An open letter


To my peer who decided to make fun of someone who can’t drive:

Listening to you and your friend make fun of someone who doesn’t drive – merely assuming they choose not to drive – caused me ask you if you knew why they didn’t drive, and it forced me to consider a few things about a situation my family was recently in.

As someone who had to take care of someone who lost the ability to drive because of a medical condition, listening to what you and your friend said really struck a chord in me.

What if you didn’t know why my husband wasn’t driving for 4 1/2 months  and proceeded to make fun of both of us for doing something we HAD to do, out of necessity?

My husband suffered a seizure that rendered his driver’s license null and void, forcing both of us to rearrange our lives. Medically, he was not allowed to drive until he was seizure-free and cleared by a neurologist, and until then, he lost that independence. He couldn’t go to the grocery store to run errands. He couldn’t drive when we wanted to go out to dinner or to a movie. He couldn’t drive to a local park to take photos on the walking trails, one of his favorite things to do. These are things that are normal and routine for him, and because he couldn’t drive, he couldn’t live that part of his life. Instead, the driving in the family fell on me, and I just did it. When you are married, that is what you do, no questions asked. Because you love that person and will do whatever you can to make sure that they are safe and are still capable of living their life.

And if my husband wasn’t married? He’d have to carefully consider options for transportation, merely to maintain his livelihood.

If you suffer a seizure in Ohio, you’re not allowed to drive for a minimum of six months, unless you are cleared by a neurologist. In California, your license is revoked for two years and you are entered in a state database that essentially says you cannot drive. There are other reasons why people cannot drive: Narcolepsy. Fainting disorders. Chronic vertigo. Mental illness. Medications that control medical issues.

So before you decide to arbitrarily make fun of someone for what might be a choice, or what might be forced, ask my husband what it was like for him not to drive for 4 1/2 months. Or, better yet, ask the person who isn’t driving why they’re not driving – if it’s by choice or by force. Or, even further, ask yourself what you would do if you were put in that position  and without that outlet.


Tonight, one conversation forced me to consider the value of empathy. If I ever made fun of you without knowing the whole story, I’m really, really sorry.


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