Bryer was here…

My eldest daughter was only twelve when I killed her.

It was a cold Saturday morning, and my youngest daughter had just finished playing netball, she was grumpy because her team had lost, and she was arguing with her sister about sitting in the front seat.

“Muuum!”  my oldest girl moaned “It’s MY turn!”

I lost my temper “That’s enough you two!  I’m sick of the fighting! It’s Bryers turn in the front and that’s that!”

Both girls stopped arguing and jumped into the car and put their seat belts on.  We left the netball courts and began the long drive home.  I started feeling sorry for growling them, so I stopped at a bakery and brought treats for the drive home.   Back on the road again, I smiled at my oldest daughter as I handed her a piece of cake,  I then passed my youngest daughter hers in the backseat.  I only took my eyes off the road for a split second when I heard the crunch of gravel as our car started veering off the road, I quickly swerved the steering wheel to straighten us up, but I must have swerved too hard, and our car started fish-tailing out of control.  It all happened so fast, yet so slowly at the same time.  I remember feeling our car spinning across the road, and I remember seeing another car driving towards us.  I don’t remember the bang of our car hitting the other car.   I don’t remember the first few minutes after the crash.

The first thing I remember is realizing that I was sitting in the back seat, witness’s said I climbed out of my door and into the back seat to check my youngest daughter. Her leg was trapped, and she had a huge hole above her eye, other than that she was conscious and calm.   No-one knows if I checked my eldest girl in the passenger seat, and to this day it haunts me that maybe I didn’t…

I remember the police and ambulance arriving, followed by a firetruck to cut my daughters out of our car.

The next half hour is a blur to me.

A police officer came and told me that the rescue helicopter was on its way to take my daughters to hospital, I would go in an ambulance – I was in shock and didn’t fully comprehend how serious their injuries were.

I remember being in the ambulance, when suddenly I felt something break inside of my heart – that’s the best way I can describe it – something died inside of me…   I started to panic, “Bryer has died”  I said to the ambulance officer in the back with me “She’s died, she’s died”     He tried to calm me down, but couldn’t, so in the end he asked the driver to radio the helicopter…

The reply finally came back that no she hadn’t died, but she was in a serious condition.   I couldn’t calm down though – I knew what I had felt.

We got to hospital and my girls were already in surgery.  I was put through various tests while a nurse picked bits of glass out of me.  The whole time I was crying to know what was happening with my children – I knew Bryer had died, but they kept telling me both girls were alive and in surgery.  They kept giving me hope.

Hours passed, and my injuries were treated while my girls were in surgery.  I had a broken rib and bruised lung and severe bruising on my brain.  It took fifteen stitches to close the wound on my chin up.

No-one would tell me what was happening with my children.

Finally I was wheeled into a room, and I saw my ex-husband there, holding my eldest daughters hand

“It’s a farce” he said “She’s already gone”.   He was crying and crying, but I was numb, I just looked at her.

She didn’t have a scratch on her beautiful face, It took many months before I was able to understand how she could be gone when I couldn’t see any injuries.   I still don’t understand why they gave me hope, even though I already knew that she had died.

The impact of the crash had caused Bryer’s seat belt to perforate her lung, stopping oxygen from getting to her brain.     Her brain had died in the helicopter.  The doctors fought to save her, but Bryer’s injuries were too severe.

With our consent, the doctor turned the machine that was keeping Bryer’s heart beating off, and her official time of death is 6.11pm.

My youngest daughter received a broken wrist, and eighty stitches put her face back together  (two and half years later and the scar is barely noticeable).

I was charged with driving on an expired licence, and sentenced to one year home detention.

I am nearly at the end of my sentence now – my official sentence, that is.    Everyday I cry for my beloved daughter and wish she could forgive me.  Everyday I live, knowing that it should have been me who died, and knowing that I can’t ever forgive myself.

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13 thoughts on “Bryer was here…

  1. Sofia Leo says:

    So very sorry for your loss.

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  2. The following will probably not lighten your burden, but I feel it should be said.

    In Buddhism, there is the term ‘interdependent co-arising’. It points the fact that causes and conditions come together ‘just so’ to give rise to what happens. The right ingredients are mixed at a certain temperature for a certain time using certain tools – and you get pancakes.

    But in life, there is no one making the pancakes. Fluxing causes and conditions come together of their own accord continuously, of themselves producing a flow of results. You are one such fluid center of the flow of causes and conditions, Toni. You did not birth yourself. You did not choose your country, language or customs.

    What happened the day that Bryer died was a concatenation of infinite causes and conditions of which you and your daughters were centers, swirling stars in a vast firmament. Just a few important pivots out of this infinity of co-arisings: the game ended at a certain time; a heated choice was made on seating arrangements; feelings of love and the route itself produced a stop at a bakery; you turned around a bit to the back seat to hand something off, like you had many times before, like we all have; Bryer’s seat belt was made a certain way. But so much more, including the entire history of the universe, in fact, all the births and deaths leading up to you and your children, and the actions upon actions of countless beings and phenomena just at the right times to led up to your precise situation, and too the exact conditions on the road – perhaps a bit of sand, a slick of oil, a certain curve – all contributing to the complete moment of the accident.

    The ACCIDENT. Not the ON PURPOSE. Yes, perhaps carelessness was involved, but so was love: those cupcakes expressed it. So what occurred can’t so simply be put in a box of ‘bad behavior’. That is the tragedy of it: there was so much goodness in it.

    Nor should you invest yourself with more control than you actually had in the situation at hand. That really is a form of self-aggrandizement, even if it is to hold yourself (and no one and nothing else) accountable. Because the truth is that what happened was the result of a web of causes and conditions of which you played one role among many, many, many.

    Seeing through the temptation to self-censure (which is a form of self-centeredness), please take this precious opportunity to see how things actually work. Again, I think Bryer would want this for all, so that you may enact her love in the world. See the nature of interdependence so that you may naturally love everyone and everything with whom you are intertwined. This will not remove your loss. But after the withering of a flower and the winter’s barrenness, we plant anew, our hearts fragile, our love strong. And your living daughter needs you whole, to nurture her as she now blossoms after this cold winter. She may experience resentment because of what happened, still mired in ice, but love will warm and heal.

    She may, even as she resents you, cling ever more tightly to you, to make you indissolubly part of her – because of all of the fear and uncertainty involved in such a traumatic incident. Here are the words of a psychologist Mark Epstein, quoting the words of D.W. Winnicott, addressing the need to find a way to ease the situation (which happens even in non-traumatic circumstances) by giving you a useful and compassionate stance that honors both the child and you:

    “[T]he contributions of Winnicott on the necessity of hate in the growing child may be instructive[.] Winnicott sees the [child] as possessing a natural urge to be at one with that which she loves, seeking to destroy the mother’s separateness with a ruthlessness and singlemindedness that any woman who has nurtured her children will attest to. He developed the concept of “the good enough mother,” who could manage this attack without being destroyed, who could survive the assault without withdrawing in horror, retaliating with fury, or otherwise abdicating her maternal presence. Part of this “good enough” response is also to resist the destruction perpetrated by the child, to stand her ground, set limits, define a boundary, and thereby induce some element of frustration into the [child’s] experience. The other part of the good enough response is to permit the rage, to accept the rupture that it heralds. This facilitates the maturation of the child from a state that Winnicott calls “object relating” to one of “object usage”; that is, from a state in which the mother is experienced as nothing but an extension of the [child] to one in which the mother’s separateness is grasped. The child’s hatred and aggressive urges, when properly met and “held” by the mother, force a destruction of the child’s own outmoded ways of relating.”

    It seems love must walk a fine line. May you and all those involved find your ways to love and peace.

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  3. A Hot Mess says:

    Oh my…………so sorry. Hugs from afar.

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  4. A Hot Mess says:

    And for fuck sake it was an accident. Yeah I know easy for me to say. I really wish I had some magical words of wisdom but I don’t. Just don’t beat yourself up too much.

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    • Yes I know it was an accident. Someday’s that knowledge makes it easier to live with, someday’s it makes it harder.
      I try not to beat myself up too much, but every so often I allow myself to wallow, before pulling myself back together again.
      Thank you though. Xx

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  5. gatito2 says:

    Oh my gosh, I am so very, very sorry. You must know it was not really your fault. How many of us have taken our eyes off the road for a second to do something, to hand someone something, to put in a new CD, to change the radio station. We all do it a million times over all the time. I know there’s no way to make you not feel guilty, but I believe in my heart that your daughter has forgiven you a long time ago, knowing that you would have never caused her death intentionally, never. I am so sorry. I know you feel guilty. I feel guilty of a lifetime of things I didn’t notice.

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