As a mother of two young children, living on a busy stretch of main road bordering the Taranaki Port, my worst nightmare to date is one of my girls getting out on that road and being rolled by a vehicle.
We had a near miss in February 2014 when my husband went out to check the mail with a then Miss 17 months, and left a gate open upon coming back into the property.
I was making dinner and I asked him if Miss 17 months was ok, to which he replied “yeah, she’s playing outside”. Being me, I stopped what I was doing to confirm that it was in fact the case. I looked out the ranch slider and wondered why there were so many cars parked outside my house. In the foreground I noticed that our gate was wide open. I screamed at my husband to investigate and hauled ass to the gate where a responsible adult was holding her on the other side of the road, which also ran along side an un-fenced railway line.
I was absolutely distraught. It was low, 5:30pm light, so south bound traffic would have been blinded by the sun and never would have seen her in their path until it was too late.
A man came across the road with Miss 17 months in his arms and scolded me, advising me to get a better lock on my gate. My husband cowered behind the fence while I took the wrap – here I was, 5 months pregnant, looking like some irresponsible and seemingly single parent who was not watching their child. I thanked this man from the bottom of my heart and glared up at my husband as he paced the veranda with an obvious expression of regret and worry on his face.
I wanted to nail him to a cross. I really did. I was so angry and in my head, I blamed him for what could have been and I wanted to divorce him immediately. My voice of reason stepped in and I dropped my case without pointing my finger or opening my mouth. I remembered that even the most diligent parents can make a tiny mistake that has a disastrous effect and young children really are faster than we give them credit. He already knew the potential that this situation had in being a tragic disaster. Thank the universe that it didn’t come to that, he was sorry and I could see that. No need to reprimand him further, despite my insatiable urge to want to.
I remember the tears in my eyes for hours afterwards, my heart racing and the endless thoughts of “what if she hadn’t been so lucky?” It killed me for days, until time passed and I accepted that she wasn’t hurt and it was a terrible mistake that my husband and I both learned from. We’ve never had an incident of this kind since.
Fast forward two years, March 3rd 2016, I’m driving home from work and hear on the radio that an 18 month old child was hit by a truck and a few other vehicles whilst wondering out onto the highway in the Waikato/Coromandel region.
The emotions from that near miss I experienced just over 2 years ago came back and kicked me in the butt. I froze, mouth wide open with tears in my eyes at the unimaginable, painful reality that family are now faced with. I was overcome with emotion at what the driver who hit the child and other witnesses are now feeling and my heart absolutely poured with love and strength for every single person involved in this tragedy as they begin the process of accepting the situation for what it is and finding ways to live with the aftermath.
As a mother, I imagined the thoughts running through the heads of those who love him: this time yesterday, baby was playing happily with his siblings and attempted to feed himself dinner. This time last week, baby was exploring the sprinkler in the backyard, wondering why he can’t walk through it without being saturated. The packet of unused nappies sitting on the floor, the empty cot, the clean washing bearing his clothes that needs to be folded. Pinpointing every single time spending time with him could have trumped the task they prioritized. That feeling of loss, I imagined it, and I haven’t even experienced it for myself, but I HATED it.
I do not perform funerals, and the reason why, is that I am not equipped with the maturity, emotional capacity or strength to meet with a grieving family and ask them to reflect on someone they have just lost. I would be even less able to cope with such a task if it involved not only a child, but also the tragic circumstances in which they were taken, such as this.
So today, as a mother and a Celebrant, my thoughts and my heart are with the family and witnesses and also those in the background who provide support to this grieving family, the distraught travelers & community. To my fellow celebrant chosen to perform the child’s service, whoever you are, kia kaha/be strong in your journey of putting the child’s life into words and your involvement in celebrating this precious life, taken much too soon, but right on time, according to the universe.
I know and trust that the small Coromandel community at the centre of this tragedy will band together and do everything they can for the family and for each other, as they pick up the pieces of this life shattering event. You have my support from here in Taranaki and I wish you all the best in the coming months.
Rest in Peace, sweet baby boy.
With all the Love in the world,