David Louis Poenicke

March 7, 1965 - June 27, 1984

By Gail Rehme

I was ten-years-old the last time I saw my brother. David and his girlfriend headed downtown on Dave's motorcycle to a St. Louis Cardinal baseball game. After the game they stopped to grab a bite to eat and headed home. When they got on the highway they noticed the drinks were spilling on the seat. They pulled over on the shoulder...and that is when it happened. A man that had also been at the baseball game and had way too much to drink hit and killed my brother David, never to come home again. This one day changed my life forever.

I remember waking up in the night scared when I saw the Pastor from our church sitting with my parents in our living room. I can remember waking up the next morning to the sound of my father's voice saying get up and come sit down here on the floor beside me. My brother Gary and I shared a room and when we both sat at my father's side my dad said, "last night there was an accident and your brother David was killed by a drunk driver." The words still ring in my head. Why? In my ten-year-old mind I could not figure out why someone would take my brother from me. He was only 19 years old, I can remember thinking only old people die. So, he will never be able to take me to my softball games anymore...what about the glove he bought me? He wouldn't be able to see me use it. I can remember all of the people at my brother's funeral and a bunch of "big people" asking me if I was okay.

I can remember asking my mom why she was cleaning out my brother's drawers after the funeral. Our family was planning to travel to my cousin's wedding in Tennessee before my brother's death and her reply was "because when we get back home, he will not be here." Our family relied on faith to get us through this tough time. Knowing that our time on earth with David was done felt horrible, but knowing that we would see him again in heaven was huge. My parents were crushed, but remained strong for the other five of us. There were many times I remember my mom sitting out in the car when everyone else came in just to be alone.

I remember hearing my mom cry in the bathroom. As I got older I became bitter and angry. I remember how I just kept thinking this is not fair. It was in Junior High and High School when I first started to really take a stand as an advocate against drunk driving. I was the President for SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) in Junior High. I was a member of SADD in High School and chosen by my teacher to be a DARE Representative. I went to elementary school to tell children about what happened to my brother when I was ten-years old.

I graduated and my brothers and sisters were at my graduation, but not David. I married a man that loves the Cardinals just as much as my brother did, but never got to go to a game with him. My brothers, sisters and all of my husband's seven siblings were in our wedding, but not David. My first son was born. He also has a love for baseball, but his Uncle David will never be able to go to a game and see him play. It was a year before the 20th anniversary of David's death when I started thinking that there must be something we could do to remember him! I woke up one day and it was as if the memorial marker idea was just given to me from Higher hands; so I went with it!

Over the years my feelings have changed. I do not hate the man that killed my brother, it is because of him that I want to make a difference! I don't want anyone to have to feel the way my family feels. We will always have a hole in our hearts for my brother David. At first it felt that hole would never get smaller and 25 years later and we are still healing. So, that is why I am doing what I am doing...

Leave yesterday, Live today, Love forever!
 


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