Tearing open the heart
I'm having trouble coming to terms with the enormity of the tragedy of the drowning death of the father and his two sons in Tathra, New South Wales. They were burried today in Bega, NSW.
Each time I hear or read the news of the event, I feel terribly troubled – almost in pain – to the extent that I don't allow myself to dwell too long on it, and the excruciating pain that must stem from such a tragedy. Today I'm facing it, otherwise it may haunt me.
I'm a very visual person, and I tend to visualise situations and events, particularly imagining how they may have unfolded. It's what I do, and it somehow meshes with the 'worse-case scenario' type of thinking I'm prone to.
From the reports, I understand that the father drowned after he jumped off the wharf to rescue his two young sons (four and 18 months) who had fallen in the water. The two boys also drowned. From an early report, police were investigating whether the older boy was playing with the pram his baby brother was in the minutes prior to their falling in. The three had gone for a walk on the wharf at Tathra, a popular holiday spot in New South Wales.
Part of my tendency to visualise and imagine the worst is that I also can't help but wonder how this could happen to my two boys and I. It could so easily have happened to any one of us. Kids fool around, big brothers (and sisters) often want a turn pushing their younger sibling in the pram. You take your eyes off them for a second to ask the fisherman on the wharf if the fish are biting. You hear shout or a splash, you panic, the terror rises up. You jump in. I would have, even though I cannot swim very well.
No, I don't feel any better having written this. I've imagined it yet again, and it hurts. But I've also been reminded that constant vigilance is a price for the joys of raising children and being parents. And this is in no way a suggestion that the dad at Tathra had not been vigilant. Not at all. I know exactly how quickly, and terribly easily, it could all come crashing down. That imagination feeds my paranoia when the kids are mucking about in places or situations I don't feel safe in or about.
I know that my feeling troubled at these events pales in comparison to the trauma and deep grief the family, especially the mother of the boys, and the wider community in Bega and Tathra are feeling. And will feel for a long time. The grief of losing a child, let alone two, and your lover, can tear open your heart. Especially when your memory of your partner is coloured by what happened to your children.
I know many, many people live with grief each and every day, and I've had my share of grief from death in the family, so I know that time will heal.
Honestly, though, if I had not been able to find them in the water, I don't know if I could have come back up to surface to face the enormity of the pain of it.
Vale, Shane, Riley and Travis. May you rest in peace.
[Image of the wharf at Tathra, NSW, by sophiec]