Posted November 22, 2006 7:16 a.m. EST
When my oldest daughter was a baby she became critically ill and almost died. I remember the feeling I had in the emergency room like it was yesterday. It was like I was standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon watching her slip over the edge, and I was holding onto her little hand as tightly as I could, trying to keep her from falling. I remember thinking that if she did slip, there was no way I could go on. It's a feeling I don't wish on any parent, but once you have had it, you never forget it. In a moment, I can summon up that raw emotion, transport myself back to that crib in the WakeMed intensive Care Unit that I climbed into and cradled my sick child.
This is what I think about every time I interview the parent who has lost a child.
This week I talked to the mother of a 23-year-old who cheated death once only to be killed by a person police say was a drunk driver the following year. In the first incident he was in a car with friends when someone shot at the car in apparent road rage incident. He was shot in the face and miraculously survived, but had a long, painful recovery. His mother said as painful as that incident was, she would give anything to be back in that position rather than where she is sitting today. On September 7th her son was hit and killed as he was crossing Capital Boulevard. The reality of the loss is just now sinking in.
"We've lost a son," she said to me blinking back tears. It's a pain not even I can imagine, even as a parent, even as someone who has experienced the near-loss of a child. But I intend to try.