I read a post this morning, by J.A. Allen, that mentioned her son goes to school with a boy that recently lost his mother to a tragic car accident. Although this person was a stranger to her, it affected her in ways she didn’t expect. This touched me, because a similar event occurred in our lives recently.
We moved states this last summer. My 5th grader had her circle of friends that was sad to leave. For the most part, a few of the girls we knew well and did activities with their families regularly. However, there were a couple girls we didn’t know personally, but knew of them and who they were.
After we left, our family best friends, their daughter quickly became best friends with one of those girls, Shelby. My daughter and Shelby were never close, but again they all played together on the playground. I would see facebook posts of our old besties going out and doing things with their new besties.
Shelby’s mom is a 4th grade teacher at the school we just left. Even my older son knows of this teacher. Just 3 weeks ago, I got on Facebook and saw a post on my old besties time line that Shelby went home on Friday, went to sleep, and never woke up Saturday! She was only 11-years-old.
Although we didn’t know these people personally, and neither of my children had Mrs. Portnoff as their 4th grade teacher, it has touched all of us in ways we hadn’t thought it would. It was difficult to tell our daughter. And our heart aches for our besties, Stephanie and Madison, that were hanging out with Shelby quite frequently. These poor girls started 6th grade, first loosing my daughter to moving, and then another friend to an unexplained death. Saying “see you later” on Friday after school, and a few short days later, to not having her there on Monday.
They have no idea why Shelby died and the family is currently undergoing genetic testing, etc. They have another 10 year old child. I can’t imagine the parents ever sleeping again until they have answers, what if their other loved ones don’t wake?
We donated to the gofund me account, and carefully wrote our condolences, a sincere message from our daughter to their family. And the next couple of nights, I quietly stood over my children sleeping. Looking intently and ensuring their chests/sides were expanding with breath and lowering with release as they breathed. Praying, and asking God to ensure all was well in their bodies and they would wake like they were supposed to and start their days! To my 14-year-old son’s dismay, I gave them extra hugs. (what the heck, mom) Meanwhile, my daughter would come back for “one more hug, momma.” Which quickly reminded me, just in December, another family we knew (with kids our kids ages), their mom passed away in her sleep from a heart attack. My daughter was probably worried about me too.
I understand J.A.’s post, It’s impossible to not think of your own family during times like these, and easily imagine the “what if” scenario. What if this happens to us? I’m sure Shelby’s family never even thought death during sleep was a possibility for their healthy 11-year-old.
I pray these parents and sibling can get a full-night’s sleep again, because I’m sure they aren’t, not without anxiety. I hope they get answers so they don’t live in fear of this happening to another loved one.