Wednesday in Mississippi, a busy, most likely frazzled, possibly sleep-deprived mom went to work just like any other day. But the tragic difference between that day and every other is that somehow, she forgot to drop her 2-year-old daughter off at day care. I am *guessing* that the child fell asleep on the way, didn’t make any noise, and her mother’s mind was on ALL the things she had to do that day, and that momentarily, she just forgot that her daughter was in the car. I am guessing about the falling asleep, because I am sure if her daughter had been awake and making noise, this tragedy never would have happened. But that’s just my theory. In any case, after a busy day of work, this mom went to her daughter’s day care to pick her up and was greeted by confused day care employees who said “You never dropped her off today, she’s not here.” According to the local sheriff, Randy Tucker, “They told the mother you didn’t drop her off this morning and the mother immediately became distraught, ran out to the car and realized the two year old was still in the car.”
She had been in the car in hot Mississippi for hours; it was far, far too late to save her daughter.
Can you IMAGINE the crushing grief this mother must feel? The sherriff went on to say “It looks like a tragic accident. I can’t see any way other than to look at it from that point based on what we know.”
I know all over the country indignant parents will scream “HOW COULD YOU FORGET YOUR CHILD?”
But I will not join them. Moms and dads, I don’t think for ONE MINUTE. That I am above it. Because I am also that busy, frazzled, sleep-deprived mom with 1,000 things on my mind. Every day I handle more than I can really handle. It is God’s grace that none of the balls I have dropped have been those that have tragic consequences.
When my son was an infant, back in 2004, I saw an episode of Oprah that scared the crap out of me. It was on exactly this subject, except the parent this time who had left his infant son in the car was a dad, not a mom. I watched him and his wife tell Oprah the tragic tale. His wife was so forgiving. Their message: we were the most LOVING of parents. It can happen to ANYONE.
As soon as my husband got home from work I sat him down and we had a serious talk about it. I knew, and I still know, that this kind of tragedy can happen to ANYONE. We all have to be on high alert to not let it! Our kids are all old enough now that it wouldn’t happen without their LOUD protests preventing a tragedy. But for the first year of my daughter’s life, when she barely slept and cried A LOT, when I had a 2-year-old to take care of as well, I am quite sure it could have happened to me.
A few months after I saw that Oprah show, this tragedy DID happen to someone I knew. It wasn’t a close friend, he had been an adult leader on a mission trip I took as a teenager. But I had friends who WERE close to him, and I knew, I KNEW that his children could not have asked for a more loving, caring, hands on dad. And yet. The day after he returned from an overseas mission trip, tired and jet lagged, he left his sleeping daughter in the car at the church where he worked AND where she attended day care. He thought he had taken her in and dropped her off. But when he went to pick her up—he was faced with the alarmed workers who said “She was never here.” He raced out to his car but it was too late for his daughter as well.
I cried and cried when I heard this. He was a wonderful parent. I am certainly no better.
It can happen to ANY of us. To me, to you, to our loved ones. And the number one thing you can do to prevent a tragedy like this in our own family, mamas and dads? Is BELIEVE THAT IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. The number one risk factor in this happening to you? Is believing that it CAN’T.
Let’s all pray for this Mississippi mama, for the child’s dad, for all the family members that are hurting. But especially that this mom can forgive herself and move on with a message that will save other kids’ lives. Praying so hard for you, sweet mama in Mississippi. With all my heart.