Our much-loved, twenty-two year old son, David, had been killed in a car crash.
Following initial disbelief (many of the sketchy details we were given seemed unbelievable and turned out to be very wrong), we were hit by a tsunami whose force we still feel today. The details of David’s death are simple: He, and four other students had accepted a lift from a friend they trusted and that trust led two of them, along with a girl in an oncoming car, to their deaths.
When something like this happens, the old ‘phrases of comfort’ are re-cycled, mainly because people have no idea what to say. Perhaps the most idiotic is “Time is a great healer”. In truth time does not heal when you lose a child. Rather, I suspect, like re-learning to walk after an amputation, you re-learn to smile or even laugh while inside you remain as hollow as a chocolate Santa. Julia Gillard, the Australian Premier, summed up such loss in her speech at the tenth anniversary for those killed in the Bali bombings. She said: “… wounds and scars abound, healed and unhealed. But nothing can replace that empty seat at your family table, the graduations and christenings you will never know. And the fault line that will always divide your lives into two halves: ‘before’ and ‘after’…”
There are two things I’d like you to do:
First of all I’d like you to give any teenager or young person that you know a simple piece of advice that may just end up saving their lives: If they are in a car and not happy with the way it is being driven or they suspect the driver may have been drinking or is stoned, say: “I think I’m going to be sick”. This may mean a long walk home, but it’s better than not reaching home at all.
Secondly I want you to ring, text, Skype, Facebook, MSN (or better still the old-fashioned face to face), your child (or anyone who is very precious to you) and say two words: “Love You”. These are the last two words I ever said to my son. How I wish I could utter them again, so I’m asking you to do it. Not for me, not for David, but for you.
© Baldock Bard 2013
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