Friends and I were talking the other day about Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old shooting victim who was killed in the Tucson Safeway grocery store by the Tucson shooter. John and Rosanna Green have been criticized for appearing on Dateline 24 hours after their daughter’s death. They have also been on Fox News and talked to USA Today. One criticism they have faced over and over is how calm and collected they appear. This criticism made me think back to all the could have, should have, would haves that kept me awake at night following Joe’s death.
When Joe died, I raced outside to call the ambulance. My cell phone would not work, and our home phone was not charged. Did neighbors peeking out their windows later recall how calmly I dialed the phone? Or did anyone notice my hands were shaking so violently I could not hit the buttons and my teeth had begun to chatter?
Joe rode in the ambulance alone. I drove myself to the hospital insisting to the paramedics I would need my car to pick up my son from school. I drove, parked, and raced into the emergency room. Did the paramedics wonder why I did not ride with Joe? I have … over and over.
When the doctors told me Joe had died, the only thing I could think to do was ask for a glass of water. I was not thirsty, but I felt the need to do something. I remember feeling devastating calm as I watched the room crumble around me. I cried, but I was not hysterical.
Joe was lying on a gurney in examining room. I walked in, sat beside him for a minute and said I was going home. My brother-in-law drove me home. I let out my dogs, picked Joe’s glasses up off the bathroom floor, and sat on my couch holding his glasses, wondering what exactly I should do next. I called and canceled a school potluck. Was it Odd that I just left the hospital, left Joe, left Joe’s family that was just arriving, left all the details? I have asked myself that same question many, many times. How could I just walk off and leave Joe? These thoughts kept me up at night. In fact, they still sometimes do.
Cole was at school the morning Joe died. He had been training for weeks for a second round of travel soccer try-outs, and the try-outs were that night. I did not even consider bringing him home from school or having him miss the try-outs. I arranged for a good friend to make sure he was picked up from school and taken to try-outs and then brought home. Should I have brought Cole home immediately? This has been such a hard one for me. When I finally determined, in retrospect, that I’d made that decision because I just could not bear to tell him one minute sooner than I had to, I let go of the guilt.
At 12 midnight the night Joe died, with my son’s head resting in my lap, I logged on to Facebook. I answered messages and reassured Cole’s classmates and my friends that we were okay. Okay. Really? I was calm, and sometimes even funny. This must have seemed Odd to at least a few people.
Three days after Joe died, I cleaned the garage, joking that Joe had always said the only way I would ever be allowed to clean the garage was over his dead body. I wanted his memorial at our home. We needed the garage space in order to have this happen, so we cleaned the garage.
The day after Joe’s memorial, Cole and I left on an eight-day trip to Italy. We had planned the trip for a year, and I promised Cole we would go the night I told him his dad died. Three cities, eight days, and two weeks after Joe died, we went. It never occurred to me question if we should go.
When we came home from Italy, I began to blog about our experiences surrounding Joe’s death. Talking about Joe was all Cole and I had left. Could that have been why the Greens went on Dateline to talk about their daughter, a nine-year-old who loved ballet, baseball, and horseback riding? They needed to share about the little girl they describe as “the best daughter in the world.”
In the year and a half since Joe died, I have questioned every single moment of how I handled the details surrounding his death, analyzing each should have, could have, and would have. Fortunately, I have been surrounded by family and friends who have reassured me every step of the way that I made the best possible decisions I could at the time. Yet, I sometimes wonder if I will ever stop replaying the events of June 2, 2009, trying to make sense of a moment in time that remains utterly senseless. I still have frequent moments of thinking, “How could this have happened?”
In the agonizing days ahead, the Greens will be their own harshest critics and question every single moment leading up to and following their daughter’s death. My hope is, as observers, we will show only compassion to this family suffering the unimaginable loss of their daughter, and to allow them the opportunity to talk about their daughter, share her story and keep her alive in any way that brings them comfort and peace.
It’s the best we can do.
Do you sometimes live in hindsight?
Links you might Love
Soap Opera Merrilymarylee’s rarely fails to amuse me but this blog post is one of my favorites. Why? Because it could so happen to me!
The Word 1111 I have a friend that walked on fire….(I just love saying that….click the link and read Rachel’s story)
A very Cool bubble video Cole thinks I should share this with you and I have to admit it popped a lot of myths I had about bubbles.