Timing, Tragedy, and Dump Trucks

For reasons that may not seem entirely logical, the murders last week in a Colorado movie theatre took me back to something that happened on a Saturday morning in July a few years ago.

I was driving my then-middle & elementary school daughters to their swim meet when a dump truck pulled out just in front of us onto the winding, semi-rural road we were traveling, and I was less than thrilled; I believe my exact words were, “Aw, come on!”  One of the girls asked, “What’s wrong?” and I said, “Nothing–but if we had been 10 seconds earlier, we wouldn’t be following that dump truck.  It’s fine–we’ll be at the pool in plenty of time for warmups.”  We went from making good time to an absolute crawl, but that was no big deal.

About a mile later, we came upon an accident.  The dump truck stopped and the driver ran over to see if he could help.  My girls were sitting in the back seat and they did not notice anything as we approached, so the dump truck that had seemed like such an inconvenience turned out to be a blessing:  When I pulled up behind the truck it became a wall between my kids and the accident.

I told the girls, “I’ll be right back–Stay in the car,” got out, realized we were all first on the scene of an accident that had happened only a minute or two before, and called 911 on my cell.  In a few minutes, help arrived from the firehouse less than 2 miles further up the road, and after I answered a police officer’s questions we made a u-turn to find an open route to the swim meet and to go on with our day.

The girls never saw the woman who was lying motionless on the ground.  They never saw her shoe in the road about 10 feet away from her.  They never saw the horse that was trotting around loose in the field beside the road.  They never saw the teen driver pacing back and forth, looking at the person on the ground beside his car, then stalking away a few feet, then returning, struggling with the sight of what had happened.  They had no way to know that the victim had been walking her horse across the road when the teen’s car struck and killed her.

Arriving at the same place & time that morning, a woman died and a teenager’s life was scarred–There is no minimizing any of that.  But because of a difference of about 10 seconds on the same morning, I was able to talk to the girls about the accident on my own terms over the next day or two, and they will never have the scene that was happening in front of the dump truck as a sad and frightening memory.

Like most parents, when I heard about the Colorado murders I thought about my kids’ safety.  I also thought about the fact that as they get older they become more and more aware of news from our local community and from the world beyond.  And there are no dump trucks to keep them from seeing dark things when they happen.



Filed under Appreciation, Tragedy

6 Responses to Timing, Tragedy, and Dump Trucks

  1. Tried explaining it to my 6 and 9 year olds. It’s difficult. “Why?” There are times that question, as irritating as it is when they are toddlers, just doesn’t get easier to answer.

  2. Great post. There are a lot of parents struggling with whether to discuss the Colorado shooting with their kids. I’m in Canada and my kids are too young to have heard about it, so, thankfully, I don’t have to deal with this kind of thing just yet. In a way, their age is like a proverbial dump truck. I love how you recognized those moments in your morning for how annoying and how much of a blessing they were. It’s great when we can help shield our kids little bit and help them understand things on our own terms.

  3. Beautiful post about something so sad and so true. There are so many things in this world that don’t make sense. My stepkids are 8 and 11 and they are reaching the age when their minds can wrap around the grey areas of life… which is a marvelous milestone in growing up, but also the moment when their innocence begins to fade. It’s a tough stage in parenting. I live near an old Air Force base that was only used in WWII, so you can imagine that in every park there is a memorial to one troop or regiment or another and their service in WWII. My stepkids couldn’t take it any longer, each little piece they discovered about the history of that dreadful war brought on more questions until finally my husband and I couldn’t avoid talking to them about it anymore. It was a difficult conversation, to say the least, filled with questions that couldn’t be answered. My 8yo left the conversation confused, unable to fully grasp it all, but my 11yo understood (well, as much as anyone can understand that horrid war) and was genuinely moved, bless her heart. There aren’t always dump trucks to protect them, barriers to shield them from the darkness in the world, but I guess that’s why we have to work so hard, as parents, to help our kids’ inner light shine, right? Again, excellent post about something all parents have to face and accept at some point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *