Your child has possibly been killed, please come and identify the body. They are the most incomprehensible words a parent could ever hear, ones most of us surely try to push away when we hear tragic stories like the 22 children who were killed in a bus crash in Switzerland overnight. As investigators figure out the how and why, as two schools mourn the death of beloved teachers and classmates, the parents of those 12-year-olds are in a private hell. Not just because their child has probably died, but also because many are flying by private military plane to the accident far from their home. Process that for a minute ... they can't run to their baby's side right now -- they actually have to take mass transit to get to them.
Excruciatingly painful hours, minutes, and seconds before they can touch, feel, and hold their child for one last time.
If I were one of those parents right now, I would pray for my plane to crash.
This horrific accident summons the story of an acquaintance whose daughter was killed by a car while on summer vacation with her father. The mother was a few hours drive away at home, shopping. When the call came that her daughter had died, she was in a mall of all places. Please come right away. Well, she couldn't get there right away. She had to drive several hours and I can't imagine how I would have been able to keep my heart beating and my brain from caving in on itself from grief and despair for that long.
I can't believe one's body or mind could continue to function in those circumstances, but apparently they do, because the parents of those 22 children are flying to the accident site to identify their children's bodies. Just days earlier they were helping their children pack parkas, long underwear, hats, and other cold-weather gear needed for a ski trips in the Swiss Alps. The bus was just out of the resort parking lot a few minutes when it hit a curb and crashed into the wall of a roadway tunnel, killing 28 people, most of them children.
Even after the initial shock and services, what happens after? How do these parents begin to go through their children's suitcases, knowing their child's little hands were the last ones to pack those clothes? What do you do with the toothbrushes that last touched their sweet little mouths? How do you come to grips that you won't be able to ask your child, Did you have fun? What was your favorite part of the trip? Or any other question ever again?
There are no answers to any of these questions, and right now the only one I can really think to ask is why? Why.
What is going through your mind right now as a parent hearing about this terrible, terrible tragedy?