From door to door, all the way down the dormitory hallway, the words were whispered.
"It's gonna be a blowout!"
"Gotta be there."
"Bring your own alcohol."
Joel's calloused hands kneaded Krista's small fingers as they sat on the couch outside the ICU. Joel's eyes darted toward the doorway. The click of the latch seemed to echo in the quiet waiting room.
"I'm sorry, we did everything we could." The doctor's words faded into the suffocating air as Krista crumbled. If Joel had not held her tightly, she would have fallen to the floor in a heap.
Krista's chest rose and fell with sobs while Joel signed off the organ donor form. A life snuffed out at 19 years old. Alcohol poisoning had taken their daughter.
Decisions of youth. The young feel immortal and know everything. Drink with a group, drink until they fall asleep. Get up the next day – all is fine.
Not so much this time.
Joel stood at the lectern in the auditorium. A packed house of high school seniors – graduating this year from the School of St. Mary.
"Parents all over the country will hear these words, 'We did everything we could.'"
"You have received an education with a basis in Scripture. Don't think that this tragedy cannot happen to you. To your family. That's what our Holly thought too."
"Now she is in the arms of our loving Savior. It's not time for you to join her. It just isn't."
When he concluded his presentation, the faculty thanked him for speaking to the students and asked him to stand at the front to talk to any students that came forward.
It felt like an old-time tent revival meeting.
The line of young people to speak to Joel and Krista was half the length of the auditorium. Jeremy had been a neighbor for over ten years. When he reached Joel, he pumped his hand once, then wrapped his arms around him tightly. "Thank you so much for coming here. Losing Holly last year has left an empty space in my soul. Sharing your story is so hard, I know, but many of my friends need to hear it. You may never know that you are someone's hero today."
Jeremy swept the tears from his cheeks before he moved away, and nodded to the next young man in line.
"It's gonna be a blowout…"
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