It was a freak accident in the truest sense. Last Thursday 6-year-old Jala Johnson had managed to finagle some candy from her grandmother. Being a sweet and generous girl, she went outside to find her 15-year-old brother so she could share some of it with him. Only she was never able to do so.
Instead, The Columbus Dispatch reports that as she was walking through her grandmother's yard a large oak tree fell on her, and she was killed instantly. Just like that. There were no goodbyes, no final words, just a young life gone in an instant. My heart aches for her family who is preparing to bury her Friday.
It's stories like this that take my breath away, and could paralyze me with fear. But they also make me vow to be a better parent and make each precious moment with my children count, since we really can't count on anything when it comes to tragedy striking.
Especially now that school is back in session, and dance lessons have started again, and the baseball season is beginning, and an endless stream of other commitments gets underway, I feel the stress rising. I feel the laid back summer mom I was slowly getting lost under a sea of homework and laundry trying to keep those damn white uniform shirts clean.
But what does any of it really matter when things like this happen? Of course we can't throw all order and caution to the wind because of what might happen, what rarely happens, but it does make that little refrain of what if a little louder in my head. What if my child wasn't here tomorrow, would it matter that he went to school in a perfectly white shirt because I tackled those stains with vigor instead of sitting down and playing a game with him? Is it really that big of a deal if we miss a dance lesson here or there because we're just happy curled up on the couch?
There are a thousand different parenting decisions we make every day, and we won't always make the right ones. Sometimes we have to plan for the future instead of always living in the moment. But with thoughts of little Jala Johnson in my mind, I'm renewing my vow to make more decisions that I won't regret if one of those what ifs becomes a what is.
Do freak accidents like this make you rethink the way you parent your children?
Image via ell brown/Flickr