I’ve been struggling with this piece for a week now, knowing I need to write it, but it was a scary thing and I honestly don’t like thinking about it. But those very emotions are why I do need to share it.
Last Friday evening, as we were driving down the freeway, we found ourselves stuck in traffic that was worse than normal. As we continued on, I noticed that the other side had basically no traffic making me think there must be an accident on the eastbound lanes, while our westbound lanes were simply backed up because people were wanting to get their look at the accident. My thought was confirmed as eastbound traffic became absolutely zero.
As we rounded a curve, I could see two police vehicles parked on the eastbound side. I noticed a bunch of little yellow evidence markers and most of what remained of a motorcycle. And then I saw the sheet covered bump. As I could see the dark red stain spreading in several spots both on the sheet and on the road, it hit me, my 9-year-old daughter is sitting right behind me and about to see this.
Now I’ve seen bodies before. In real life, in classrooms, on TV, on the internet. Most of the worse were some of those I saw while writing about news coverage on the Syrian civil war. Some of those still haunt me. The worst wasn’t just a body, as it still belonged to a living being. What haunts me the most if the face of that guy in Florida who was attacked and his face was eaten off, yet somehow he still lived. They’re all stuff that TV shows and movies don’t quite capture the horror of.
That last paragraph was to express to you, my reader, that my seeing a body wasn’t scary to me. I’ve been there, and I’m a bit numb to it.
However, the thought of my 9-year-old seeing her first body was terrifying to me. I didn’t want it to happen. I honestly panicked a bit. I told her to “Look right, look right!” Luckily, my fear must not have been audible, as to her that meant there must be something cool to see to the right. She was mad at me for tricking her. But because of that, she didn’t see what lay on the other side of the freeway. She didn’t see the body lying in the road, with blood slowly spreading. She didn’t have a chunk of innocence stolen from her.
I don’t know if she would have understood what she saw, but she would have asked what it was. I’m not ready for that conversation. It’s not something I want to have. At some point, they’ll find out what a horrible place this world can be. But for as long as possible, I want to keep protecting my daughters from such things.