Dear Adam

I’m going to share one of my biggest secrets with you.

The last words I said to my brother before he died were “If you drive like that, you’re going to get yourself killed.” It was July 3, 2010. We were driving home from meeting a friend’s new baby. Adam begged me to let him drive. Pulled the “be a cool big sister” card. He was about to get his license and I kind of wanted to see him drive.

He took a turn too fast. He checked his cell phone. I had to yell at him to put on his seat belt. I yelled at him. And as we turned from Homer Street onto Cedar Street I said “If you drive like that, you’re going to get yourself killed.”

Less than 2 months later, one year ago today, Adam died in a car accident.

It was a rainy night. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. He was speeding. He took a turn too fast. He hit a tree. His car flipped. And like that, in an instant, Adam was gone.

I don’t regret saying that to him. I do regret phrasing it that way. Of course I wish I’d said something else to him after that. I know we talked on the phone after that day. Still, I wish in that car ride I’d told him I loved him, that I was upset because I loved him. That it came from a place of caring. I’m actually glad I said it and didn’t just think it. I can’t imagine how awful I’d feel and much I’d regret not telling him to drive more carefully.

I do hate how prophetic those words were. I hate having that memory.

The truth is that I wish I’d said it louder. I wish I’d yelled more. I wish I’d made him pull over and give me the keys. I wish I’d insisted my parents ground him. I wish that I had said something, done something, anything, that would have made him understand just how dangerous cars were.

Maybe then he would have worn his seatbelt. He might have driven a little bit slower. Maybe he would have noticed the rain and decided to drive slower. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a conscious thought at all, just a tendency to drive a little more carefully. But I didn’t shout it loud enough then. And he didn’t drive slower, or more carefully, or with a seatbelt on.

So today, if only for today, I want to shout it. I know it wont bring Adam back. I know it wont make my pain any less. In fact, it hurts to talk about it. I can only hope that it will save one other family, one other community from the pain we have experienced. If thats all it does, saves one other life, then shouting it will be worth it.

Here it is, my plea that you drive with more awareness, that you share this with others so this message can reach as far as possible.

In the weeks after Adam’s accident, my family, with the help of of some amazing friends, started an organization called A Promise to Adam.

I’m asking that you go to our website and sign our pledge. Its really simple. Its six of the easiest things you can possibly do.

Here is what I’m asking you to sign and then do:

I promise:

1. Never to ride in a car without a seatbelt.

2. Never to drive too fast, because where I’m going will be there, whether I’m five minutes early or 50 minutes late.

3. Never to drive after drinking, even the smallest amount, because I cannot understand how impaired I may be.

4. Never to drive after putting anything in my body that may limit my ability to think, understand and react.

5. Never to text while I drive, because the message is never more important than my life.

6. And, perhaps hardest of all, to stop my friends when they try to do any of the above. Take away their keys; call their parents; call a cab; wrestle them to the ground, if necessary. Whatever it takes.

THESE THINGS I PROMISE YOU, ADAM.

ADAM MICHAEL SPIVAK LONDON.

Just fill out the promise here.

And if you’re a parent, make this additional promise.

It doesn’t cost money. It doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to sign the pledge. It doesn’t take much time at all follow the pledge. A few seconds each time you’re in the car.

So that’s it. I’m asking that you help me honor my brother and my last memory of him. Sign the pledge. Tell your friends about it.

It wont give me a chance to watch my brother go off to college or to have one more family photo. I understand that.

But it might give you a chance to watch your child or brother or friend go to college. It might give you cause to take and cherish that next family photo.

Thank you.

Oh, and Adam,

I’m so sorry I said it that way.

Words will never fully be able to express how much I miss you. I could write a book and it would never capture exactly how this feels. There are only three words that can even begin to explain what I feel: I love you. In all the simplicity of those words, I hope you can still feel the sincerity and the weight I say them with.

On the days when the world seems to have stopped, I think of how much you loved life and how much energy you brought into this world. I try to use just a little bit of that to get out of bed, to put one foot in front of the other, to take the next breath. And the nights when I can’t sleep, I beg you to visit me in my dreams. To give me one more opportunity to feel your hugs or watch you roll your eyes when I ask for one, even if I know it’ll all be gone when I open my eyes. When ever I make a wish, I wish one of two things. For the health and safety of all those I know and love, so that I never have to experience this pain again. Or, when I need something for me, I ask for a dream that feels so real that I believe you’re really there.

I hope you and Abe have one epic game of monopoly going on right now. I love you both.

With all the love a sister can have,

Katie

Lizzy, me, Eric and Adam, Eric’s Graduation from College, 2007

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2 responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this Kate. I lost my brother when he was young – but of cancer – so I know how it feels to be missing a piece of your soul. And I’m sorry that we share that. The other day I was driving with my son in Los Angeles. My son is 17 and has a permit and thinks he knows how to drive. Since we live in NY, he doesn’t get a lot of practice, but he is a pretty good driver. But he was being reckless and I yelled at him. My mom was in the backseat and she yelled at him. There was a lot of yelling. I made him pull the car over and let me drive. But I don’t think even that will be enough to make him understand. So I’m going to share your story with him. Thank you for writing it. I’m sorry that you had to.

    • Thank you Jamie. My family has said from the start that if this saves one life or prevents one accident, every effort will be worth it. We may never know what accidents and deaths were avoided but it certainly helps to know that the effort is affecting others. I hope you are able to have a positive conversation with your son about the responsibility that comes with driving. I live in New York as well and know that New Yorkers who don’t drive frequently often forget about the dangers of driving. (And forget to buckle up in cabs.) I look forward to reading your son’s pledge.

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