By: Delia Foster
On Father’s Day, June 19, 2016, my beautiful 24-year-old daughter, Rachel Coleen Foster, was driven by a neighbor to the Palmetto Expressway to rescue her boyfriend, who had run out of gas. They had a 19-day old baby, who stayed home in the care of his mother. When Rachel got to the stranded vehicle, she started pouring gas into the tank when an impaired driver struck her from behind and instantly took her life. I was notified a few hours later and my life changed forever.
For the first three years, as we grieved and tried to learn how to function in our broken, incomplete world, we were constantly reminded by the criminal justice system of our pain and suffering. Every couple of months, our focus turned exclusively into the court hearing, reliving the horrific nightmare and having to listen to the ridiculous excuses.
Finally, the man who killed my creative, spontaneous, and very caring daughter was taken to state prison. Now, my family and I are left to serve a life sentence of longing, regret and pain. I cannot make it through a single day, not even an hour of a day without feeling the sharp sting of losing our youngest child, my baby.
Rachel grew up loving the performing arts, especially dance. She adored her family and friends. She also had a soft spot in her heart for animals and mostly for kids, they made her very happy and complete.
Rachel was excited about her career, teaching young children. But without comparison, her baby girl, Savi Mia was the light of her life. Rachel anticipated motherhood with so much joy and excitement throughout her pregnancy. She was instantly overwhelmed with love for little Savi Mia, beyond what she had imagined, the moment she held her in her arms. Rachel’s last days were fully devoted with happiness to nurturing and welcoming her baby girl.
Since Rachel was killed, every day is now a struggle for us to find joy and gratitude on the little things in life. But the holidays are a time where the knife in my heart feels even deeper. It is beyond what I can describe, feelings of sadness and desperation that come out of nowhere, in what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Much of the rage I experience comes from the knowledge that this tragedy was 100 percent preventable.
For the rest of my life, I will take whatever opportunity I can to urge the public not to drink and drive. I will volunteer to educate and even beg people to make a plan, call a ride sharing service, designate a sober driver, or take public transportation instead of putting another family through what mine has suffered.
When your holiday plans include alcohol, go the extra step and plan for a safe ride home. If you are hosting, urge your guests to have a plan as well. We need to be a community with concern for each other and for the innocent.