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  • Writer's pictureAthanasia Houvarda

I had a choice but I had no voice

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

August 5, 2001.

-"Why don't you just let go and forget?"

For me, the answer is simple. I can never let go because every time I see my reflection in the mirror, I am reminded of that day that changed my life forever.

But on days when I feel as if everything is going wrong when I am struggling, and when I forget the fight I gave to be where I am today, I need that reminder. When I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I am reminded of what I lost. It's not my beauty that I lost; it's not my healthy skin; it's not the full range of movements in my hands; it's not even years of my youth.

I lost my friends.

And I don't want them to be forgotten.

This is why I allow myself to be reminded, which is why I remind other people of the results of unsafe driving. I don't want anyone to lose someone they love to a preventable accident.

I often wonder if what I am feeling is survivor's guilt. And maybe it is!

I had a sense of deep guilt for surviving our horrific accident. The man behind the wheel was an aggressive driver. I could see the signs but I couldn't recognize them. I trusted him like I trusted every other driver behind a steering wheel. I never questioned my safety. Even on that day, seeing his aggressive behavior, tailgating, and overtaking other vehicles, I only spoke once. I asked him to slow down, but I didn't demand it. I know I was wrong to trust him, and the results of our accident and my mirror reflection prove how wrong I was.

I had a choice that day, but I had no voice to demand my safety.

To this day, I am grieving and still mourning for the loss of my friends, but I try to do it in a meaningful way. Raising road safety awareness is a meaningful way to honor their memory and possibly impact the lives of others positively.

Recognize the signs of unsafe driving and demand your safety before it is too late.

We have a choice, and we have a voice!

My latest project to raise awareness of the importance of road safety is a podcast called Crash Victim Life Survivor. The last episode of season one went live two days before my 20th road accident anniversary. It has been an interesting ride so far. I learned a lot through the stories that my guests shared with me. I am looking forward to launching season two in the future.

In memory of my dear friends Sotiri and Effie.

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