Every Parent’s Worst Fear

If you’ve been anywhere near newspapers the past week or so you can’t have failed to have noticed the untimely deaths of many young people. I wrote only a few posts back about the sister of Missy’s best friend, killed as she deliberately ran into traffic on a busy interstate.

You have perhaps read of the gap year students killed in Thailand, the father of one saying  ‘I am absolutely devastated. I did not know human bodies could produce so many tears. It is such an intense pain that will never go away.’

You may have noticed a small headline tucked away this morning reading ‘British climbers fall to deaths in French Alps‘. This story is devastating for us as we received a phone call from the parents of one of the climbers yesterday morning, two of our oldest, closest and dearest friends.

I know what the news has done to us and it’s nothing compared to the agony they and their two other sons are enduring, as they wait for the return of their beloved youngest son and brother, flying home today.

To answer the phone and hear the broken, heart-rending keening of a mother telling you her child is dead breaks something inside the soul of every mother. It is not how things are supposed to be and we pray it will never happen to our family, our friends, but we know it will happen to someone.

I don’t need to outline the thoughts of what can never be for this family now one of them is no longer there. We all have those thoughts in our heads during awful times when children are injured or ill, the paralysing fears of what life would be without them.

Then children become adults, make their own choices have their own lives. In this case the choices were always good. Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, hockey player for Yorkshire, talented musician, skydiver, a trip to South America at 17 to help others, paid for out of money earned himself. A gap year working to earn money to go back to South America with his (slightly older) twin brother to climb in the Andes.

A return to the UK and university with every moment spent getting money together to head each summer to Chamonix and Mont Blanc. He has climbed there the last three summers and trained as a climbing instructor. Fit, healthy, loving life. This summer extra-special; final exams done, his life ahead of him as a Phyiotherapist.

This was someone who lived more in his short life than many who are decades older. He took life by the horns, lived his dreams and challenged himself, always. He was happy, energetic and engaged. I know because I first saw him at a few days old and watched him grow alongside my own children.

Our families have vacationed together and the twins on the last two have taken Harry and hiked up mountains, down gorges and shared the passion of their lives with him in both the US and Europe. They have been, and still are, Harry’s heroes.

Today tributes are filling his Facebook page from friends all over the world. I hope one day his parents will read them and see him through the eyes of his peers; a fantastic friend, a team player, empathetic, caring and fun.

I hope one day, many, many tears from now, our friends will take comfort from knowing their son died doing the thing he loved most, but not now, not anytime soon.

Now is the dark time, the bleakest days they will ever experience, a living nightmare, when each brief, exhausted moment of sleep will be followed by the waking and realisation all over again, that their child is gone.

As George Mallory said: “The greatest danger in life is not to take the adventure”. A noble thought for the individual but I’m not sure if, today, I can agree. All I can think of is my friends’ grief, pain and loss and know there is nothing I can do to ease it except walk with them through the darkness in honour of their son.

Mont Blanc : In Memorium

About wordgeyser

Our anglo/american family used to live in four countries (USA, Canada, UK and the Netherlands) on two continents, separated by distance, time zones, circumstance and cultures. It has been a scary, enriching, challenging place to be. The only things guaranteed to get us through were a sense of humour and the amazing people met along the way. . . This year everything changed with a move for us from the Netherlands, – and a move along with us for our son and his wife from the UK – to Houston, Texas, the same city as our daughter. With our youngest in Vancouver, Canada, we are now all living on the same continent. How this happened, and more importantly why, will be the subject of this ongoing blog...
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5 Responses to Every Parent’s Worst Fear

  1. Eyes tearing up in the first paragraph, tears rolling down cheeks by the second, sobbing by the end. It truly IS every parents’ nightmare; we shouldn’t outlive our children. Your friends will receive some level of comfort from your presence in their lives, even if it may not register for months or even years to come. Anyone who can raise such adventurous, caring children will one day be able to look at their son’s accomplishments and the outpouring of love and admiration and know that he did indeed live life to the fullest. In the meantime, I for one am glad you are there for them.

  2. sarah koblow says:

    powerful, heart tearing wise words and my heart breaks with you, for you and your friends. What a blessing you will be for them all, a soul friend who will make all the difference and bring light and love into the darkest night of a families soul.

  3. rosemary says:

    Jane I am so sorry to read this, my thoughts are with you and your friends at this time.

  4. I am so sorry for your friends. No parent should have to plan a funeral for their child,,,, ever.

  5. Jane says:

    Powerful words with great sympathetic insight into these tragic losses.
    Thinking of you and your friends….

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