They are accidents waiting to happen.
My other point for posting this is a reminder to all of you to tell your kids you love them as often as you can. Let them know how you feel – even if it embarrasses them. You just never know when you may not get another opportunity.