It was cold and windy as Cepeda and I walked home. We had a great night out drinking, signing karaoke, shooting pool, and it was time to head home. Why were we walking? Simply put, we didnt want to wait an hour or two for a cab, when we could walk home and be there in a third of the time. The road was dark, had little to no traffic, and we almost had to yell to hear each other as we walked. Suddenly, the sound of a baseball bat hitting the hood of a car and of breaking glass erupted from my left side. Instead of my friend, I saw empty space. I found Cepeda about two hundred feet further down, laying on the side of the road, and once the ambulance arrived, declared dead on the scene. Hit by a drunk driver, who drove away after hitting her, missing me by barely a foot. Grief can change people; break them or give them purpose. I chose purpose.

I have always believed things happen for a reason. However, in the days following the accident, I couldn’t find any solace in that thought. Most days, I would come home from work and sit in Cepeda’s room, wallowing in the loss of my closest friend.Other days, I would drink myself to sleep, trying to escape the pain. It wasn’t just the fact I had lost my friend, it was the fact that I wished I was the one hit instead. I know now that a large portion of what I was experiencing is called Survivor’s Guilt, but labeling that kind of pain does not alleviate it. All that changed when I was approached by my command to write a speech for a memorial ceremony they were planning. I began to pull my way out of the depths of grief that I had allowed to swallow me. As I wrote that speech, I began to realize that Cepeda wasn’t the only person to die due to drinking and driving, and wouldn’t be the last. What could I help to change that?

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Most people don’t have a set plan when they go out for a night on the town. Although, it might be better to say that they have no plan beyond going out, and getting a cab h…

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