I had a child who was a little “Houdini” – blink and he was gone. Time came to buy a house – and when we bought one with a pool, I began researching child drownings. This led me to research other stories of child accidents.
I had started digging into these articles, and brain-storming with my husband who is the awareness expert training military and law enforcement.
We had come up with a few child safety Protocols, when I attended a graveside service with some close friends. They were burying their full term baby who was stillborn, and understandably, the 30 members of the small group were in deep mourning for this infant they were never able to know.
The pastor began his prayer and we all bowed our heads with eyes closed. A few seconds later, my eyes popped open when I suddenly remembered that the couple’s 2 year old daughter was wandering among the legs of the group.
I looked around, spotted her, and observed that everyone else, including the pastor, had their eyes closed in deep concentration. I, now wide-eyed, watched the child walk away from the group, and down a small berm to a golf-cart pathway which wound through the cemetery.
I decided to follow her, staying within the “reactionary gap” -the gap between the adult and child which should be smaller than the distance from the child to any danger. I eventually corralled, and and re-directed her to head back towards her grieving parents. The unfolding dynamic could not have been more ironic.
Later I had a conversation with myself thinking that I was taking this too far, it’s a little obsessive, people don’t think this way, and I was making a big deal out of nothing. Besides, she was never in any danger because we were in the middle of a cemetery, and she was only wandering along a pathway; it’s not like she was on a busy road.
I put the incident out of my mind.
The next week, I read this headline and freaked out:
“Toddler Almost Drowns at Cemetery.”
“A 2-year-old boy was in critical condition after nearly drowning at a cemetery during a funeral service for his great-grandfather in San Jose, police said Wednesday.
“The boy, identified as Aizik Buno, wandered away from his family during the viewing service Tuesday at Oak Hill Memorial Park at 300 Curtner Ave. and went outside to play with other children, police said.
“Family members discovered Aizik unconscious in the water a short time later and started CPR, authorities said. Brian Kestenblatt, the mortuary manager, said the boy had been found in a shallow, man-made stream that winds through a garden where cremated remains are interred.”
The boy would die within the week.
I don’t think parents ever recover from this kind of grief hangover when all paths lead back to self-recrimination and images of a dead child.
Then I thought, I have to keep working on this and find a way to make it public.
It is my reluctant passion, which has found me, as much as I have found it. I try to shake it off; it finds me.