WHITSETT, N.C. -- For Mona Rena Johnson, every day without her son Kie is a struggle.
"I just want him here,” Johnson said. “I want to hold him."
"We were robbed,” she said. “We didn't get to see him blossom into adulthood. We didn't get to see the type of person he would have been."
It's been nearly two years since Kie, a senior at Eastern Guilford High School, was killed in a car accident. He was only 17.
"This pain is going to forever, forever linger inside my heart," Johnson said.
Kie was the passenger in a friend's car when it crashed into a school bus on Aug. 26, 2015.
The driver had marijuana and Xanax in his system.
“His act of carelessness took something precious from us that we can never get back,” she said.
Since Kie's death, the mother has been speaking with teens, schools and churches about impaired driving.
“Make sure that whoever is operating that vehicle is coherent,” she advised. “They are able to drive that vehicle, and if not, please don't get in the car.”
It’s a message Johnson desperately wants teens to hear with many going back to school next week.
“Please, please remind your kids, be mindful of who you get in the car with,” Johnson said.
The kind of conversation she regrets not having with her own son.
“I just didn't see it was necessary,” she said. “I took it for granted.”
And while she's forgiven the person responsible for Kie's death, she wants to prevent other families from going through the pain she lives with every day.
“Maybe a senseless death as my son had to experience can be avoided,” she said.