I was really, really saddened with the news of the mother, Lashanda Armstrong, who drove her car into a river, killing herself, 3 of her kids and mentally scarring the fourth one for life. When I read this story I was disturbed but I did not want to comment because I was going to be judgemental but sometimes your heart is so heavy you have to speak. While everyone is mourning the mother and the three kids (rightfully so) who perished, my mind kept wondering back to the 10-year-old who managed to escape the drowning car, Leshaun Armstrong. What happens to him now? How does he cope with watching his mother and three siblings drown?
I work with children ( who just like Leshaun) who have experienced extreme tragedies within their families. The only difference between them and Leshaun is that many of them are about to be adults. Some of them have experienced physical and sexual abuse or have watched their parents commit suicide, while others have watched their parents abandon them due to addiction, then there are the ones who manage to care for a whole household while being a teenager themselves. No matter what the trauma they all have one thing in common–their pain is real and it hurts. When I ask them the one thing they could say to a parent that is not longer here it is always the same thing, they want to tell that parent that they love them.
When the media stops covering Lashanda Armstrong’s story and when most people have forgotten about the sadness surrounding this case, Leshaun will be in a room by himself missing his family.The odds are that he will have extreme emotional damage due to this selfish decision made by his mother in a split second. He may become depressed, despondent and be filled with hopelessness. Who will be there to help him? How can he ever get that dark moment of hearing his brothers, sisters and mothers scream from drowning? I wish for him that he finds peace and realizes there is nothing he could have done to prevent his mother from driving her car into that water. I hope that his community “steps up” and offers him so much support and love that he can heal from this experience and help others. I need for Lashaun to know that he is a gift and that he is here for a reason. I pray that he forgives his mother and realizes the immense pain she was going through.
Parents, please remember children are gifts–they are more valuable than any piece of jewelry, car, money and relationship you can have with another human being. Sometimes we may get overwhelmed and we want to just cry or be in a room by ourselves. Other times we get so discouraged that dark thoughts may overwhelm us but there is one ray of light–our kids. Before you reach that point of no return, look at your kids and realize you are their only advocate–without you they would be lost.
Please pray for that child and his healing.