KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Graduation season is upon us and that means people are out celebrating, many with alcohol. That's of particular concern for one Oahu woman whose child died from alcohol poisoning last year.
We first met Tracy Ah Mook Sang shortly after her 15-year-old daughter's sudden death. Since then, the grieving mother has been on a mission to keep other children from meeting the same fate.
The Molokai native says she grew up speaking pidgin English. Today, her powerful speech about the death of her teen daughter moves people to tears. She has also testified on bills before the state Legislature relating to underage drinking. It's a road she never dreamed she would have to travel.
Moments before her speech at a town hall meeting in Kaneohe, Tracy Ah Mook Sang is nervous...afraid her mind will go blank.
"This is a stretch and I'm really stepping out," she said.
Public speaking has never been her thing.
"I always was like that from even high school," she said. "Debate class, speech class, I just did not like it."
But for the 18th time in 10 months, she gathers up the courage to talk to strangers about the worst experience of her life.
"My name is Tracy Ah Mook Sang and I'm the mother of Makamae Ah Mook Sang, who was 15 when she passed away on July 30th, 2009 from alcohol poisoning," she said to the crowd through tears.
A beautiful hula dancer, canoe paddler and church-goer -- an outgoing young lady with so much promise -- Makamae went to a party one night and drank herself to death.
"I'm sure that night, Makamae or her friends had no idea that what they were about to do would cost Makamae her life," she said.
Tracy's heart was ripped out. Her faith...tested.
"I kept begging God to give me one more time with her," she said through tears. "You took her without letting me talk to her and say my goodbyes and tell her how much I love her and appreciate her. I longed to hear that from her, too. Mom, I'm going to miss you."
She says she stumbled upon letters and essays that Makamae had written, and found God's purpose.
"Tracy, I'm going to use this. Your sorrow, your hurt, I'm going to use it to help others," she said.
There's not a dry eye in the room, as Tracy exposes her pain and deep regret.
"I encourage all of you to get educated," she said.
As close as she was to her daughter, the two never talked about the dangers of alcohol.
"I was so involved in Makamae's life, in everything, her friends, everything, knowing where she was at at all times," she said. "That was the one thing I'd never done 'cause I didn't even know."
The man who served Makamae the lethal amount of alcohol is awaiting sentencing. Under a plea deal, Michael Clark will receive a one-year jail term for this case and several unrelated offenses.
"I know ultimately God is who he answers to," Ah Mook Sang said. "But I do believe, too, that every action has a consequence."
That belief meant accepting a difficult fact. Her daughter was also to blame.
"I've always held Makamae ultimately responsible because as a mom, I raised her the best I could and I would have just hoped that she made a better choice," she said.
So she urges parents to start talking with their kids early about what happened to one bright-eyed girl from Papakolea.
"In closing, my hope and prayer is that through my sharing about my daughter, Makamae, and the pain and loss that our family has suffered and endured, will make a difference in all of your lives," she told the crowd.
If you are interested in asking Tracy to speak before your group you can contact her at email@example.com