January 4, 2011

"Emilie lived alone with her little boy who clearly believed she was sleeping and might wake up."

"Emilie had not contacted anyone since before Christmas, suggesting that she may have died before this time. Her father spoke to her son over the phone and was simply told that she was asleep."

Emilie was 28, the boy, 3.

29 comments:

Scott M said...

Utterly awful, however understandable (I have a three-year-old). The food and drink thing begs a bunch of questions, though. My little girl knows how to get food and drinks out of the fridge and water from the tap. The main problem is that she (and I'm assuming this little boy) are helpless to 1) call for help on a phone or 2) leave the house to get help. I have child-safety precautions specifically to prevent the latter.

Two back to back horrors this morning, AA. We need a thread now about some soft-news fluff piece in order to restore equilibrium.

Fred4Pres said...

That has to be one of the worst Christmas stories ever.

lemondog said...

I echo Fred4Pres. Too, too sad.

In general, I don't think three-year-olds understand, at least consciously, the concept of death.

Scott M said...

In general, I don't think three-year-olds understand, at least consciously, the concept of death.

I believe that's true. Plus, the very environment a good parent sets up to keep them safe would, in a case like this, make them a prisoner trapped inside with a dead body.

It occurs to me, though, that if someone calls once and is told "mummy is sleeping", they would call back. If they got the same answer, alarm bells should go off.

Pogo said...

You have a small child and lay dead for days, and no one checks on you?

Families seem largely dead, too.

Dave said...

Scott M: Do you mind sharing what precautions you mentioned regarding this?

Scott M said...

Simple. There are plastic snap-on covers that go over a standard door knob. It requires a larger hand to push it wholly together around the actual knob in order to open the door. You can pick it up pretty much anywhere.

One of my reoccurring nightmares is one of my children getting out of the house on their own and wondering out into the neighborhood without me knowing about it. Unrealistic? I did it when I was two. Luckily we were on a military post at the time.

former law student said...

Grandpa didn't plan to drop in for Christmas dinner; he didn't invite his daughter and grandson for Christmas at his house? He didn't try to call back (three year olds may be unreliable message takers).

This takes all the fun out of "dysfunctional family."

From Inwood said...

"Emilie", er?

See, "A Rose for Emily", short story by William Faulkner.

Ann Althouse said...

As for not reacting suspiciously to the statement that the mother is asleep — she was only 28. Who thinks of death when they hear that a 28-year-old is sleeping?

Scott M said...

It wouldn't be suspicious unless the same person called back later and got the same response from the 3-year-old.

Rialby said...

I pray that this boy will never remember this.

Too sad for words.

pm317 said...

Scott M said...
-----------
Do they have a sense of time? I am thinking the mother and the child had a very good trusting relationship for him to sit there and wait calmly.

Heartbreaking. There was a french movie called Ponette, about a little girl grieving her dead mother -- the child actor was heartrendingly good.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If the adults don't make a huge deal over this and put the poor kid into traumatic counseling...he will eventually get over it.

The memory will fade. At three years old, you will recall some things. How you recall them is mostly dependant upon how the adults react and how often they reinforce 'their' perception of the events to the child.

Many of the things I 'think' I remember as a very young child are really repetitions of family stories or have been reinforced by photographs and 8mm movies....not really my actual memories.

It is a very sad occurance, but at least there are no memories of blood or other bodily trauma. He will get over it and survive if the adults act like adults.

Freeman Hunt said...

In general, I don't think three-year-olds understand, at least consciously, the concept of death.

No, they don't. My three year old regularly asks, "Where is Grandpa?" and says, "Let's go see Grandpa at his house," and Grandpa died in September.

Scott M said...

It's heartbreaking enough for a 3-year-old to do so, Freeman, but rolled up in that cute little 3-year-old body with a 3-year-old's diction, it goes straight into the wiring and pulls on the tear/gut-wrench/adore chords, all at the same time.

former law student said...

Grandpa died in September.

Freeman, please accept my belated condolences. Did you mention your loss at that time, because I do not recall it?

Be said...

This is in France. It isn't surprising. They have a huge suicide rate.

I think it has something to do with the criminalization of mental illness and the number of sudden deaths in what they call "protective custody."

Scott M said...

This is in France. It isn't surprising. They have a huge suicide rate.

What that has to do with a suddenly ruptured artery in the brain, I'm still trying to figure out. Wasn't this an aneurysm?

Freeman Hunt said...

Thanks, FLS.

A story like this has to be jarring if you're a single parent. If I dropped dead, my husband would find me the same day, but I would be worried to think that I could drop dead and my children would be on their own until someone figured it out.

Ralph L said...

You'd think someone would notice the smell, but then, she was French.

Just Lurking said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MarkW said...

This is in France. It isn't surprising. They have a huge suicide rate.

I suppose most French are probably as unlikely to believe it as Americans are, but the secret is...life in France just isn't all that different than it is here. Americans generally either haven't been to France or if they have, then they've done the France as a giant theme-park thing (planes & trains, museums & cathedrals). But go spend some time in ordinary France. Their expressways and gas stations look like ours do. They shop at superstores (Carrefour is French for Walmart). There's plenty of suburban sprawl, commuting gridlock, and fast food just like here.

But maybe the French and Americans are too fond of their outdated stereotypes of each other to ever give them up.

Scott M said...

But maybe the French and Americans are too fond of their outdated stereotypes of each other to ever give them up.

Cowboys are cooler than Musketeers.

AST said...

I don't believe that this kid will just "forget" this. He's too small to deal with something this huge. He'll suppress all the feelings of loss and will probably need therapy when he gets older.

This is a heartbreaking story. It will haunt me.

MarkW said...

Cowboys are cooler than Musketeers

They have country music festivals. We have renaissance faires. A friend who lives over there even once ran across a bunch of (American) civil war reenactors. Which is a little hard to believe, but then you google and find:

http://family.webshots.com/album/568754452ApxqfI?start=24

William said...

Something perhaps similar, but a quantum jump worse happened to me when I was a child. Let's just say I have my reasons for not owning a dog.

Scott M said...

A friend who lives over there even once ran across a bunch of (American) civil war reenactors.

Ex-pats or self-loathing French?

Largo said...

pm said "Heartbreaking. There was a french movie called Ponette, about a little girl grieving her dead mother -- the child actor was heartrendingly good."

Yes! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117359/