A Young Girl's Bad Decision

Author: Mary Beth Bonacci

A Young Girl's Bad Decision

By Mary Beth Bonacci

I just got back from a funeral. Her name was Katie. She was 14 years old. Her mom is my friend.

Katie had just graduated from 8th grade. She was going to high school in the fall. She was excited.

Then, last Tuesday night, one of her friends talked her into sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to go out with her and two guys they knew. One of the guys had "borrowed" his parents' car. None of them were old enough to drive legally.

Now Katie is dead. She died on impact when the car flipped into the irrigation ditch next to the dirt road they were traveling down too fast. There were no other cars involved. - no drunk drivers, no hit and run. Just one car going too fast. Katie's friend is in serious condition, and at this point they're not sure she'll survive. The guys are fine physically, but their friend is dead and another may die , all because of their actions. At least one of them is looking at possible manslaughter charges.

I promise not to turn this into a "listen to your parents and don't sneak out of the house and do stupid things" column. Although I think that message does deserve at least a paragraph. For God's sake, and mine, don't do stupid or dangerous things. Don't sneak out in the middle of the night. Don't get into a car with someone who doesn't drive safely.

End of that lecture.

My message, however, is similar. Katie's tragic death serves to remind all of us that actions have consequences. It's easy, especially when you're young, to believe that you can do whatever you want, and tomorrow will still be there, and it will still be the same wonderful, bright future that everyone tells you about. But that isn't necessarily the case.

Katie wasn't a "bad girl". She wasn't a wild girl out looking for trouble. By all accounts, she was a very sweet, affectionate girl who loved God, her family and her friends. And what she did doesn't seem particularly horrible. She didn't run away and hitchhike to Utah. She didn't get drunk or stoned. She sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night. Adults sometimes like to joke about things like that in our past. We look back fondly at "sowing our wild oats", and we marvel that we survived it all.

Well, Katie didn't. All because of one out-of-character decision to be a little wild one night.

Imagine all of the people that decision has impacted. Imagine her parents, who thought she was safely asleep in the next room until the phone rang and the police showed up at the door with a photo of a body at the morgue. Imagine her brother who has lost the one person near his age who had been with him nearly his entire life.

Imagine all of her friends. The funeral was full of junior high kids , kids who are experiencing death in their ranks far too soon. Imagine these two guys, whose decisions that night have altered the course of their lives forever. Imagine their parents. Imagine her friend who hovers between life and death. Imagine parents.

God didn't "want" Katie to die. He didn't "will" her death. Of course, Katie loved God, and we confidently hope and pray that He take her to Him, to a life which never ends. But it happened now, the way it did, because four "basically good" teenagers made a decision. One decision.

Don't think your life now doesn't affect your future , it does. Take decision-making seriously. I know, especially if you're a teen, decisions are hard to make. You can't see into the future. You don't know what the results of our decisions will be. You sometimes don't know how to decide.

God knows decisions are tough. That's why He gave you parents. They've been around longer. They understand cause and effect better. They've figured out, probably from personal experience, that "it can't happen to me" is a fallacy.

Please listen to them. And make decisions wisely. The life you save may be your own.

Bonacci is the author of the recent book (Ignatius Press).

This article appeared in the June 20, 1996 issue of "The Arlington Catholic Herald."

Courtesy of the "Arlington Catholic Herald" diocesan newspaper of the Arlington (VA) diocese. For subscription information, call 1-800-377- 0511 or write 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 607 Arlington, VA 22203.

Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN