The short conversation on the phone left my husband, Martin with a look of shock. “What was that about?” I asked. Martin stood in silence, took some forced deep breaths and softly spoke. “There’s been an accident. A terrible accident.” As it turned out, one of my son, Max’s dear childhood friend was killed in a car crash hours before. He left a party in the early morning hours feeling it would be safe to drive. He got into his car, still slightly intoxicated from the night before neglecting to put on his seat beat. He drove off and almost immediately crashed into a tree. He wanted to get home; it was such a short distance. This was a great kid who made a terrible decision.
My son was on his way to a concert in Boston, ready to savor his last night in town and then finish up the packing in the morning. Martin called him to tell him of the tragedy so he didn’t read it on facebook or hear it on the news or from a friend. Somehow we thought perhaps we could soften the blow from the sickening news. He began to wail over the phone. He uttered a sound I had never heard come from him before. I could hear the ghoulish cries even as I stood several feet away from the phone.
How could this be? They were such great buddies. So many childhood memories shared. Max came home, locked himself in his room and sobbed. One by one Amy, Martin and I offered to talk to him or just be with him. “I need to figure this out alone. I need to think. I need…” His cries could be heard throughout the house. Amy left to walk the dog, just so she could shield herself at least temporarily from Max’s anguish.
My heart aches for the family that suffered the greatest loss of all. Their lives forevermore changed and broken. My heart aches for the young man with such promise that will never see age twenty. My heart aches for my son who lost his dear boyhood friend along with his innocence. No one is impervious. Yes, we need to train our children to be ever vigilant in making good choices and decisions. Even then we cannot save them from senseless catastrophe.
Last night I found myself murmuring prayers for the unspeakable loss of this family and for the protection of my own children.
How do you best protect your children from catastrophe?