(handling the loss of a young child)
It is perhaps life’s greatest tragedy; to lose one’s own child. As hard as that can be at any age, it is perhaps even more tragic when they are lost when very young, when they “didn’t even get the chance to live their life” (as the sweet mother I interviewed for this particular column told me).
Nicole Hughes (the mother) is an amazing soul. I have never met her husband, but I can assure you that he is, too. The reason I can be so sure is due to an old adage of mine, that has proven true over my decades of teaching countless children; when you know a child, you also know their parents.
I know. I know. That adage is not 100% true 100% of the time. But in the case of this particular family, I have no doubt it is. Nicole (mom) has hiked with me, along with two of her daughters, on the trails at Sugar Hollow Park - over the past two summers - on nature hikes I have led for St. Anne School (an astoundingly wonderful private Catholic school here in Bristol).
Levi was his name - Nicole’s child who passed away at only 3 years old. So full of love and adventure, I am told. Levi was, by all accounts, an exuberantly happy and joyously full-of-life little boy.
Levi drowned while on a family vacation. I won’t go into all the drama of the details here, as they are unnecessary to the greater meaning of this story. Let it suffice to be said that the family was all there, as were other friends. All loved Levi. All did their best in their protection of him. And they all tried valiantly to do what they could to save him.
But sometimes fate intervenes and things happen that we cannot possibly fully understand; no matter how often we go back and replay in our minds what we think we might have done differently.
It is a fact that the leading cause of death for all children ages 1-4 in the United States is drowning. Not cars. Not guns. But drowning.
Toddler drowning can, and does, happen in a flash. And it doesn’t usually happen when everyone is around the pool watching. It usually happens during a time of transition, when the family is moving from doing one thing to another. People can be highly observant and consciously vigilant in their intent to protect their beloved children - and a tragic drowning accident can still happen.
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