It Couldn’t Happen to Me! (The lies we tell ourselves.)
The news has been filled with so much tragedy over the last several days and with that comes what seems like the never ending opinions of strangers. Some are full of hope and love and compassion but others aren’t. In times like these we should be lifting each other up. Offering condolences, showing empathy, and compassion or simply keeping our mouths shut.
I sat feeling horrible for the mother whose 3-year-old who climbed/fell into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo. I have 2 small boys who keep me on my toes… hindsight is always 20/20. Knowing that my 2-year-old is a climber and extremely inquisitive, would I have kept a tighter reign on him? Would I have ventured to the zoo alone with the 2 little ones or waited until my husband had a day off to help? Maybe… maybe not. After this horrible accident you bet I’ll be that much more careful or watchful of my boys. But it only takes a second.
A split second for accidents to happen, for tragedy to strike. It is so easy when it’s not happening to us to sit back armed with our keyboards and say, “I would never!” Or call for retribution and prosecution of a family who is already struggling and punishing themselves. I don’t care how diligent you are or how careful you are. Bad things happen. Horrible things happen. And they happen quicker than you would think.
Just this past Easter we celebrated with an egg hunt in my mother-in-law’s back yard. My 2 youngest boys and 3 of my nieces along with 11 adults. I was sitting on the patio watching my 4 year old expertly flying a kite while my nieces played with bubble guns before I noticed that I didn’t see my 2 year old. There were 11 adults. ELEVEN adults and not one noticed before we did that Jackson had wandered off. My heart caught in my throat, I panicked and before I could reach the side of the house a neighbor stepped outside and told us she thought “we lost one” as she pointed towards the front of the house. They were inside watching our kids have fun when they spotted Jackson wandering off. It was only a matter of minutes but he had made his way to the front of the house and started to cross the little street towards the club house. I wanted to vomit! Someone could have grabbed him! He could have been hit by a car! What if they had begun construction of the pool? WHAT IF? Thankfully those were questions we didn’t have to answer that day. He was safe and back in my arms. But months later, I’m still beating myself up over it. I was so angry at myself for being distracted. For losing sight of him. For what could have happened.
To my husband’s point, my mother-in-law’s yard is much different than a public place, a zoo, a beach… we wouldn’t have been so relaxed with our little explorer near a gorilla enclosure or a body of water… But that doesn’t mean tragedy couldn’t have struck that day. It doesn’t make us immune from horrible accidents and the guilt that comes with those accidents. Or worse.
I know I am not perfect. I try every day to be better than I was the day before. And I feel like that’s all we can do. And instead of criticizing each other we should be helping each other. Take a lesson from these tragedies so that they aren’t repeated. The parent’s who lost their little 2-year-old at Disney paid the ultimate price. In a few days they will have to board a plane without their precious little boy. How do you do that? How do you explain such tragedy to your other children? How do you ever look at those vacation photos? How do you sleep? How do you eat? How do you not blame yourself?
My heart aches for them. I’m not judging them but instead I am praying for them and hugging my kids a little tighter tonight and thanking God that my kids are here with me and at least safe for another night.