Bruce’s Gift

May 16th, 2004  the day our world, as we knew it was forever changed.

My family had planned a surprise party for my 50th birthday. There had been many frantic and secretive calls going back and forth, among them a few to my youngest child, Bruce, a Springhill, Nova Scotia police officer. He wasn’t able to make it home that night because he had made plans to attend dog-hunting trials, but he called to wish me a happy birthday. I said goodbye to my son and told him to have a great time. I didn’t think to tell him I loved him or how very proud we were of him. It was the last time I would ever hear his voice.

About 1:30 a.m. Bruce and his friend Jason were headed back to the lodge after the dog-hunting trials when their vehicle was hit head-on by a vehicle driven by a young man doing 187 Km per hour, with a blood alcohol level of .243 or three times the legal limit. The young driver died at the scene of his crime.  Jason was rushed to the hospital and for the rest of his life will live with the pain of his injuries and the memory of the last moments of his friend’s life. 

We received the 3 a.m. call that no parent ever wants to receive from the Deputy Chief of Bruce’s police detachment. He informed us our son had been in a serious crash and to come to the hospital right away.

We arrived at the hospital at the same time as the ambulance and saw our son being brought in. It is a sight that no parent should ever see and was one that we will never forget.  When the doctor came to the waiting room, he told us there was a 99.5% chance that Bruce was brain dead and we should think of organ donation.

We couldn’t imagine! Our son was only 26, an athlete, 6’2” and 240 lbs. We imagined that nothing could hurt Bruce. But something had.

The day had many ups and downs, some hope and then no hope. There were many prayers and tears and begging for God’s mercy. The doctor finally came in the room and said that he had signed the death certificate. It was over. Our son was gone.

When we were told that the young driver who caused the crash was believed to have been impaired, I immediately thought of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada. For now, in fact, I had become a ‘mother against drunk driving’.

My life seemed to be spiraling out of control. The future loomed ahead as a big black void.

I had heard about MADD Canada, so I checked their website. We learned the facts, the statistics and what the members of MADD Canada had been doing. We also saw that their mission statement is to stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime.

That was us. MADD Canada offered support, and was only a phone call away.

My fingers shook as I made that first call. I connected with Gloria and I told her that our son had been killed by an impaired driver the week before. As I told her all about Bruce, she listened, gave me hope and offered to send some material in the mail, not only for my husband and myself, but our adult daughters as well. She connected me with the local chapter of MADD Canada. She told me that they would be there for us every step of the way and was true to her word.

Looking back over the last five years, my life has evolved. The pain of Bruce’s loss will always be with me. However, MADD Canada has given me the help, support and the means to go on and make Bruce’s life still matter. As a volunteer National President for MADD Canada, I represent a group that works together to educate, to inform and to support. We meet with the Prime Minister, Justice Ministers and local MPs and MPPs to strengthen our laws against impaired driving. We show a multi-media presentation to 750,000 students across the country to teach the impact of impaired driving and strategies to avoid it. We do countless interviews and public appearances to bring about awareness and change.  And we pay tribute to those who have been killed or injured by impaired driving.

I’m sure that without MADD Canada we would possibly not have survived our loss. I don’t know the person I would have become, but MADD Canada gave me the tools and the ability to do something constructive and fight back. It was something I desperately needed.

My daughter says that my time with MADD Canada is my tribute to Bruce. I believe that it’s his gift to me.

Thank you Bruce!

Margaret Miller
Volunteer National President
MADD Canada

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