Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It matters not~

Some days I don't make time to read the paper; others I go from front-page headlines, to Op Eds to obits. The obits I scan, mostly to see the age of death and maybe the cause. Some days are "good" days. The good died old. Other days . . . not so good.

Today there was the story of a 17-year old girl whose last hours were spent in a swamp . . . I can read dry-eyed the stories of the men and women who die in their 90s with accolades and acknowledgements. But a child's death brings a pain sharp and cold to my heart.

It matters not that underage drinking likely played a part. Who, reading this, can say they have not, by the grace of God, or the luck of the draw, or fate, escaped the consequences of a foolish act?

Not I.

But this girl paid the consequence of partying with friends, drinking, and then saying good-bye . . . but wandering into a swamp instead of her car.

"This is why you have to know where your kids are at all times," my husband says as I read the story to him, my voice breaking with emotion.

I know he wants to think that parental control is enough, that our kids are safe because he "knows" where they are. That he can keep them safe. He sounds tough because it hurts to think there are things he can't control.

"Her parents thought they knew where she was," I say softly.

Once I woke just before midnight at the sound of a crash. Against my husband's advice, I pulled on my bathrobe and walked out into a surreal world of flashing lights that made midnight brighter than noon. And in the strobe effect I saw two young boys-- 16- year olds-- lying lifeless on my neighbor's lawn. Yes, they'd been drinking and rushing to be home before their curfew when they hit another car.

My comment the next day when the local news station came with their camera and mics looking for a comment was, "It wasn't an accident. It was a consequence."

It was a consequence, but there was no comfort in the words I uttered years ago when my own slept in cribs . . . and I knew where they were. No understanding that it matters not why loved ones die, or even their age. The pain is the same.

It hurts.
While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. ~Stephen R. Covey


Janice Thomson said...

It sure does. That's twice you caught me with my guard down - just when I think I'm doing so good - the other was the comment on the first post on the blog....maybe I need it to happen. Poignant post Ruth.

Pauline said...

Even thinking about the death of a child brings me to tears. I still worry about my children and they are in their 30s and 40s. We may not be free to choose the consequences of our chosen actions but we can acquaint ourselves with them beforehand and know that every action brings some consequence. (Though there is no comfort in any of that.)

Greg C said...

Great post today Ruth. The other day my 11 year old was missing for only 15 minutes and I totally freaked out. My wife is like your husband and assumes everything will be ok.

Barbara said...

There's a point beyond which we parents just have to hope for the best -- their lives are in their hands.

leslie said...

Every time I hear an ambulance screaming by or something on the news about a certain aged person, I automatically think of my daughters, my son-in-law, and their friends. You never stop worrying about them no matter their age or circumstance. Well put, Ruth.

Tere said...

Every parent's worst fear. Even though this child was not yours, I can tell you feel for the parents. And I agree with your statement about the parents who THOUGHT they knew where their child was. We never really know, we only hope we know and that they are safe.

Wanda said...

You have touch a cord.... as you always do.

I remember like yesterday when we got the call of Jill's horrible car accident. The consequence of driving too fast, and not wearing seat belts, and not having the experience to not over correct which could have save the months of recovery ....

Ruth, you narative and the picture...I can only sigh and thank God that our daughter made it.


Wanda said...

Ruth, I meant to say I will say prayers for this family... I know they are hurting so very badly.

RiverPoet said...

Oh, it is very hard when a young person dies, no matter how it happens. All that wasted potential. When it is because of disobedience or foolhardiness, it's even worse. I can't imagine how her parents are feeling.

Thanks for this sensitive post...Peace - D

Linda said...

First off, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

Second, as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher I've more or less gotten used to dealing with death and dying on a regular basis but that doesn't mean that no longer affects me - particularly when it's someone way too young for such a thing. Generally when it's younger people, you're absolutely right in that it is a consequence rather than a natural progression and even 'accident'.

Accidents do happen but they happen because perhaps someone was doing something they weren't supposed to be doing that caused it.

It would be nice if we could always protect our children but unfortunately, that's not how life works as they have their own minds and their own wills. We can only hope that their actions don't lead to such sad consequences as you've written about here.

david mcmahon said...

Every teenage driver should read this post, Ruth.

Anonymous said...

It never ends, the worry and the hurt for them, our children, who will be determined to learn by their own mistakes, completely confident in the knowledge that nothing bad will ever happen to them.
they read the news, see the photo's of the dead and the maimed and, for a while they may take more care, but there will always be temptations, dares and challenges to lure them into danger. We can only hope and pray that they will survive the most dangerous age.

Merisi said...

There but for the grace of God go I, yes, there's so much wisdom in it.
I hurt for every life lost too young.
One of my brothers died because of two grown-ups, one speeding in dense fog, the other travelling with a broken tail light. It's so easy to judge and blame the young.

Thank you for your thoughts, and congratulations on winning a spot on David's "Post of the Day".

david mcmahon said...

As they say, Ruth, time is a great healer - but it doesn't make it any easier.

Bob Sanchez said...

A touching and thoughtful post, Ruth.

Anna said...

Oh that is so sad Ruth. I myself had few friends that drown just because parents let them go anywhere, three went into the river, still can remember that day when it happened. It is sad.

BTW I found your site through David, excellent stories and your photos.

Anna :)