I learned on Friday afternoon, at work, that little YeuYeu, as she had come to be known, had died in hospital. I started to cry at the thought of this little girl, a toddler, who had been a stranger to us all until we heard about her in the news, losing her life in such a tragic and sad way. It was because of a terrible accident on a narrow market street in China where people walked by – too fearful it seems, or perhaps indifferent, to help. It was heartbreaking to think of this little life lost.
Those weren’t the only tears. Thursday, Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old boy from Ottawa, Canada, was buried. He committed suicide last weekend. The only openly gay person in his high school, he had been rejected, bullied, isolated. He suffered from depression. He wrote, “I’m tired of life, really. It’s so hard, I’m sorry, I can’t take it anymore”. His family did everything they could, but it seems the community – his school – the place where he spent so much 0f his time, didn’t do as much as they could to make this teenager feel safe, welcomed and at ease in his day-to-day life.
These two strangers come together in my mind because they both were isolated and alone when they needed help most from those around them. They suffered terribly and lost their lives. Whether it was fear or indifference, or worse, people who could have, didn’t step up.
It’s just too sad for words. And, while we may find ourselves judging those who seemed callous or cruel, I find myself thinking about those who wanted to do something but were too afraid. And, those who weren’t paying attention, and realize now the price of their indifference or callousness. Whether they were on a street in China, or at a high school in Ottawa, it doesn’t matter. This is their wake-up call. But, it is not just for them, it is for all of us. Because we all face times of fear; we have all experienced blindness. Hopefully, never with such a high cost.
Maybe this is a chance to pause and look around – to really look around, to see if there’s someone in our midst who needs help, and. bravely, reach out.