Family tragedy around Christmas

Coping with loss is never easy, especially around Christmas. I know exactly how this feels. What is it about December that seems to bring boundless joy for some and the depths of despair for others? It probably has heaps to do with the quality of year experienced – and a family tragedy definitely counts towards maligning Christmas. Here’s a coincidental and strange moment that I have to share without hopefully, intruding on one family’s grief.

The day before the family tragedy

Tuesday 3 December 2013:

I turn down the same road on the way home as per usual. The child’s in her car seat in the back. The only unusual thing is the time. At 4:30, we are 30 minutes earlier than normal.

I absentmindedly glance at the house on the corner where I never see anyone.

Not today.

For the first time in eight years I see two little boys. And they stare back silently as we go by. No smiling, no waving, expressionless.

The Fire

Wednesday 4 December 2013:

We’re driving past the same house. Only this time we see scores of people in the street. And police tape. I see scorch marks all around the house. I fear the worst. When we get home my husband says it’s probably nothing, they’re most likely “just investigating the fire”.

But it wasn’t nothing.

The two little boys I’d seen the day before were six and four. The four year old died in that fire. Somehow I was meant to drive past and see him and his brother the day before The Fire. Solemnly staring at the car.

Rest in peace, little one…

Every day spent alive never ceases to bring home how fleeting it all is. So hug your disobedient child. Be kind to that irritating parent. Call that pain-in-the-ass sibling and appreciate that moody spouse. You never know what tomorrow will bring. It shouldn’t take a family tragedy around Christmas or any other month of the year to force you to wake up.

local newspaper article in Afrikaans on the family tragedy