On December 9th at 11pm, Debbie was not to be seen. It wasn't like her to be late. She was one of the CNAs scheduled to work. But before I could find out what happened, someone blurted out the news. At 5:30 that afternoon, she was caught in traffic by the train tracks in her SUV with her two young sons aged 9 and 6 sleeping at the back, when the Amtrak train barrelled down on the car. The boys were instantly thrown off the vehicle and killed on the spot. Deborah was rushed to Duke, and survived. All that the witnesses could remember was an explosion and Debbie's screams.
My legs crumpled. A staff member fled to the bathroom and threw up.
Later that night, I gathered my staff in a circle and, holding hands, we offered individual prayers for the children's souls and for Deborah's peace of mind. Fourteen months ago, she had just lost her first-born son to a shooting incident, and before this recent event, was still visibly grieving.
I don't get it.
I don't get that we have to die in such a violent way, especially children - in which case, people are bound to point fingers. Why leave the living in anguish and pain? Debbie was heard to say later, "Somebody up there must really hate me."
I married late, and it took three years before I became pregnant. It was an ecstatic moment, more so knowing we were to have twins. But I miscarried at 13 weeks. They would have been the first grandkids on both sides, and the third generation of twins on my side, at least. We buried the placentas, but the memories lingered. I saw the pain in my mother's and my husband's eyes, which compounded my grief. I felt the burden of guilt and blamed myself for the longest time, even though I am a nurse, and knew better than to do so. My mind did, my heart didn't. Nobody blamed me, but I tormented myself.
Earlier this year, I was pregnant again, but lost the baby in June, at 6 weeks. Matthew wept and the memory of my 6-year-old clinging to my bosom wailing the loss of "my baby sister" (as he was sure it was a girl) continues to sting my heart. My husband cried a silent tear. "She" has a simple resting place by the tree behind the house.
I am comforted by the thought that we have three angels watching over us, and that the twins now have someone else to love, and they won't be so lonely. It takes a lot of explanation to Matthew, and I know I am not equipped. He is on a journey to knowing Jesus, while I keep on stumbling on my way to understanding Him.
Jesus died in the most violent of fashions. His disciples and the multitude of His followers were stricken. They felt horrified, and scared. And they also pointed fingers. They were guilt-ridden.
Debbie must feel the same wretchedness as the disciples, the same unworthiness, loneliness, and grief beyond all griefs at the untimely deaths of her sons, leaving her to bear the brunt of suffering. Fingers pointing her way must feel like a thousand daggers, even as her mind screams for mercy, and her heart wails for her loss.
I draw my analogies as I type, and so forgive my lame attempts.
One day, I hope to understand what I have written.
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