Mom's Photo of Her Children Is a Heartwrenching Reminder of the Cost of Drunk Driving

Jennifer Neville Lake

Some things are unimaginable. This photo captures one such unimaginable moment -- a moment when a mother's life as she knew it ended forever. That mom, Jennifer Neville-Lake, lost all three of her children, as well as their grandfather, when a drunk driver plowed into their minivan. And now she's sharing this image in the hopes that it might save another mother from experiencing the same kind of unimaginable, yet all too real, loss.

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Those precious little hands in the photo are the hands of Harry, age 5, and Milly, age 2. The children are in a hospital bed, just before their parents had to turn off both life-support machines. Their 9-year-old brother Daniel also lost his life in the brutal crash, along with their grandfather.

Jennifer shared that photo with the press when she made a heartbreaking statement this week after the sentencing of Marco Muzzo, the man who caused the accident, and her loss. Marco received 10 years, but Jennifer and her husband's sentence, of course, is life.

I know about grief. And I know about loss. I spent two years in a fog of sorrow and brokenness and guilt after my younger sister committed suicide. I'll never be the same.

And yet ...

It's still nearly impossible for me to imagine the kind of loss that Jennifer and her husband have endured.

More from The Stir: Heartbroken Mom Confronts the Drunk Driver Who Left Her Son Nearly Brain Dead (VIDEO)

But -- that's the thing. We have to. To the best of our abilities, we have to imagine. Every time we think about having one more glass of wine at a party before we head home. Every time we wonder if we should say something when a friend is heading to the door, keys in hand, late at night.

Every time.

Because in sharing this incredibly intimate photo, Jennifer is reaching out beyond herself, out of her grief and her unimaginable, unfathomable, unbearable loss, to try to keep this from happening to another family.

"People learn from images," she said after the sentencing. "That's how we teach our children."

I am almost not able to look at this photo, at those sweet little wrists, and those little fingers. But I'm making myself, and I'm sharing it with you, and I hope you'll share it too. For Jennifer, and for her husband. For her babies and for their grandpa. And for everyone who has ever lost someone to drunk driving.

And even for Marco -- a man who I'm sure would do anything to turn back time and undo the horrible choice he made.

"We were there with them when they were born, and we were there with them when they died," Jennifer shared. This photo captures that moment, and it's a photo I'll never forget.

 

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