I received one of those calls Monday morning about 7:30 a.m. It was from a minister at our church informing me of an auto accident involving a friend of my daughter. Sarah was killed instantly. By the time I reached the top of the stairs, my daughter, Hillary, was there waiting, having heard the news via text message.
As I held my daughter there on the stairs attempting to take the pain away, I recognized through her sobs that she had crossed a line from which there is no return. Dad could not fix this hurt. There was pain and shock and loss and finality all flooding her emotions to overload. We simply had to walk through this together. Facing mortality at any age is a challenging thing. Facing it as a kid is gut wrenching.
As a parent, my emotions were flooded as well…profound thanks that I was holding my little girl, profound sorrow for Sarah’s parents, and the lingering unanswerable questions that always follow such a tragedy. Parental sermons spoken almost by rote every time a child leaves the driveway suddenly become desperate: Be careful, wear your seat belt, drive the speed limit, call me when you arrive, who’s driving?,… on and on they go.
Ultimately I recognize the line that Hillary had crossed was one that I had crossed as well. I ultimately can’t protect her. Life happens…and all that it entails.
2 thoughts on “the phone call…”
Mike – I guess “the field” isn’t always a pleasant place to be. I try to imagine it as I see it in the spring – green, the dew reflecting sunlight on a cool spring morning… the promise of life. But “the field” is full of heartache as well. I’m so sorry you had to experience something “that dad could not fix.” I try not to think about things like this, but as you said – Life happens. Thank you for posting your thoughts. I appreciate your transparency for those of us who aren’t too far behind in the parenting world.
The first time a young person encounters the death of a friend, he or she is faced with the reality of loss and mortality. For me, it was the unexpected death of a young man who attended college with Rita and me. He and his wife married about the same time that we did; six months later he was dead of a physical ailiment that no one knew he had. Death was suddenly very real to me.