The tragic answer: just about anybody.
Belkin points her readers to an absolutely gut-wrenching yet amazingly compassionate feature story in last weekend's Washington Post magazine by reporter Gene Weingarten (who apparently usually writes on more humourous subjects).
As Belkin says: "The moral of his story: don’t judge; it really could happen to you."
You may not have left a child in a car, but if you're reading my blog, you have probably known grief and loss in some form, either through infertility, or pregnancy loss, or perhaps both. There is much in the grief felt by these parents that will sound familiar to you. (And there are infertility angles to the stories told too -- as well as an ending that left me sitting in my chair, staring at the screen, going, "Wow.")
Weingarten writes about the vitriolic public reaction to such stories. While few of us in the ALI community have been judged quite so harshly, there was something in this psychologist's explanation that sounded very familiar to me too:
Humans, Hickling said, have a fundamental need to create and maintain a narrative for their lives in which the universe is not implacable and heartless, that terrible things do not happen at random, and that catastrophe can be avoided if you are vigilant and responsible.There are video and audio features, as well as tips on how to help prevent such a tragedy from happening.
..."We are vulnerable, but we don't want to be reminded of that. We want to believe that the world is understandable and controllable and unthreatening, that if we follow the rules, we'll be okay. So, when this kind of thing happens to other people, we need to put them in a different category from us. We don't want to resemble them, and the fact that we might is too terrifying to deal with…"
I had trouble accessing the comments, but I understand there were some scathing ones there...
And here's the transcript of an online discussion with the reporter, who says this was the most difficult story he's ever had to write -- in part because it could easily have happened to him.
Aside from the usual vitriolic comments from people blaming the parents, I think what bothered me me most was how many people said they just couldn't read the story. (Actually, what REALLY bothered me most were those who said they couldn't read stories like this "since becoming a parent" -- as if being a parent somehow grants them a special kind of immunity.)(There's that need not to be reminded about vulnerability again…)
I've heard similar coments about stillbirth & loss stories. It's so easy for others to avert their eyes… but some of us have to live with these sad stories every single day of our lives...