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There is a time to be silent

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Posted: July 24, 2008 1:10 a.m.
Updated: September 24, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
It is so easy for some of us to stand at a distance and self-righteously criticize the failings of others. It’s how the talking heads at Fox News and CNN make a living.

Now is not the time for judgment.

On Monday afternoon, the unthinkable happened to one of our fellow residents.

A mother of three came home from shopping with her children. Two of those kids got out of the minivan as she unpacked the day’s purchases. But Jack Roscoe Winchester, 23 months old, was still strapped in his car seat.

Investigators have yet to say exactly how long it was before the mother realized her son was not in the house; before she found her son still strapped into his car seat, unconscious.

Dead before he even reached 2 years old.

The mind is flooded with questions.

“How could this woman forget her child?” we might ask. “How could it take so long to remember?”

The more it’s considered, the more a bitter taste of anger begins to rise in the throat.

What avoidable agony did that child suffer in the final moments of his life? How can this woman call herself a mother?

But in our self-righteous assurance that we could “never let that happen,” perhaps we haven’t stopped to consider what personal hell this woman’s life has become around the clock.

There will be no first day of kindergarten; no Little League games; no driving lessons behind the wheel of the family car; no high school graduation; no news of a grandchild on the way. All of those hopes fell to pieces on Monday.

Whether or not she faces trial in a court of law, this woman will suffer.

For the rest of her life, this mother will probably replay Monday afternoon in her head, over and over and over, forever wondering, “How could I ... ? What if I ... ? Why didn’t I ... ?”

Yes, this woman must be held accountable for her negligence. There is no excuse for what happened to that little boy.

But right now, she doesn’t need our judgment, our criticism — our finger-wagging. She doesn’t need “common sense” reminders of the dangers of leaving a child in a hot car.

She needs neighbors willing to shut their mouths, stand by her and offer up a prayer.

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