Tragic Loss: Told by Tina Beilder
Rebecca in 5th Grade
Nobody can describe to someone else the pain experienced after the loss of a child. After becoming a parent and feeling the love from my own children, I could only imagine what kind of pain that loss would create. Today, I truly know that pain, on May 18, 1999, only one day after my family moved to Puerto Rico, my daughter and I were in a fatal accident. The results of that day were catastrophic to my family’s life. Transition is often hard enough on families without a tragedy involved. When we arrived to Puerto Rico our friend, Misty, offered to have us stay with her until we found a house. We were all moving from Panama, where our military life took us last. Misty and her husband, Alan who worked with my husband, had moved to Puerto Rico one-month ahead of us. They had not yet received their belongings from the move.
Misty, Rebecca (my daughter), and I decided to go to Wal-Mart and buy some new dishes before dinner. We had had a long day of house hunting, so Rebecca was tired. She asked me if she could doze off until we arrived. We had only been driving ten minutes longer when I looked back and noticed she had fallen asleep and was in a position that would surely result in a sore neck. So, I started to remove my seatbelt and lean towards Rebecca to adjust her. All of the sudden, Misty screamed! I turned forward to see what was happening. What I saw was terrifying. A huge white truck was coming in the opposite direction. Head on about the 10:00 position. Its front wheels were 2 or 3 feet in the air the truck was obviously out of control. We had approximately one car length until impact. The very next second I found myself on the road. My body had been stopped with a hard collision into the guardrail. I could smell gasoline and hear the engine running with a loud scraping sound. At that moment, I realized we had been hit.
My next thought was to save my daughter, I jumped to my feet and ran to the car. As I approached the rear door on the passenger side, I seemed to be in slow motion. What I was seeing was too horrible for my mind to comprehend! Rebecca was leaning out the window, I could see the inside of her head. She had suffered a sever blow to her tiny skull. After the moment when I looked back and saw her sleeping, I would never see her beautiful face again. I looked to my feet I saw gray brain matter under them on the road. I tried to look away, but it was as if Rebecca’s thoughts were lying there never to be heard again. With motherly instinct I reached in and gently put my hands under her arms and tried to lift her out. Her broken head in my chest and her lifeless body in my hands, I pulled against the seatbelt that held her in. My strength was fading fast as I realized I could not save her, I looked towards Heaven and cried out in pain. Suddenly, I realized I could still hear the engine scraping! I reached into the front passenger door and tried to turn off the engine, there I saw Misty! Her twisted body was draped across the center console and into the passenger side floor. Her spine was curved up in reverse and her face was towards the corner of the dash and door; there was a scary silence. I reached in and tried to pull Misty’s body from the crash. During my effort to pull her out, I felt a sharp pain run across my back and down my right leg.
A firm hand of a stranger touched my back. I turned and fell face first into the stranger’s chest, crying out for help! Misty’s smashed car blocked both lanes on our side of Highway 3. Cars were starting to create a long line of traffic. I was lost in my own slow motion and silence even though the noise and confusion was rising quickly. The emergency team arrived and tried to gain some sort of order. They asked me questions about phone numbers, but I could not answer. They all assumed I was in shock. The only reason I could not tell them phone numbers is I never knew them we had only been in Puerto Rico 26 hours. I can still recall every second of that day; I was not in shock, I was just deep in thought and emotional pain. I could go on for hours recalling the thoughts that ran through my head of how my family could possibly live without “Becca”. The pain in my heart was overwhelming. The emotional pain of the loss of Rebecca masked my physical pain completely. (Due to my injury, of nerve damage, I spent about one week in a hospital bed completely unable to walk.) Denial set in instantly, How could this be? I was going numb, but my main thought was of my family; how was I going to tell my husband and son that we would no longer have Rebecca in our lives? Even though I have lived through this loss, I could still not describe with clarity the intense pain to someone who has never experienced the loss of a child. Only now I share a silent union with those who have.