September 16, 2005

Blogging For Cody, The Fifth And Final Day

I would first like to thank those of you who have been faithfully coming by. The links and trackbacks mean so much to me and I look forward to returning to my usual bitching and humor. That will probably come back later on in the day, I have much to complain about.

In the days following the accident we learned much about the other boys. All of them had the same characteristics. They were all athletic, religious, intelligent, loving, giving and thoughtful. We heard many stories of volunteer work they performed and that they each were the kind of person who always thought of others first. My heart ached knowing that these eight fine, young men were removed from this planet and that the one who killed them, the one with a reputation for binge drinking, was still alive.

Cody's funeral was beautiful, there were over 600 people there. So many people were there that some had to stand outside. There were microphones set up around the church for everyone to tell their Cody stories. I found out that day that his family wasn't the only one who thought he was the greatest person in the world. The service lasted about twice as long as it should have and the processional to the cemetery was far too long. Colorado has made a law now that there can be no more than 25 cars in a funeral procession and I swear it must have come about because of Cody. LOL! When we arrived at the cemetery, the groundskeepers were impatient having been expecting us much earlier and it would soon be time for them to get off of work. I remember feeling as if they were vulture-like; waiting for all of us to leave so they could finish off what was left of Cody.


cody12.jpg

On the 25th the University of Wyoming held a memorial service for the boys. Our families were seated on the floor of their indoor arena and there were MANY students in the seats. We listened to Governor Jim Geringer, miscellaneous UW staff and the UW President Dr. Philip Dubois attempt to honor the boys. Many on the athletics staff did just that, but the governor, a man partially responsible for Wyoming law, I could not respect; and even worse was Dr. Dubois. UW was just coming out of the Matthew Shepard murder and had been desperately attempting to convey to the nation that they were not homophobes. Dr. Dubois took an opportunity to again stress that, stress it while there was media present, stress it when all of the families seated on that floor didn't give a flying fuck about Matthew Shepard that day. He spoke of how UW has changed and that they would not stand for sexual identity discrimination. Yet UW, claiming they came out of the dark ages, promotes alcoholism.

In the coming months we learned about several incidents of the university not acting upon drinking, and in some cases actually providing the alcohol to it's students. After the memorial service the families were invited to Dr. Dubois' home. There was food for all of us, but most disturbing, there was an open bar provided for us. An open bar with the liquor for it being removed from vans that said 'UW' on the side. All of the families just stood there and looked at the bar and thought "How could they do that? How?"

In the months following, my sister, and many of the other parents fought with the university to expel Clint. They were repeatedly told that they had no grounds to do it under. When at the same time in the media, we heard of a student expelled from Baylor for setting a cat on fire. Clint was a member of the rodeo team at UW and this accident divided the school. It became the athletic department against everyone else. Sides were chosen and eventually Cody's coach lost his job.

Wyoming's problems not only lie within its lack of drunk driving laws, but with their judiciary as well. Clint Haskins was found guilty but was only sentenced for 7 to 14 years with early release for good behavior. As it stands today, he will most likely be serving only 3 1/2 years to 4 years. He wasn't sentenced until May of 2002 and was allowed to finish college.

Since then I have seen two different people on two different occasions, wearing t-shirts that said the following:

"My drinking team has a rodeo problem"

It took everything I had not to confront those individuals. Binge drinking is a problem in many different groups, but is massive within the rodeo crowd. I had always enjoyed going to rodeos, and especially the National Western Stock Show. Since 2001 I have been unable to go and I hold much bitterness for that crowd.

There are changes that need to occur in this country. The federal and state governments need to recognize the seriousness of drunk driving and follow the examples set by other countries. Europe as a whole consumes twice the amount of alcohol the United States does, yet has virtually no drunk driving incidents. It's a combination of large public transportation systems and tough laws.

Once again, in the United States alone; 17,000 people are killed every year because of drunk driving. An additional 500,000 are injured because of drunk driving. I have received e-mails throughout the week with people saying, yes, I know someone affected by drunk driving. Who will it be next time? Will it be a friend, a co-worker, a spouse? Or will it be, God forbid, your own child?

I see no issue with enjoying an alcoholic drink. But when your problem is so large that you over drink and then chose to get behind the wheel; you should be shot. What is the difference between a drunk climbing behind the wheel and a person randomly firing a gun into a crowd? Nothing, both have the ability to be fatal to someone.

Hug someone you love, for you may never be able to do it again after today. And if you know someone who has a drinking problem, confront them. Their problem extends far beyond themselves, it has the potential to kill the innocent and destroy the family that has been left behind.

Dear Lord:

Please be with the families today as we remember, as we grieve, and as we ask that people understand the importance of this epidemic.

Amen


Cody B. Brown
Hudson, Colorado
June 30, 1980 - September 16, 2001

Kyle N. Johnson
Riverton, Wyoming
July 15, 1981 - September 16, 2001

Joshua D. Jones
Salem, Oregon
July 10, 1979 - September 16, 2001

Justin M. Lambert-Belanger
Timmins, Ontario
June 6, 1981 - September 16, 2001

Morgan J. McLeland
Gillette, Wyoming
February 1, 1980 - September 16, 2001

Kevin L. Salverson
Cheyenne, Wyoming
November 25, 1981 - September 16, 2001

Nicholas J. Schabron
Laramie, Wyoming
July 6, 1981 - September 16, 2001

Shane E. Shatto
Douglas, Wyoming
September 30, 1981 - September 16, 2001

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Posted by Stacy at September 16, 2005 12:43 PM | TrackBack
Comments

You did it. You made it all the way.

Stacy I am glad to see that you deal with your grief. The one thing you canít do with your grief is ignore it. Times like these put our faith to the test. We have to deal with the imperfect folks around us. We donít always do that well. So, cut yourself a break. There is nothing wrong with telling off somebody who thinks alcohol abuse is funny.

The way you honor Cody is commendable. You have eulogized him to us in a fantastic way. Just remember that it is not over. Cody lives on, just somewhere else. He does more important things now. He also cheers on you and yours.

Iím proud of you for what you do.

Posted by: bigwhitehat at September 16, 2005 08:18 PM

Bless you for sharing his life with us this week. I know what you mean about the love coming out after someone dies. My brother in law died this year and I read the eulogy. As I wrote it, I discovered so much about him that I hadn't taken the time to notice before. I decided to write about my nephew a few weeks ago, so he would know how precious he is to me, and I plan to do that for others as well, when they are laid on my heart, and before they are gone.

Posted by: Darlene at September 16, 2005 09:02 PM

Thank you, Stacy, for allowing us to come into your heart and into your grief, and for letting us get to know Cody through your eyes. I wish I could reach through cyberspace and give you a big hug right now, but I can't, so instead just know that you've touched my heart in a profound and poignant way. Lots of love and prayers to you and your family -

Posted by: Valerie at September 16, 2005 09:14 PM

Thanks.

Posted by: Jeff H at September 16, 2005 11:13 PM

My heart goes out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your grief and reminding us all how precious life is, and how quickly things can change.

Posted by: Louise at September 18, 2005 09:08 PM

First of all I would like to tell you how sorry I am that you lost your nephew in this accident. I can't fathem what your family has had to go though, but on the other hand UW is a great school and Wyoming is a great state so if you hate their laws so bad why dont you get the hell out because I hate to tell you but your not going to change the world over night. Also Clint Haskins is on of the best hearted simpathitic kids the you will ever see though out your life time. So mabey instead of saying only bad and negitive things about him you should look at the bright side of things, like how he is tring to help others to not make the same mistakes that he did.I am willing to bet that Cody would have found it in his heart to not necessarily forgive Clint but to not hate him either. So mabey you try do what you think Cody would want you to do FOR ONCE!!!

Posted by: Shaylie at October 29, 2005 11:22 AM

Shaylie, dear, go fuck yourself. Your limited knowledge of all things Wyoming and Clint Haskins is showing. As far as I'm concerned Clint Haskins is scum of the earth; period. Unfortunately there are many like him out there. Wyoming does indeed have very little legislation regarding drinking and driving. So, you look the fool Shaylie.

And dearest, I'm not Cody. I'm a pissed off aunt seeking to change how people think. I am doing exactly as Cody would want; you didn't know him; I did.

Now, if I were pond scum, I'd wish this expericence upon you so you could truly understand. The only ones that do understand are those who have experienced it. Your opinion is irrevelent.

Posted by: Stacy at October 30, 2005 01:16 PM

I am sorry for your loss. I am discouraged about UW's reaction to it and the senseless drinking that has been allowed there. I hope that my words do not hurt you any further. I buried a sister who was the world to me. On the ninth anniversy of her death I prayed for her spirit to show through to me and I met Clint Haskins. I interviewed him for a newspaper story along with other inmates from WY State Pen. I can only tell you that while his pain is not your pain - it still exists. I was angry and incredibly hurt when my sister passed, because her death was influenced by alcohol. I have found that my anger was a shield against the enormous amount of pain I could not allow myself to feel at the time. I wish you recovery and healing and the ability to let go. In its original meaning - the word forgive meant to untie - it is the anger we feel that carries us to the bottom, releasing it isn't about letting the other person free, it is about saving yourself.

Posted by: Jessica at November 17, 2005 11:05 PM