11 May 2008

Too busy to remember

Something happened in our corner of the world this week that has wrenched at my guts since I heard about it. Something I don't want to blog, but something that has occupied my mind so completely that I realise until I type it out, it will eat me alive.

In the town in which I grew up, in a street close to my old house, a baby died. A dear, sweet little baby. Her death could have been avoided and was a result of human error. Dreadful, horrible, glaring human error.

I don't know any of the people involved in this event. I know it only as a news item, but I do know that a hundred kilometres away there is a mother who is going through a hell that is worse than any hell I could possibly imagine.

You see, it was the mother's error that caused the baby's death.

As I understand from news stories and rumours, the mother was supposed to drop the baby at day care and then go to work for the day. I'm not sure if she had older children to take to other places before her own workday started, but I suspect that she might have.

However in the bustle and flurry of those ghastly pre-work hours she forgot one thing. One crucial thing. One thing that will haunt her until the day she dies.

She forgot to drop the baby at day care. Just forgot. The baby must have been fast asleep in the car seat, the mother must have been in a hurry and had a thousand things on her mind, and she must have grabbed her work bag, locked the car and walked away in a bit of a daze.

At the end of the working day she went back to her car and made a discovery that was so absolutely horrible that I can't even begin to type what I imagine she found or how she felt. What she screamed. Who she called. Where she dropped to weep.

This story has affected me to deeply, so profoundly that I have been thinking of her for days. I think also of the baby and what she must have suffered. But I think mostly of the mother and the unspeakable horror her life has become. If only I could turn back the clock. A few days ago her life was okay. Now it has changed and will never ever be the same.

You see, it affects me so deeply because I too get distracted. I forget things. I juggle so many mental balls that some do drop to the ground and the rest of them represent tasks that are half-done or poorly done. Or friends who are required to be satisfied with a compromise because the life of a mother is just so difficult, frantic and overloaded.

I am encouraged because although I do get distracted and forget things, my children are usually in the forefront of my mind. I don't leave them waiting in the car, no matter how inconvenient it might be. You never know when you might get 'caught up'.

I often forget to hang a load of washing out because my mind is occupied with Sonny Ma-Jiminy and Smoochy Girl's whereabouts, current activity, and the state of cleanliness of their hindquarters.

That's okay. The washing can be forgotten for the sake of my two little kids.

But the other way around is not okay. If the washing caused me to forget to check that they are close by and safe, it could be very dangerous. Please God never let it happen. Please bring to my mind all the things I need to remember. Please.

I have heard a very few people speak slightingly of the mother, wondering how she could not know she'd forgotten the day-care run and left the baby in the car. But these comments have solely been from demographics that have never known the sheer overwhelmed-ness of a mother who has to feed, clothe, and keep happy a husband and one or more children. Perhaps look after a pet. Keep a home liveable. Somehow still manage to work outside the home or do volunteer work to make someone's life better or work on a home improvement project ... [the list goes on].

Overall, the comments I have heard from other Mums have been about how shocking this is, and how they can totally relate to being so busy and over-stressed that they forget things. Big things, embarrassing things, little things, silly things.

For me, life goes on. Admittedly, I am quite shocked at what happened this week and I am a little scared because I have seen my own memory fail me in lesser situations.

But for the mother who lost her baby this week, I ache. She lost a precious baby. It was her fault and I suspect she will never forgive herself. She has to stand in front of her family and friends and ask forgiveness. She will probably have to live through a lengthy investigation. And today she woke to another Mothers Day. I pray for her, that she might have the strength to go on.

If you are a praying person, please join with me in praying for her. If you don't pray, please spare a thought for her. I will pray also that God will prompt me to remember everything I need to remember, particularly when it comes to my kids. Let's all remember to keep our little ones close and safe, let's never be too busy to remember them.

Then after that I'll ask God if I may stop obsessing about this terrible thing. My heart cannot bear the heaviness.


Mil said...

The world needs to read what you write! Have you ever considered doing a column for the local paper or for a magazine? You have amazing insight and express your thoughts so well.

Givinya De Elba said...

Oh mil you make me feel humble. I'd love to write a column! But recently I've been posting here and not taking the time to tidy up the words. I've just been letting the language spill out onto the page without making the words & phrases sing beautifully.

This story however has had me in a knot. I am amazed that my ramblings here impressed you!

Thanks for your encouragement.