A Long Walk With Sally: David Clark Jr.
Life takes on different meanings for all of us at different times of our lives. Events that happen can spiral out of control and be beyond your viewpoints and control causing havoc, chaos and in this case sadness. When taking a look at life the author’s perspective and ability to handle, stress, work, strife and life in general changed. On April 4, 2004 a young man chose to have six drinks and 3 shooters as they are called in a bar with some friends. But, even though he was over the limit and appeared inebriated no one tried to stop him from what happened next. The bartender and the owners never thought to cut off him and neither offered to take his car keys and send him home by cab. His friends believed him that he could drive and the end result was more than tragic for one family.
Sally and Grace were cousins and best friends. They were inseparable. As you read the introduction and you hear the voice of David Clark Jr. you will understand his heartache, his anger because that fateful night changed more than just his life forever. God moves in his own way and although Daniel might have been ready to call in his final chips he realized that God had other plans for his future. Golf was always his passion and playing in the British Isles and spending time there was exciting to him. When Grace and Sally were driving home from a weekend with friends, (neither were driving,) someone side swapped the car at 90 miles an hour as their lives were taken on impact.
Guns and knives are weapons so are bombs and other nuclear devices but what everyone needs to know is so are cars. Cars are meant to get you where you need to go and not meant to be abused, raced or driven when intoxicated. When David Scott Shimp got into his car it was picking up a loaded gun but the ammunition was the gas pedal that sped down the darkened road. Learning about the accident no one wanted to believe that Sally and Grace were not gone nor would Daniel even now be able to deal with her death.
When David states at the start of the chapter titled Staying Safe that Sally’s life was a rainbow and she “ had a spirit that was contagious,” he summed it up in these short words. The fact that everyone saw her that way and everyone she met loved her and were drawn to her created a void in many lives not just David and Jo’s. Telling other people in their family mainly their two sons was difficult and David at times could not handle the simplest tasks or want to even deal with he many tasks and arrangements needed to put both Sally and Grace in their final resting places and able to watch over him and his family from God’s Heaven. David had guilt all over him and felt responsible for what happened to the girls thinking he should have insisted on picking them up and driving them home. But, unfortunately you cannot change what happens and even if he drove all the way to get them does not mean the end result would have been the same. He cannot blame himself. I do understand how he feels and at times I reflect back on something within my own family and thought if I had put my foot down even harder something else would have changed or the end result different.
Calling, texting, recalling and praying did not change the end result when all of the parents tried to call both Sally and Grace hoping one would return a phone call. Standing outside of his car and realizing that the phones would no longer ring he hoped that the inevitable was not true.
Strengths come and go in this case David could not deal with identifying his daughter at the morgue nor could he ultimately deal with the arrangements to follow and relied on the help of a dear friend. When focusing on what the police had and their information it took time before they were forthcoming with information. Sally was in the front seat and Grace in the back behind her. Tragedies happen and this one took more than its toll on the author and his family. Telling each of his sons was the hardest thing he and Jo had to do and facing it even harder. Losing a child is like losing a limb. Sally was part of him and he realized things needed to be in place like the music and choosing where the funeral would take place and more left Daniel rigid and unable to function. Choosing the song “You Raise Me Up,” by Josh Groban was perfect. Dealing with the Sheriff’s department and the Police allowed them to avoid the accident scene the day of the viewing taking them different route. Everyone deals with loss in a different way and David and to find his own way within himself in your to function. Chapters 6 and 7 will take readers back to where his life with Jo began, how they met and their wedding day followed by Sally’s first journey into the world and a picture of David holding this precious girl on page 71. Chapter 7 is her journey, her childhood and how she became involved in sports, what led her to realize she could not play professional sports and the end result taking her to follow her path with God.
Sally came home one day and sat with a close friend and helped him through a crisis leading her to a path with God and becoming a member of Grace Covenant Church. She was a member of the Chapel Hill Choice and she loved the idea of going there as a junior. Easter Sunday of 2004 was hard and the three sermons at three different churches were hard for Daniel as well as arriving out their family plot with the girl’s ashes laid to rest there. Dealing with the investigating officers and wanting to meet with the families to talk about the accident was hard as David Scott Shimp had six beers and three shooters and the anger welled up in David. No one should have allied him behind the wheel of a car and why didn’t his friends realize the risk he would take he had more to drink and why didn’t they stop him from driving, call a cab or the police?
The events that followed were often a blur to Daniel and then he decided how he was going to move forward but in a different way than most people. Driving home he wondered if Sally or God or both communicating with him to let him know she is okay and not to blame himself? He drove and wondered what was next and tried not to blame himself for what happened. Keeping a special journal and writing it to Sally helped him in many ways and then the thought came to him that golf and playing different courses might be the answer to help him deal with his grief. A friend’s words that I will quote brought it all into perspective as Rich says: whether we live to be 100 or 19, the difference in the timeline of humanity is miniscule.” Even though she was here only 19 years she made an impression on so many that would be everlasting. Sally was special and she had left her mark in many places and on so many people in a positive way. The remainder of the book tells about his determination to play many golf courses, hoping to create a special memorial to Sally, hoping that by hitting golf balls and traveling to 290 courses he might finally find peace. But, how can he find peace until the final decision on Shimp’s innocence of guilty is handled and the bar owners and bartender are more than held accountable. The trial would be hard the defendant pled guilty. Each course he played had special meanings and having Jo and his friends join him made the experience more meaningful and powerful but along the way David had to deal with the trial of the man who took the live of Sally and Grace and place his energy into creating a proper memorial. Since Sally loved sports and interacting with both adults, young adults and children creating Sally’s Y was fitting. Sharing the opening ceremonies, what it took to get the funding and hopefully creating something special for everyone in her memory allows readers to share the experience and join in the opening of the Y. Red Moon Marketing was hired to help put together the material needed for their capital campaign efforts. By the time the Y was to open that had over six million dollars in promised donations. With a special book by Donald Steel on golf and golf courses, another in 2009 by Dr. David Cook a noted psychologist, about a fictional golfer who had lost sight of what was important in life. Perhaps Daniel would learn about himself and look long and hard and realize that he too had lost sight of who he is, burying himself in his golf and not realizing that there are so many others that needed him. When Reynolds, his son married Jennifer that should be a happy day and the birth of his granddaughter woke him up to the fact that his life is filled with love, joy and that Sally and Grace will always be there for him in spirit, with some sign and that the pictures he shares of Sally, his golf trips and his family will keep her memory alive forever. This book is just one of the ways you have honored her memory and Sally’s Y the second. Everyday that you remember her and write in your journal to her about a special memory or just stop and think and look up at the sun you will see a special ray shine down and she will let you know she is always there. Thank you for sharing Sally with so and me many others. Sometimes when we lose our way something happens when we least expect it and we find our way back.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine