Features Dec 16, 2015 at 4:00 am

The 10th anniversary of my parents' death brings up many emotions. Hate isn't one of them.

When I think about all that has happened in the last 10 years, the idea of spending that long in prison gives me a sense of vertigo. The Stranger


Beautiful and heart-wrenching. I don't often use this word, but "amen".
Lord, this made me feel. Thank you.
To be so acutely in touch with such deep and raw sentiment. Like examining you own nerve fibres. Atonement.
The damage done by one individual can spiral through generations. My grandfather killer himself and and entirely innocent family one Christmas Eve. It destroyed his daughters, his sons and continues to wreck havoc with his grandchildren. I didn't even know how this Navy doc was killed until I was 22. There are times I want to look up the survivors and tell them the price we all have paid for his addition, his choice to get behind the wheel more than a half a century ago, destroyed two families.
I am so, so sorry your parents were taken away from you. I wish you love and support. I hope you find big love that can help fill the ravine.thank you for writing this.
Would you be sending him a *holiday* card if hadn't made a mistake, but had instead intentionally hit them to pre-meditatively murder them?
Jesus, this was powerful.
If he had internationally done this, @5, it would be an entirely different conversation. Read the article.
@5: You are consistently crap at reading the articles upon which you comment seatownr.
She said, and I quote:
"My feelings would be different if Daniel Jay had say, walked into my parents' family therapy practice and gunned them down in cold blood."
Do try to keep up.
@8, that doesn't answer my question as to whether a *holiday* card would be sent, does it? How different would her feelings be? Please, speak for her - as is your want.
@9: How, pray tell, is quoting the author directly speaking for her?
If you can't be bothered to read the article you have no one to blame but yourself if you look the fool. And it's a pity because it was a beautiful and thoughtful piece of writing.
Outstanding piece of writing; thanks.

seatownr: Jesus Christ, STFO. What's wrong with you?
A powerful piece about profits and puritanism. I hope she does send that card. She's a lovely beautiful person who I'm sure her parents are very proud of.
It's "as is your WONT" or more properly "as you are wont to do," but seriously, folks, seadowner must be a gag and a goof trynna be funny, and failing.
Please send this to him.
Send him the card, because it will be good for you. If it's good for him as well, then that's a Christmas bonus.

Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for not harboring hate.
i'll echo the many comments here, but this is a stunning and extremely touching piece of writing. thank you for sharing, and so sorry for your loss.
i like that this essay has many threads and not just one central idea flogged to death. good for you, emily. as someone told me when i lost my parents prematurely, "your relationship with them will continue to grow." also, i owe you a beer.
I think the intent of the article is about forgiveness in the heart. That is understandable and important for victims of such horrific tragedy. But there is some missing context. The author wrote that Daniel was a repeat offender. Does that mean he already got a shot at treatment? It's a bit unclear. How many previous chances did he get? Will treatment alone prevent him or others from doing it again? I think the Christmas card is fine. Without knowing the answers to these questions one has to wonder what should be done with him and others like him now. I'd say every case is different. Similar tragedies have happened in a very transit/bike friendly City of Seattle by repeat offenders who have failed treatment. Will treatment ever work? What's the incentive not to do it again without jail time. And most importantly how do we prevent it from happening again across society? Under every scenario, there is NEVER a good excuse for drinking and driving as I know the author would agree. Let's make that very clear. It can cause horrific tragedy. It is unwise and unethical knowingly putting others in danger, and it is a crime for a reason whether it's Texas or Portland. This comment is posted only out of love for the community and the author.
So steeped in our culture of fear-mongering and knee-jerk blaming, I start my meeting with the world each day bracing for more of the same. What an unexpected gift, instead, this chance encounter with an authentic contemplation. A deeper probe into evil's complex etiologies, in which no snap judgements are made on culpability. It is always complicated and we are all implicated somewhere along the line of causation. And we, most all of us grieving some unsustainable loss, still have to learn how to look for that. This was something entirely different this morning. It was the kind of read that can be experienced as a personal gift. And was. Thank you.
While Ms. Pothast has every right to feel forgiveness towards the man who killed her parents, I strongly disagree with her reasoning. There is no way of knowing if the driver was denied access, or lacked access to alcohol treatment. In fact, if he was previously convicted of drunk driving, he was probably at one point ordered to undergo treatment. The problem is that more often than not, treatment doesn't take and the drinking continues. Drunk driving is not a "mistake" and most of us, even those who drink too much at times, plan around having to drive after consuming alcohol. It is simply recklessness with a disregard for others safety. To say this could happen to anyone of us is wrong. We may not be able to prevent becoming a victim but we all can ensure that we don't get behind the wheel after drinking. One thing is for certain. As long as this offender is in jail, he cannot hurt anyone else. If Ms. Pothast wants to excuse this guys behavior I respect her right to her opinion. But this kind of reasoning is why people are still dying on our roadways at such high numbers. Everyone loves to compare Canada's social policies to those in the U.S., except when it come to drunk driving. Canada, along with most Western European Countries, treat drunk driving far more seriously than we do. As a result, they experience lower alcohol related driving deaths. When we get serious, the death rates will fall. Alcoholism is a medical issue. Drunk driving is criminal behavior.
My heartfelt condolences for you and your sister's loss.
Apparently @5 thinks his question (a) can/should be answered only by the author, and (b) is worthy of such an answer. So everybody else just bug off, okay?
I did not feel the same way as other readers. I have not been personally affected by drunk driving, but I despise those who excuse it. The "justice" which has been done is preventing this man from driving again. Not locking him up was insufficient, and the man continued to behave in a way which endangered other people, and ended up killing your parents. This man should be locked up. More DUIs should result in jail time, and driving after drinking should be far more stigmatised and taboo than it is now. I actually had an argument with someone a year ago who said that drinking and driving was fine and normal. Some crimes should be decriminalized, while others don't get punished enough. DUIs are in the latter category.
"Car culture killed my parents just as much as any one person's choices did."

This is fucking bullshit. Unless your parents weaved into his lane and forced an error that was only exacerbated by alcoholism, the responsibility is Jay's alone.

You are correct that it isn't about hating Jay. It is about keeping him locked in a cage since he recklessly killed two fine people when he was free. How Jay *feels* about his incarceration doesn't concern me in the least.
Additionally, a psychiatrist would say that you have excused Jay in order to get yourself off the hook with your conscience for driving drunk, which you know to be wrong. How high-minded of you.

@25 & 26, Hello, I'm the author of this piece. There are some pretty wild assumptions and accusations here that I feel like I should respond to.

There are limitations to a 1200-word essay, so of course there is much which has gone unsaid in my original post. To begin with, I certainly hope it goes without saying that ever since my parents were killed by a drunk driver, I have been exceedingly careful not to ever cause this kind of agony and loss for others.

Logistically, this can be complex. I'm in a touring band; playing in bars and getting free drinks every night is par for the course. Keeping at least one member of your rock band sober every night of a US tour takes work, but it's necessary work, obviously. Please know that driving drunk is something that I can never again rationalize in myself and am not in the habit of rationalizing in others, particularly considering my personal circumstances.

When I speak of "car culture," my perspective is as someone who *has* rationalized, at least for the time being, the act of burning fossil fuels to travel from coast to coast in order to perform my art for others. I have rationalized playing shows at venues in neighborhoods that are only accessible by car; something which makes me complicit in a system that is set up to get people drunk and let them drive home. It is this system that I am interested in questioning, in the interest of possibly building something more humane.

I alluded to this in the piece, but my father was a psychotherapist. His PhD was in Family Environment, and he worked as a family systems counselor and clinical social worker. I was a psychology major myself before going to grad school for art. I mention this not to try to set myself up as any sort of authority on mental health, but to address your comment about what a "psychiatrist" might or might not tell me about my essay.

My perspective was forged in a family of mental health practitioners. My dad was a counselor for many people with drug and alcohol abuse problems, and it was from him (and my mother who worked as his office manager, in charge of wrangling payments from a busted insurance system) that I learned firsthand about the profound stigma and barriers to treatment that plague many people who suffer from addiction. It is *because* of my family, not in spite of them, that I am inclined to view Daniel Jay as something more than a piece of human garbage who deserves to rot in jail.

I hope this helps clarify my position somewhat. Happy Holidays!

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