oh, my heart. i pretty much sobbed throughout this entire book. i remember when this tragedy happened - in 2009, a mother lost her three daughters (and sister in law and niece) in a car accident after the girls spent a weekend camping with their aunt, uncle, and cousins. later, shocking toxicology reports revealed that the aunt had been driving the girls while drunk twice the legal limit and high on pot.
it got national attention, obviously, because can you even imagine?! it certainly got my attention, as my three boys were spaced in age exactly the same as the little girls. The oldest girl, Emma, was 8. Alyson, 7 and Katie, 5. Triston just turned 9 in March, so I just recently had kids these same ages so maybe that is why I could identify so strongly with this story and this mother, Jackie Hance.
The mother gives a horrifying account of the tragedy - her oldest daughter calling her from the backseat, sobbing, saying something is wrong with her aunt, Diane - and then a harrowing account of the disabling grief that followed the deaths of her daughters for herself and her husband and coping with the shocking truths about her sister in law. i can't even imagine.
it's every parent's worst nightmare. Jackie Hance was a stay at home mom, taking her daughters to practices and activities, planning fun things to do in the summer and having at least one kiddo behind her every step she took. the life she describes mirrors my own so very much and i took to heart what she thought and wrote in response to a well-meaning stranger that approached her and said that she doesn't know how she is moving on, that she herself, just couldn't do it. Hance writes,
"Never had admiration been so misplaced. She saw me as some hard-shelled other who had been chosen for tragedy because I could cope with it. But I was just another mom, exactly like her. I didn't want to go on. I still thought of killing myself every day... I had no maps or guideposts. Nobody had written a book I could read on how to behave. I was simply an ordinary woman thrust into a situation far outside what any of us expect or imagine. You are me, I wanted to tell her. I am you. This could happen to any of us"
It. Could. Happen. To. Any. Of. Us.
I'm only half way through the book, but it is extraordinary. This woman's account and story has been an inspiration to me. She writes a lot of her friends and family and community that rallied around her and her husband, she talks of fond memories of her children, of keeping their spirit alive, and moving forward after unspeakable tragedy.
tragedy strikes so randomly. if this book has inspired me to do anything, it's to bear a better record of my own kiddos and this season of life. i so often forget to write down the fun stuff, the little day to day happenings, the silly arguments between brothers, the way nash gets excited to see a bird or squirrel on our back porch or the way he talks back to mickey mouse while watching the show, the way triston kisses nash on the cheek as soon as he gets in the car from school and asks how his day was, jackson's silliness (and how cute it is right now that he wants to grow his hair out - even though it is driving me nuts!) and things like how bryce will change into pajamas as soon as we get home from anywhere. this story reminds me not to take time for granted and to stop complaining when we have to go to baseball for the 4th or 5th time in a week. it's time spent with the kids doing something they enjoy.
and the sense of community and compassion from friends and strangers alike! amazing.
read this. you will not be disappointed.
hance family foundation found here.