Today something unthinkable happened in my small town of 100,000 people. A young woman's car was pulled out of the sea. Inside it were the woman and her three children. They were discovered too late to be saved.
I posted about it on Facebook because I didn't want my family to somehow hear of the news and think it was me and my kids. I was so shocked and saddened by the news I knew I wanted to share the pain, selfishly. As I watched my friends comment on the tragedy I became relieved. I saw the names of my mum-friends who live around here - thankfully they were all OK. The news hadn't named the victims. But my friends seemed to be accounted for.
Some of them were angry. The lack of brake marks on the ground (as reported in the news) and the unlikely location where the "accident" happened made most of us think it was a murder/suicide. We're all mums, we feel deep pain for the children.
I'd like to give that mum the benefit of the doubt. Can you imagine what she went through as she called her kids to get into the car and drove them to that spot, knowing what she was planning to do? Could she really see no other way out? Did she see it as the best thing for her kids as they escaped an abusive father? Had she grown up in a terrible situation herself and not wanted that for her kids, knowing she was going to be 'checking out'? Were there too many scars in their lives to recover from? Was it an accident, just a horrible and freakish accident? We'll probably never know.
Guilt was an unexpected feeling. I am very very lucky. I am healthy, both mentally and physically. We have everything we need. It doesn't seem fair. But instead of letting those dark thoughts take over I am choosing to be grateful for the opportunities I have. In my work I help people. Women. Mums. What if that mother was trapped in a violent relationship that she couldn't see her way out of for lack of money? What if she had met someone like me who could have given her the confidence to learn new skills?
I've been in the situation where I have been frightened by my and my kids huge dependence on my husband for financial support. It's true I do work and earn my own money but the lion's share is earned by him. Our mortgage, our insurance, the kids' school fees, we depend on one large salary to get by. I'd like to earn more but for now I do not. Heaven forbid the worst happening.
My resolve has been strengthened. I never want to be in the position of worrying about money again. I have a back-up plan (this is it). And if I can help other women or even you to create a small bit of peace of mind about your financial future then I have no need to feel guilty for the good that I have in my life. I think I make a difference.
Spend a moment being grateful for what you have - you can read, you have a computer or an iPad and an internet connection. I hope you are safe. I hope you are loved. I hope you have friends. Kiss your kids and tell them they are wonderful. Call a friend and ask if she's ok.