Apr 03, 2009 - ALEXA MIDDELAER STORY - YOUNG LIFE TAKEN


The Spring 2008 – For 4 ½ year-old Alexa, it was a perfect day. Sunny and warm, it was a day to spend doing things she loved to do. Who knows how the day started for the driver of the car, but how tragically it ended after the driver did something too many of us do from time to time – have a drink too many. For the Middelaer family, the day ended in a way very few of us can even imagine. They lost Alexa – forever. Laurel Middelaer is Alexa’s mother. The following is a copy of a presentation she made to the RCMP in October 2008.

I stand before you today, yes, as a grieving mother. There have been many grieving mothers before me, and sadly, unless there is a dramatic change, there will be many more in the future. But there is something that defines me more accurately than that. I am here as Alexa’s mom; I remain proud to be the only person who can claim to be the mother of this fabulous young lady.

I wish you knew Alexa, because being the mother of this incredibly spirited gal has truly changed me. You have seen her images, but I knew her character, and it spoke volumes to me, humbled me, and is the driving force of who I am today and who we are as a family. As an educator, I believe in the power of stories and mages, so I would like to relay an anecdote to you about Alexa so that you can know her character. In her 4 ½ years, she left an indelible mark and continues to influence those she has touched.

One day, I came into the garage, and I saw Alexa directing her daddy to remove the training wheels from her two-wheeled bike. At four years old, this was absurd! So I went into a maternal rant about broken bones, crushed spirits and the ridiculousness of this request at such a young age. Alexa listened to me with disdain in her eyes, and calmly said, “Daddy, take them off.” Like putty in her hand, he happily removed the wheels and off they went to the cul-de-sac.

Like a nervous mother, I watched first from the window, and as I saw the amazing progress, I quickly moved road-side where I watched in awe as she quickly mastered riding on two wheels. As she progressed from one quivery lap to the next, I began to cheer her on and tell her how proud I was of her. With a smile on her face, and a gleam in her eye, she boldly rode by me, her blond hair blowing behind her as she said three words to me that I will never forget: “You were wrong!”

Three weeks later, we rode the Vancouver seawall. That little 4 year old, blond-haired bullet soared around that seawall on her two-wheeled bike. People commented on her that day; she was notable, remarkable. I commented to her again, on how amazing she was and how proud I was of her. She smiled at me, and stated, “Do you remember that you were wrong?” Yes, dear soul. Mommy was wrong. My life lesson was learned. Let the naysayers beware. Never doubt a determined soul.

So here I am, a determined soul – a voice – yes, a motivated, determined voice. As an educator, I believe in seizing the teachable moment. I can’t help it: it is in the core of who I am. There is a story here, and I invite everyone to watch how it unfolds. As logical people, let’s have a look at this one.

From Westwold magazine

For Laurel Middelaer, it started out as the kind of day that makes a person feel glad to be alive: a warm sun shining light and hope down from a canopy of blue.

Spring was in the air, and Middelaer was getting into the spirit of things by potting new plants around the family pool in Ladner, where husband Michael and eightyear- old son Christian were having an early season splash-about. It was going to be a busy weekend. Michael’s sister Daphne was visiting from Vancouver and his parents had flown in from Calgary for an old-fashioned family get-together. The in-laws weren’t at the pool though. Laurel’s four-year-old daughter Alexa had insisted on taking them for a drive to visit a favoured equine neighbour she had begun calling Horsey Love.

“They were going to a tack shop to buy special horse treats before stopping at the farm on the way home,” Middelaer explains.

But the calm of the day was soon shattered by the sound of sirens. Hearing the emergency vehicles racing to a scene just a few blocks away, Laurel and Christian decided to investigate, and were just getting ready to leave when husband Michael announced that someone was trying to contact him on his cellphone. He called the number back, and was told his family had been involved in a collision. “Right away I knew it was Alexa,” Laurel recalls.

Thus began a nightmarish journey for the Middelaer family that in many ways will never end. They drove to the scene of the accident, where police informed them that a car piloted by a 56-year-old woman (subsequently charged with impaired driving causing death) had spun out of control, striking the vehicle Michael’s parents were in and injuring them both. The car had then careened into Alexa and her Aunt Daphne, who had been standing by the paddock fence feeding the horse. The animal was the final victim, suffering injuries to both its hind and front legs. Strewn about the field were its “treats” and the little purple basket Alexa had carried them in.

The scene around the family was pure pandemonium as emergency personnel rushed about and helicopters thundered in to whisk away the injured. “I just ran and said, ‘I’m the mother, I’m the mother’ and everybody parted to let me through,” Laurel recalls. But so grievous were Alexa’s injuries – a large portion of one leg had been torn off – that emergency personnel at first attempted to shield her from her daughter with a blanket.

“I remember saying, ‘I’m fine, just let me touch my daughter.’ But I was only able to touch her ankle. I saw her face though and that was what was so hard, because it just looked like she was sleeping. She looked perfect.”

But Alexa was already dead.

According to the doctors who later examined her body, Alexa’s life ended more or less instantly when the car struck her – bluntforce trauma they called it. Though with the support of emergency personnel and several good Samaritans at the scene, Alexa was “kept alive” long enough for the family to donate her precious organs to children in Canada needing transplants. But the Middelaers would never see their bright, vivacious daughter alive again, as, along with their son and extended family, they descended into a world of grief, one where not a day passes that they do not think about their loss.

“People think grief is just a lot of crying, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s raw and gritty. There’s a lot of anger and, at times, I find myself pulling away from people because it gets to be too much.”

Yet in an effort to maintain some form of normalcy for herself and her family, Laurel returned to her job at Southridge School as principal of the junior division and struggled to come to terms with the tragedy. Almost a year later, the struggle has not gotten any easier.

“I believe in God, but quite frankly I don’t know how to pray right now,” she says. “I would never say, ‘Why did you do this to me?’ because I don’t believe in a God that would do that to a family. But everything I thought I believed in has been yanked from underneath me. What I do know, though, is that the actions of another individual have had dire consequences for my family.”



Let me tell you, what we saw that day, that horrible day, was no accident. Quite simply, it was a consequence, and a highly predictable consequence, of poor choices and negligent behaviour. Those choices, those deliberately made choices, ended my daughter’s life. And while I cannot control the actions and choices of others, I can control my own response. And I can choose to use my response and influence for good.

I am not OK with what happened to Alexa. It is not acceptable – not to us, not to our community, not to anyone. You know, as Canadians, we live in a land of literate, common sense people who have a fierce sense of right and wrong. We have a history of doing what is right; but I do not understand this tolerance that we have for behaviour that is so contrary to our safety. We have all heard the message about drinking and driving. We are aware, we are informed. Yet, many of us still may drink and drive, or we tolerate others who do.

In the spirit of my daughter, Alexa, I offer two words: NO MORE…. No MORE…enough. Enough of tolerating poor behaviour; no more of this lax acceptance of the status quo. It is time to draw the line. Some may feel that responsibility for deterrence and enforcement belongs to our police forces, judiciary and politicians. Yes, you are partially correct. We, as a family, have become unwilling participants in the criminal justice system and have had a front row seat. And yes, change does need to be made there. (We are working on it!)

But there is an equally powerful force at play here and that is the voice and power of the silent majority, those who find this behaviour unacceptable. It is time to flex that muscle, and create a shift in social pressure. Let there be social disdain for those who drink and drive. Let it become a social taboo. Let it not even be a consideration for fear of social pressure. Those who decide to drive after drinking – God forbid. Why would you do it? That is the kind of response I want. NO MORE. We, as a society, as British Columbians, deserve better. NO MORE.

Despite what has happened to Alexa, to our family, we still believe in the goodness of people. We are not bitter. We are raw and broken, angry at times, but not bitter. And that, dear friends, is a choice! We have seen such an amazing outpouring of support for our family; the police and RCMP have been very supportive and respectful and we have had respect and courtesy shown to us by the media (thank you). Quite simply, this tragedy has galvanized our community. Everyone who hears Alexa’s story is touched, is emotionally connected.

That is why we are asking those of you who are touched by this story, to change your social attitude towards drinking and driving. Let the image of Alexa remind you of these two words: NO MORE. We have had enough; enough tolerance, enough of the lives that are forever altered. It is time to raise the bar. When you’re on the golf course, when you have a drink after work, when you have gatherings for the upcoming holiday season, when you celebrate a special moment, choose to be responsible. Because if you are not, the silent majority will start to speak and use their strong, unified and powerful voice.

We have decided to form a coalition of likeminded people to make these changes. In cooperation with the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation, we are choosing to make a difference. If you would like to lend your voice of support, please contact the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation and let your voice be heard. Let the silent majority speak. Let our life lesson be learned. Let the naysayers beware. Never doubt a determined soul. We can change – and we should change – to honour Alexa and to demand the best and safest for BC.

Two words: NO MORE

 

Source: MWPR.ca


 

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