Three is a special number in our collective families.
Rich and I are both one of three children. Our two siblings, Paul and Terri on the Levitan side and Rob and Webb on the Cheshire side, are blessed with beautiful families. Our nieces and nephews are kind, compassionate, and thriving, pursuing goals and dreams across the United States from Texas to Virginia, Tennessee to Georgia, Massachusetts to California, and in Washington D.C. We are a very close family. A family where cousins are more like siblings.
Rich and I, too, were blessed to have three beautiful children – Merritt, Hunter and Joe – all born in Boston, surrounded by pets and playgrounds, long summers spent in Georgia or the Jersey Shore, or in the city swinging a racket at Harvard Tennis Camp.
Merritt with her sister Hunter and brother Joe and Cousins Ronnie and Hayley
St. Simons Island, Georgia, 2010
Winters meant skiing every weekend at Sugarbush, Vermont with friends who quickly became family – our Northern family, and we watched the rush of school years fly by, first at Kingsley Montessori in the Back Bay and finally Milton Academy – a school that nurtured our children intellectually, gave them lifelong friendships, but moreover taught them lasting values such as integrity, honesty and most importantly, compassion.
Merritt Levitan, center, with close friends and her younger brother Joe, right.
Sugarbush, Vermont, Winter 2013
Rich and I were so blessed with our three.
The Levitans, Summer 2013, Sea Island, Georgia
On July 2, 2013, our eldest daughter Merritt, 18, was hit by a young driver on a country road in Arkansas while on a cross country bike trip. She suffered traumatic brain injuries and was medevaced to Memphis, Tennessee. Rich, Hunter, Joe and I, along with many friends and family members flew through the night to be by her side. She was surrounded by love. We were blessed to be with her. The next day, July 3, 2013, Merritt died.
The driver who hit and killed Merritt was texting. He was 21. It was unintentional. In just 4 seconds of texting, my beautiful family of five was shattered into four and three became two.
Merritt lost her life in 4 seconds of texting.
Three children. Four seconds of texting. Two children. 100% preventable.
Numbers, numbers, numbers…
This weekend we will mark the 3rd anniversary of our loss. Words fail. Merritt’s loss cannot be verbalized or expressed. It just is. Her loss is our collective aching heart. For the Levitans. For the Cheshires. For Merritt’s cousins. For her friends. Still.
Rich, Hunter, Joe and I are living – and yes, we are surviving and even thriving – we are happy, but we are changed. We are so very changed, at our core, in our souls, and in our hearts. And while we each believe, and furthermore KNOW, Merritt is with us everyday and that life – true life – is eternal for we are believers – we didn’t want a number change. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t expect it.
What’s a number after all? Everything.
July 3, 2016 is also National TextLess Live More Day. Please join us by turning off your phone and spend time with those you love, share and cherish. Go outside. Have a picnic. Run. Have fun. For yourself and for Merritt. Join us in celebrating life. Join us in taking a stand to prevent distracted driving and safe lives.
Rich, Hunter, Joe and I are with cherished friends this weekend. We will be laughing and eating (over eating!), sharing and having fun, and yes, probably crying somewhere either together or alone. We will be living for sure. For Merritt. For ourselves. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because we must.
Celebrate July 3 as National TextLess Live More Day
We thank you for your continued support to spread the word about TextLess Live More and tell Merritt’s story. Thank you for not texting and driving. Above all, we send you peace today and especially this weekend on July 3.
Anna, Rich, Hunter and Joe Levitan
TextLess Live More, founded by Merritt’s friends, is a national awareness campaign to end distracted driving, SAVE LIVES, and educate drivers of all ages about the real dangers of driving distracted.
July 3, 2016 is National TextLess Live More Day