The Right Coast

December 01, 2005
A tragedy
By Tom Smith

As this story relates, a little girl was hit by a van yesterday when she darted out into the street. She received massive injuries and is not expected to live. What is not mentioned is that my wife Jeanne was the first doctor on the scene, since it occured right outside her office. Everyone was shaken by the incident, and one can only imagine the grief of the parents and family and pray for them. I will leave out more of the details, beyond saying while the paramedics were great, and most people behaved well, it was a horrible accident. Jeanne said the 9 year old girl was small for her age, and beautiful.

It brought back to mind a moment last summer when our now 12 year old Patrick darted in front of a car in New Canaan, Connecticut, which managed to stop in time. He was running to get the seat he wanted in the car. He got a good talking to at the time, and another one last night. One of the few times I was spanked as a child (and these were real, old fashioned spankings) was when I ran in front of a car in our neighborhood.

What is there to say or do. You realize how precious and uncertain life is, you realize again your happiness and even sanity are hostages to the destinies of the people you love. I know I would much rather be the target of a well aimed bullet than go through what that girl's mother is going through, or any bullet for that matter. The stoics said you should care no more about losing a loved one than dropping a plate. Easy enough to say. Closer to the truth, as one neighborhood mom put it, is that having a child is like taking your heart out of your body and letting it run around. And sometimes it runs out into the street.