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Friday, February 12, 2010


I have been trying to write this blog post for over a week now, and each time what I write just seems to trite and doesn't even come close to what I want to express. I have experienced tragedy in my own life. Jenna's diagnosis and her subsequent death were the hardest things I had ever been through. It was hard for me to imagine anything much worse happening, but I now know worse things do happen to people and it happens every day.

My aunt is a babysitter. She was Tessa's babysitter from the time I went back to work when Tessa was eight weeks old until she started kindergarten. When I was still working, she went to Joyce's house every day after school. Even after I lost my job, she would still go over there after school to play with all the kids over there. I often go over to her house in the afternoons myself just to sit and talk to her a while. She's kept plenty of other kids from six weeks of age until they start preschool or kindergarten. My aunt is the grandmotherly type, and I just love her. She reminds me so much of my granny. When she keeps a child for that long, she naturally gets very close to them and their families. They become like her grandchildren, and she really and truly loves. them. Since I spend time over there in the afternoons, I've gotten to know some of them, too.

One was a little boy I will call LD. Not only had she kept him from the time he was six weeks old, she had also kept one of his cousin's, RL, from that age also. LD and RL's parents and shared family members became our friends and like family to us. RL's family moved to Louisiana after Christmas because her father got a good job there. LD, his mom, dad, half-brother and grandfather planned a trip down for Valentine's Day. When they left her house that Thursday, my aunt Joyce warned them to be careful and told them to have a good time.

The next day, she received a call from LD's mother, telling her he had died. Around 3 a.m. Friday morning, the family ran into some bad weather. Their SUV slid on some ice and went off the road. The SUV went into the water. LD and his grandfather were both killed. LD was in the water for four hours before he was found, and then the hospital worked on him for that long trying to save him. It was no use. This sweet, sensitive, funny little boy was gone.

I helped my aunt keep him when she had a doctor's appointment or had something she needed to do. I changed his diapers. I comforted him when he got his feelings hurt. Tessa played with him every day. I loved that little boy like he was one of my nephews. This has hurt my heart so terribly. I know just a little about what his family is going through because of my own loss, but I can't imagine the depth of their pain and the different emotions that are flooding through them right now.

I remember people telling me that I was strong when I lost Jenna or that they didn't know how I was getting through it. You just do, second by second, minute by minute, until all of those seconds and minutes add up and you've gotten through an hour, a day, a month, a year. You have to get through it, even when you feel like you don't want to. I hated when people told me those things. It made me feel as though I wasn't handling it the way they thought I should, that maybe I wasn't grieving enough. I will never, ever tell that to anyone who has lost someone.

I can't make sense of this tragedy. As much as I was saddened by my loss, I realized it was a matter of biology, that Jenna had Trisomy 18 because of a fluke of nature. But, this, a sweet, little four year old boy losing his life, I just can't make sense of it. My mom and my aunt say things happen for a reason, but I just can't see a reason for this. His parents are good people; they don't deserve this. No one deserves this.

Tessa is handling it as well as can be expected. When I told her what happened, she said, "I feel like my cousin died." And, in a way, I guess one did, because that's what he was like to her. Then, she said, "Momma, why does this keep happening?"

I can't give her an answer for that. In less than a year's time, she lost her great-grandmother, a preschool friend in a fire and then Jenna. Now, less than two years later, she's lost another playmate. She's had more experience with death in her six years than I did in the first 25 years of my life. I want an answer to her question. I want to know why it keeps happening and what we can do to stop it. I want to know why four year olds die, what the reason for it is, even though I don't really think there is one. I'm beginning to think things just happen, for no reason, and we just have to deal with them as they come.

If you could keep LD's parents in your thoughts, along with Tessa and my aunt, who is understandably devastated at his loss, I would appreciate it.


Reese said...

I am sorry to hear about the passing of this sweet boy and his grandfather.

It never gets easy to hear about a child's death. A friend's co-worker's 12 yo son committed suicide a few months ago and I felt apart. I didn't even know this woman, but the tragedy of loss---senseless loss on top of that was way too much to handle. We know the pain, even though it is not exactly the same, but we know the pain, and we don't want anyone else to feel that pain.

Keeping your family and hers in my thoughts today.


Stacey said...

I'm a little late in reading this post but I'm glad I did. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of such a beautiful boy's life. It's always a tragedy for the death of a child. My thoughts and prayers are with LD's family and your family also.