Two weeks ago, a four year-old boy riding a scooter in his apartment complex was tragically hit and killed by an adult driver turning into the neighborhood. Police indicated that the driver was obeying all laws and that this was truly an accident. My wife and I were invited by the local police chaplain to an event he organized and hosted last night. The event was intended for members of the apartment community hurting from what they had witnessed. We were invited, along with other mental health providers and local pastors, to be present to care for and resource those needing it.
The very first person we met that evening was a sixth grade girl, named Haley, along with her mom. Haley shared that she goes to a local middle school and was a student leader at the same elementary school where our daughters attend. As we talked together, she shared the story of how she and her friend brought hot chocolate, a blanket, and some treats to the older siblings of the victim, while the first responders tended to the driver, parents, and the little boy who was struck that night.
As the evening program began, the police chaplain went out of his way to recognize Haley’s healing hands, noting that she made her decisions on her own initiative, along with two other friends. The chaplain pointed out that amidst the nightmare he was ministering in, Haley brought hope and was, in fact, the beginning of the pastor’s own healing from this traumatic experience.
Another man from the neighborhood, with tears in his eyes, also pointed Haley out. He said that he had not known what to do or how to help the night of the tragedy (a very normal response for someone experiencing trauma), but Haley’s modeling and thoughtful care of others spoke to him as he watched from afar. He felt a sense of reassurance and comfort through her act of kindness.
With so much darkness and discouragement flooding our minds and weighing on our hearts these days, I choose to remember Haley. I want to be like her, an 11 year-old girl, who in the midst of terrible tragedy didn’t ask permission to help. She simply saw her neighbors hurting around her and courageously stepped forward to provide comfort, care, and to embody tangible hope. We have heard that Haley has previously experienced loss in her young life. It seems that when we have been the recipients of comfort ourselves, in times of our own pain, we better understand how important those moments are for others. Thank you, Haley, for representing the best of humanity, and for reminding us that we can and should step forward to those hurting around us. Find a place to share a little hope today, just like Haley.
Written by Jeff & Terra Mattson, Co-Founders and Owners of Living Wholehearted, LLC.