Cries in the night

“Where’s my mommy?” asked a little 2-1/2 year-old girl through tear-filled eyes and sobs. The grandmother, grandfather, and father wrestled with struggling emotions on how to tell and explain to the child her mother was with Jesus and that she would not see her again in this life.

As they struggled to tell her this, she responded by saying, “Tell Jesus to send her back.” Thus began the on-going explanation of her mother being with Jesus and of God.

They could not tell nor could the little girl comprehend that her mother was killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver, nor that not only was her mother killed but also the child she was carrying. The girl’s father was badly injured in the accident, and while he was recuperating, he graciously allowed the grandparents to care for the little girl.

Words cannot give justice as to how it tore a huge hole in the fabric of the family, forever altering the course of so many lives in the immediate family, in-laws, friends, and relatives–the dreams, hopes, memories dashed in a split-second, from what could have been to what never will be.

So, it goes for many of us when unexpected life experiences produce so many unintended consequences. We get caught up in the minutia of life, failing to see the big picture of savoring the immediate time together. We are often unaware, oblivious, as to how the unexpected, instantaneous curves in life affect and shape us.

To avoid serious, unintended consequences, we should begin our new year by taking the time to re-evaluate our driving decisions. Driving while texting, talking on cell phones, drinking, being under the influence of drugs, or when tired or exhausted are all choices that may impair or affect judgment. We should commit ourselves to eliminating these potentially hazardous driving habits in our lives. Doing this may have a tremendous positive impact on many lives, including our own.

Today, almost 50 years later, I can still remember those mournful cries in the night. As my eyes begin to well up with tears, I relive the past tragedy and ponder what might have been.

So, let us all make positive, meaningful choices in our lives this year and have a wonderful and blessed New Year of 2017!

Dan Paul is a retired school administrator. His monthly columns explore family and professional relationships. Archived articles may be accessed at