If Only. When the Unimaginable Happens In Your Own Back Yard.

Flowers by pond
Photo Credit: Vincent Gaye

Yesterday in a pond in my neighborhood, a newborn infant girl was found dead.  Even typing those words makes me shudder.

I truly cannot wrap my head around this news.  So many “if onlys” whirling around in my thoughts.

If only she didn’t get pregnant.

If only someone noticed her growing belly and offered assistance.

If only she was able to get medical care – physical and mental – during her pregnancy.

If only she went to a hospital when she was in labor.

If only she took the baby to the fire station that is a mile down the road from the pond. The “safe haven” law would have offered impunity.

If only she put the baby on the doorstep of one of the houses surrounding the pond.  She walked by several before getting to the pond.

If only she didn’t feel hopeless and terrified as she stood at the water’s edge.

If only she felt she could go to a parent, or a friend, or a minister or ANYONE who let her know everything would be ok.  That she had options.  Good options.  Options resulting in her baby being happy and healthy right now.  Options other than a pond.

If only a baby didn’t die.

I am not trying to judge.  I’m trying to understand.  But I just can’t.  I can’t understand what could bring someone to the point that they thought this was their only choice.

I was adopted as an infant.  The thought of my birth mother making this choice… I can’t even go there.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.  Part of me can’t help but pray the baby was still-born, and didn’t drown in that pond.  Not that the outcome would be different.  Or less sad.  But perhaps it would seem a bit less horrific.  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.

This is the second tragic event that has happened in my community recently.  A couple of weeks ago a local teen was fatally shot while sneaking in to his house after a night of drinking.  Only it wasn’t his house.  In his incapacitated state, he mistakenly entered his neighbor’s home.

If only he didn’t sneak out to attend that party.

If only he wasn’t able to somehow buy alcohol.

If only the police drove by and caught him walking home intoxicated.

If only he didn’t hop the fence into the wrong yard.

If only the window wasn’t unlocked.

If only it was light enough for the homeowner to recognize him.

If only he ran back out through the window when he heard the warning shot.

If only he didn’t think he was running upstairs to get help from his own parents.

If only the homeowner didn’t think he was running upstairs to hurt his own family.

If only the gun shot wasn’t fatal.

If only the homeowner didn’t have to live with the guilt.

If only a teen didn’t die.

These tragedies are weighing heavily on my heart.  I have a hard time accepting things when it seems as though the stars are just so mis-aligned that misfortune after misfortune ends in a catastrophic outcome that only God can try to understand.  I can’t understand.  And I can’t seem to let it go.

If only ONE of these “if onlys” could be changed to “thankfully…”

THANKFULLY she didn’t get pregnant.

THANKFULLY someone noticed her growing belly and offered assistance.

THANKFULLY she was able to get medical care – physical and mental – during her pregnancy.

THANKFULLY she went to a hospital when she was in labor.

THANKFULLY she took the baby to the fire station a mile down the road from the pond.

THANKFULLY she put the baby on the doorstep of one of the houses surrounding the pond.

THANKFULLY she didn’t feel hopeless and terrified as she stood at the water’s edge.

THANKFULLY she felt she could go to a parent, or a friend, or a minister or ANYONE who let her know everything would be ok.  That she had options.  Good options.  Options resulting in her baby being happy and healthy right now.  Options other than a pond.

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THANKFULLY he didn’t sneak out to attend that party.

THANKFULLY he wasn’t able to somehow buy alcohol.

THANKFULLY the police drove by and caught him walking home intoxicated.

THANKFULLY he didn’t hop the fence into the wrong yard.

THANKFULLY the window wasn’t unlocked.

THANKFULLY it was light enough for the homeowner to recognize him.

THANKFULLY he ran back out through the window when he heard the warning shot.

THANKFULLY he didn’t think he was running upstairs to get help from his own parents.

THANKFULLY the homeowner didn’t think he was running upstairs to hurt his own family.

THANKFULLY the gun shot wasn’t fatal.

THANKFULLY the homeowner didn’t have to live with the guilt.

If only I could say THANKFULLY a baby and a teen didn’t die.

If only.

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Please consider donating to Birthright.org.  They have a 24 hour hotline to help “…any girl or woman regardless of age, race, creed, marital or economic status, who feels distressed by an unplanned pregnancy.”  They have over 500 locations in the US and Canada so you can donate to the one nearest you.

For more information about these stories…

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(Please don’t start a debate about abortion or gun control.  There are plenty of forums for those types of discussions.  This is not one of them.)

21 thoughts on “If Only. When the Unimaginable Happens In Your Own Back Yard.”

    1. They don’t know yet who did this yet so they don’t know if it was a teenaged mother, although they said they are investigating at local schools. Our community is really torn up about it.

  1. I am really sorry this happened, and sorry it happened “in your own back yard.” My other used to drive me crazy about the state of the world and how bad things were getting. I am turning into my mother, rapidly. I was adopted, like you. Maybe we were “plucked from the pond.” Peace, J.

  2. This beautifully put…what is, is. But what is to be can be changed by donating to your charity or any other that supports women in need. Bless you.

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  3. Beautifully put. What is, is. We cannot change that. What we can change is what will be. Your plea for a donation is one of those ways. Reaching out to help women is need can be very powerful. Thank you and be well.

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  4. You have written this beautifully! As we watch and wait for the answers a lot of these same questions have run through my brain also…..what if!!!!!! Grieving for this family when all comes out!

  5. I cried when I heard this news. I was 19 when I had my son, not as young as the girl but still…I wish she had someone she trusted enough to help her. What a tragic and needless loss. This is a touching and beautiful post with a purpose, I can’t imagine what it must be like having something like this happen so close to where you live.

    Prayers to her family .

    Thank you for the comment. I’m just getting to replying and following back!! Have a lovely week! Following you!

    Jean {What Jean Likes}

  6. I think of “if only” all the time as I have two teenagers and I worry about their judgement. Teenage years are a time when mistakes have more serious consequences.

    The thought of that baby makes me so sad, but the “if onlies” make me just as sad.

    You wrote a really powerful piece.

  7. Oh my, so tragic. We all have “if onlys” in our lives, don’t we? It’s by the grace of God we survive at all. When young ones die, it’s particulalry heartbreaking. Saying a prayer for those families.
    from The Dugout

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