Heartbreak at Christmas
By Beverly Hicks Burch
There must have been an almost deafening silence after an explosion and collision of sounds of metal grinding against metal, glass shattering and tires squealing. And in the aftermath of that collision one little angel laid thrown from the mangled vehicle and the other was battered and bruised inside with the lifeless body of her once vibrant and adoring mother.
What happened…how could this happen? These were the questions I asked myself Friday afternoon after I took a phone call from my little Momma. I could tell by the sound of her voice that something was amiss.
She had called earlier in the day with the news that the Christmas Day order from Honeybaked Ham had arrived totally wrong and mismatched with what she and Daddy had ordered. On top of that Honeybaked had no intentions of rectifying the wrong. So, the family network had to go into gear to put Christmas dinner back on track.
But, this call was different… T & H and I were downstairs working, unpacking trying to get that space put slowly into something that resembles normal. First, Mom gave me an update on Christmas dinner, but then she asked where Tall & Handsome was. That was odd, and when I told her he was right there with me and asked why she wanted to know she got very, very quiet. Finally she said, “I have some bad, bad, bad news.”
“Oh dear God”, I thought. One of them is terminally ill.
“Momma, what’s wrong?”
“Honey, there was a bad wreck Wednesday evening and Mandy was killed.”
And, there it was…heartbreak at Christmas. I was instantly sick to my stomach. Mom had few details except that Mandy was dead and the kids were hurt and one of them had been airlifted to the hospital. The proverbial rain kept pouring because at the hospital when a MRI was perform on the son prior to his proposed released, a tumor was found on the little fellow’s brain. How much can a family take? And why now?!
Later in the day more details began to unfold. Mandy was lost almost immediately at the scene…her injuries were just that severe. The little boy was thrown from the car but blessedly the injuries were non-life threatening…there was just the new found tumor to deal with. The daughter sustained bumps, bruises and a black eye…and I’m sure a tattered heart and spirit.
Mandy was almost a month past her 34th birthday. Way too young to leave this world. Things like this are called “accidents”…a pickup truck plows into a small four door sedan loaded with a young Mom and two young children…and changes lives forever. It just seems like there should be a better word than “accident”.
I met Mandy about 10 years ago when she was engaged to and married my son’s best friend…the guy I called my red-headed step child for years. Mandy and I were close for years and she was there for me in some difficult times…when Gomez left. She saw bruises he left on my neck and shoulders and she saw what he put me through.
I was there when she found out she was expecting her first child…and when that baby was born. There was many a night when the three of them came over for dinner and just a fun evening. Mandy felt comfortable enough to visit in the winter in her comfy PJ’s. We would sit in front of the fire place, prop our feet up on the hearth and bare our souls with girl talk. She was there when I met T & H.
She started her career as a stylist and wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always said Mandy was the only one that could give me a really good haircut. But, she was so much more than that. She was brighter and smarter than she realized…and I made a point in telling her that whenever I could. I could tell she was a budding computer techie and was able to give her a computer I no longer needed. Just as I suspected she exceeded what many expected…
Mandy was vibrant, happy, cheerful, loved her kids and loved her God. And, there is a hole in many, many people’s lives today.
On Saturday people gathered to celebrate her life…and they did, but sometimes in grief people do things that are unexplainable…otherwise, why would they try to tear families apart?
I saw this very thing happen in 1973 when my own much beloved aunt died in August of that year in yet another “accident”. She was taking her middle school teen Sunday School class to Six Flags Over Georgia. There were several carloads going that hot August day. My aunt’s car was loaded with five teens. Her son was traveling in another car. That was a blessing in disguise because a tractor trailer truck inexplicably hit my aunt’s car killing her and four of those teens. Not only did her son witness her death, but even today as an adult he suffers from the turmoil of custody issues. Nothing good comes from situations born in anger…
Mandy and I had grown apart and lost touch over the years other than an occasional “howdy” through MySpace. T & H and I have made about six work related moves. Mandy moved a few times and went through some pretty intense personal stuff herself. Knowing her I can’t help but feel she would be extremely troubled by this heartbreak at Christmas. Somehow I think Mandy would be more inclined to heed the words of Solomon:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 3:5-8 NASB
© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.