Imagine if you were 17 years old and you learned that your mother and 12-year old brother were killed in a head-on car collision with a semi-trailer? And your remaining 14-year old sibling, in the same car, was injured so severely that she had to be put into an induced coma to try and save her life?
Now imagine that four days later, in a separate incident, your father’s body was found washed up in a creek bed, a victim of floodwaters resulting from a cyclone?
That’s exactly what Shanon Heidemann is living with right now. On April 4, 2017, Jane Towers, aged 39, and Jayjay Heidemann, aged 12, were killed on the Princes Highway in Berry, New South Wales. Khloe Heidemann, aged 14, survived but is in a coma battling two broken legs, a broken arm and a shattered pelvis. A piece of her skull had to be removed to inhibit brain swelling (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/woman-child-killed-in-crash-on-princes-highway-at-berry/news-story/76c4a563f4d2bbfb567b4cb06b0fd802).
Then on April 8, Shanon was told that the body of his dad, David Heidemann, aged 50, was found on the banks of the Barambah Creek, west of Murgon, Queensland. David went missing on March 30, following Cyclone Debbie (http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4585549/cruel-twist-in-princes-highway-crash-tragedy).
Two separate tragedies. Three dead. Two orphans – one struggling to stay alive, the other struggling to keep on keeping on.
Incomprehensible. Unthinkable. Staggeringly unlikely odds.
Will Khloe survive? How will Shanon cope? What does the future hold for Shanon and Khloe?
The 24/7 e-fuelled news cycle relentlessly brings tragedy to our eyes and ears. Instinctive sympathy can easily slip into helplessness, slump into indifference and even sink into compassion fatigue. Turn the page, change the channel…
What can one person do?
Send some money – relatives have organised a GoFundMe webpage to help raise funds (https://www.gofundme.com/The-Berry-Crash-Tragedy) for the survivors.
Write to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to do the same.
Share this story on social media.
Say a prayer for the family, lost as well as living.
Contemplate how lucky you really are, despite past or present challenges.
Hug your family.
Make an appointment to donate blood (https://www.donateblood.com.au/make-appointment).
It’s Good Friday and I have done all of the above. I imagine that it is still not enough…