What if things happened differently? What if the driver had not been there? What if the
girls looked to both sides before stepping onto the street? What if the girl had ran faster? What if someone else walked the children home? What if there was a crossing guard? What if the school crossing had lights? What if the driver had stopped sooner? What if daddy or mommy had been there? What if an angel had been there?
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 RSV)
Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories are happy and some are sad. This is my story of healing and hope.
Bottled up tears cannot be forgotten. Grief has many faces, but how a child grieves may be different from how adults articulate their grief.
So many mothers and fathers have lost children in accidental deaths, suicides, murder, or deadly diseases. People do heal from such tragedies, although loved ones are never forgotten. The grieving process takes time, but there is healing for every mother, father, sibling, grandparent or friend.
One day two senior women were talking on the phone reminiscing about the past. Well into their 80s with their hearing diminished they speak loudly.
After listening to her friend’s description of an event that happened over 50 years ago, the other woman blurts out unsolicited advice.
“Why didn’t the older sister take her little sister’s hand and walk her across the street?”
The mother’s memories are sharp about family events even when dementia now fogs her brain. With her wit intact she retorts back, “Then I would have lost two children.”
What wisdom? Nothing else was heard on the phone. What can her friend say? The conversation ended abruptly. The phone clicked.
A Child Hit by a Car
The experience had been a total shock when a 5-year old girl was hit by a car on a busy road. Recovered from her grief so long ago the mother now talks about it with an old friend.
Two sisters were walking home from the school skating rink on a cold January evening. Dusk had already settled in and the street was dark with no lights or crossing guards. They were only 5 and 6 years old, and a long way from home. It was cold so they hurried and ran as fast as their little legs would carry them.
The road was busy with many cars. People were going home from work or going to dinner with friends. Everyone was going somewhere.
Suddenly a little girl ran across the road to the safety of the sidewalk.
The driver noticed but kept driving. Then the tires locked as the car slid forward even when his foot rested on the brakes. What?
Another little girl ran on the road!
But it was too late. The car couldn’t stop. The bumper hit something with a bang! The vehicle slowed down but the little body was dragged several yards until the driver could stop the vehicle.
The man was horrified. He got out of the car and looked. What had he done?
Strands of blonde hair streaked around a thick winter hat. Limp legs protruded from underneath the vehicle. As he moved closer he saw an unrecognizable face filled with blood. Eyes were closed. Winter coat and pants were ripped.
No one really knows who called the ambulance. When the sirens sounded the sister panicked and ran home to tell mommy. “My sister is hurt. A car hit her.”
Three days later, the little girl was gone. Angels had come for her. A child’s earthly life was cut short in this unforeseeable accident.
A mother still remembers.
A child’s death can never be forgotten.
Hope lives as this mother waits for the day when she will meet her little angel in heaven.
What if I had been there?
This is a true story from my mother’s life. I was 12 years old when this happened.
The news is full of stories of grief that children experience. Young children resort to shooting other children while siblings watch helplessly. Schools have hired grief counsellors.
My grief was unseen so many years ago. We had no counselling. Now writing about it brings healing, and “What if” questions pass through my thoughts. I let them go. The past is gone.
Then I think I have eternal hope…I will see my little sister one day!
What about you?
What are some ways children grieve the loss of someone they love and even for pets?
I would love to hear from you.