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Tragedy in Texas Reminds Me to Love My Son Even More

July 22, 2010

As I read the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking story of the the Irving, Texas, mother who calmly called 911 earlier this week to say that she had strangled her two children because they had autism, my stomach is churning, my chest is fluttering, my eyes are tearing and thoughts are running rampant through my head:

How does someone do something so monstrous?

She must be mentally ill.

Those poor children.

What a horrible, horrible, horrible way to die.

I can hear their screams. Their pleading through tears. (It hurts my ears.)

She’s horrible.

She’s pathetic.

Where the hell was her husband?

She must have been so isolated. So overwhelmed.

She must be so sick, so depressed.

Did anyone try to help her?

What triggered her?

What kind of person could feel “nothing” after killing her children?

Did her cultural background add pressure, add stigma around having a child with autism?

OMG, how could she do that to her own children? To ANY children.

This is beyond comprehension.

I’m grieving for these innocent children I did not know. Any words I can write about this situation fall woefully short of its magnitude. As the mom of a child with special needs, it’s particularly painful to read the mother’s words:

“I don’t want my kids to be like that,” she told the 911 operator. “I want normal kids.”

I can’t begin to relate to the context in which these words were said, but can I relate to the content? Would I love for The Buddha to be more “normal”? Yes. I know “normal” is a loaded word, but let’s assume here that it means he could walk, talk, socialize and navigate the world in a way that more or less blends in with other relatively “typically developing” children. I’ve honestly never connected with the moms who say in lilting voices, “I wouldn’t want my child any other way.” I mean, why would I subject my child — or me, for that matter — to this if I had a CHOICE?

But this incomprehensible, horrifying situation in Texas reminds me that I do have CHOICE in how I react to my life with a child with special needs, of how I choose to grieve the “expected” path that was not to be.

I tell my coaching clients all the time that there are infinite choices at every moment, and sometimes we need help to see that they are there. When we are able to unveil new perspectives, we open new pathways to peace and joy.

So, let’s look for some new perspectives for ourselves in the wake of this tragedy. What choices do we see now that we know it’s possible for a mother to do the ultimate selfish act in the name of wanting her kids to be “normal”?

It certainly reminds me that the Universe brought me this special kid of mine for a whole bunch of reasons. So much learning, so much personal growth, sooooo much LOVE. When he comes home this afternoon, I’ll hug him (and his brother) a little tighter. I’ll tell him how much I love him. I’ll make renewed conscious choices to be more patient, more present. And, though before today I might have thought my heart was at capacity, I’ll make the choice to love him even more.

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  1. Anita Christie permalink

    It is our obstacles and the way in which we are able to navigate them that makes us who we are. Too bad this mother could not find a way to see the hidden blessings in her situation. She must have been so overwhelmed. So, so awful.

  2. dbucla permalink

    This story really reminds me of the “it takes a village” concept of raising a family. So many of us live far from our own families. We have such busy lives that we don’t notice what’s going on in other peoples’ lives. It’s so important to pay attention to our friends and lend an ear, or a hand.

  3. Such a tragic story. I really appreciated your thoughts on it.

    Especially this: “the Universe brought me this special kid of mine for a whole bunch of reasons. So much learning, so much personal growth, sooooo much LOVE.”


  4. such a heartbreaking and tragic story. I can’t even express the sadness I feel for those children and everyone involved, nor can I adequately express the admiration I feel for parents like yourself who make the choice to learn and grow and love along with a special needs child. My hope is that there will be more awareness and support for those with special needs children as a result of this tragedy.

  5. It always makes me wonder how far someone has been pushed to do something like this, how close to the edge must she had been? While it was of course wrong in the eyes of the law, I feel so sorry for her (the mother).


  6. Janey permalink

    So many terrible things happen… you’re right that our best response is to keep pouring love over the children we have connections with. x

  7. Sarah permalink

    What a horrible story!! A good friend of mine has a son with Autism, I can’t even begin to imagine a world without his smiley face!!

    It is so sad that this women did have the support around her.

    As sad as it sounds I hope that this story can raise peoples awareness and help this tragedy from happening again!

  8. I can’t comprehend the sadness of that story. Some things are just meant to not be understood.

    ICLW #50

  9. Such a sad story. It reminds me again that we all need to watch over each other’s children-especially when our biological families live far away. Our friends become even more important. Thanks for your post. Here from ICLW#112.

  10. What a sad story. As a special education teacher, it just breaks my heart.


  11. Thank you for the kind comments on my blog from ICLW. I shuddered when I heard that story. It broke my heart in so many ways. From being a special education teacher, to being infertile, to having an adoption disruption just a month ago, to just being a person who wants children regardless of how “normal” they are, my heart just broke for those babies and their mother. I had the same thoughts she must have been mentally ill, she must have been so overwhelmed, not had any help, or any place to turn, but how on earth could she have done that? It does remind me to be more patient with my students and their parents. To listen more and talk less when talking to parents. To really hear what parents are saying and making sure everyone is okay – kids an parents too. What a sad tragedy, but I loved the way you brought up new perspectives. Thank you.

  12. stephannee permalink

    I missed this story in the news, and am so saddened to hear it! Your writing and perspective is beautiful. I am mom of three, one with autism. Our life is hard some days, whose isn’t? I just wish this particular mom would have made a different choice. Praying for this family, and many others!!!

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