____________________________________ Could Never Happen to Me

It’s that time of year again. The sun is out and the temperature is rising. Many of us live for this time of year. I love me some good summer like weather!

Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year that can be down right dangerous when a pet or child is left in a vehicle. The temperature inside a car can raise to 160 degrees in ten minutes when it’s “just” 90 outside! (Source: Accuweather) On a sunny, but cool day, the temperature inside a car can be 100  degrees, even when it’s “only” 60 outside.

Every year, there are people who purposely leave their kids or pets in cars. I do not understand this.

On the other hand, there are many people who forget their child is in their vehicle. It seems inconceivable. It’s the opposite of understandable. Many of us think “that could NEVER happen to me. NEVER.” No ifs. No ands. No buts. No grace. Who wants to think that they COULD make a horrific mistake that could result in the loss of life of their most precious offspring?

Everyone has something that they think couldn’t happen to them. My husband thinks that we could never get divorced. I tend to agree with him, but I also know that there are a lot of divorced people out there. There is no way that most of them said “oh, yeah, I could get divorced someday”. I am quite positive that they fell into the “that would never happen to us” camp. My parents could have never predicted that someday they would lose a child, but they did. Who wants to think about all the bad things that could happen?

You think it can’t happen to you or won’t happen to you, until it does. Then you get it.

It was a pretty mild, but warm day. This must have been 7 or 8 years ago. The day started off terribly. I had walked out into the garage and discovered that the freezer door had been left open. While we were able to salvage some of its contents, we weren’t able to save it all. As a single income family, it’s devastating to lose your stockpile and not know how you will ever find the money to replace it. My family and I headed to my parents’ house. Good ol’ mom always came through for us when we were in a bind and that day was no exception. She loaded us up with replacement meat. She also suggested that we head up to the local Safeway to see what kind of deals and clearance they had. I thought it was a great idea.

My oldest daughter, son and youngest daughter were going to stay behind with my dad and husband. My middle daughter, my mom, and I got in our van and were heading out to the store when my husband came out with the youngest. “She wants to go with you”, he said. He strapped her into her seat and we left. It was a short drive. My mom and I talked, as we always do. We got  to the store, my oldest daughter and mom got out of our van and I locked the doors and started walking to the store. My mom said “Aren’t you going to get the baby?” I looked at her, confused, and said “What baby?” My older daughter said “Piper! She’s in the car”.

Oh my God. I could not believe that I had forgotten she was in the car. I couldn’t believe that I almost walked off without her. I couldn’t imagine how the same situation would have played out if my mom and daughter had not been with me. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt over what did happen and what could have happened.

I didn’t forget that she was in the car because she is less important to me than other things. I didn’t forget her because I am a negligent parent. I forgot because I was distracted by the freezer fiasco. I forgot because I was not the one that had loaded her into her car seat. I forgot because I am human and humans forget.

You may think it could never happen to you and I hope it never does. It is not a good feeling to lay in bed and think about what could have happened. You may think I am a terrible parent. If it makes you feel better to think that, I won’t stop you and I won’t defend myself. I know myself. I know that I am human, and I am far from terrible, but I can not prove that to you.

I can not imagine being the parent that loses a child, because of a mistake they made. I can’t imagine the grief, the despair, and the life long punishment they will endure. When it is proven that a child was left in a car purposely, I am shocked and disgusted. I don’t understand how you can consciously make a choice to harm another human, especially one that comes from your body or your heart. But when a parent has truly, truly forgotten. I only feel compassion. Nothing anyone can say can make them feel any worse than how they already feel. The judgement you heap on them? They are already doing it to themselves. The hateful words you say? They’ve probably said them a hundred times to themselves. They don’t need our contempt.

You can continue to think these things won’t happen to you, but only until it does.