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Opinion | Family

Asking Why After a Child's Accidental Death

Perhaps the most we're able to say this side of heaven is that a child's death doesn't make sense.

Every night in the summertime, I fall asleep with fears of cars and water. I'm not a particularly anxious mother. I don't worry about germs. I'm pretty relaxed about the possibility of injury on a playground. But it takes every spiritual and emotional resource I have to avoid playing out my most terrifying scenarios—of Marilee, 18 months old, running away from me into the road just as a truck pulling a boat turns the same corner … of Penny, 6, thinking she really can swim all the way to the raft even though Mom said to wait … of William, 4, chasing the ball into the street and forgetting, just once forgetting, to look both ways.

I try to avoid reading or listening to news about the accidental deaths of children, and yet these tragedies sear themselves upon my memory. I can't forget the story of a friend of a friend whose youngest son wandered upstairs, turned on the bath water, and drowned. Or the woman at church whose brother backed the car out of the driveway and killed ...

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