The Night My Daughter Never Came Home, an essay by Diana Burns at

The Night My Daughter Never Came Home

The Night My Daughter Never Came Home

written by: Diana Burns


The Night My Daughter Never Came Home, an essay by Diana Burns at Spillwords.comIt is a cool April evening. April 28, 2017, to be precise. Life is good. This weekend my son and I will spend time together, do some shopping. Around 9 PM I get a text from my 19-year-old daughter; she wants to spend the night. We happily arrange for her to be here much later, as I cannot convince her to skip the night’s plans and come straight to me. My last text to her, “Okay. Love you,” goes unread. I feel uneasy but push the feeling aside. I will see her later. It is to remain unread. Forever.

I get the call about 30 minutes later, from her dad; my daughter’s been in an accident. We have no details, no inkling of what happened. My son and I hurriedly dress and wait for her father; we will go look for her. We rush to two different hospitals and are en route to a third when we get a call from a paramedic, telling us where to go. He cannot tell us anything over the phone, he says. I am in survival mode. I put my head in my lap, cover it with my hands, and chant over and over, “She is all right, she is a bit banged up, has a broken leg or something, but we will fix her. She is fine.”

Arriving at the hospital is a blur. We park and run inside. We are greeted by a lady who seems to be expecting us; she introduces herself as the hospital grief counselor. I still do not realize that my daughter is not coming home. We wait at the hospital for over an hour, getting conflicting and evasive reports from various paramedics. Incredibly, some even tell us they will go check, in answer to my questions about her condition. There we stand, walk, sit – oblivious to the truth – thinking she is just in another room and that they are fixing her, as I kept saying.

Finally, they take us into a waiting room, 3 or 4 paramedics, and start to tell us something about the airbag, and the injuries to her body. My mind cannot take where this is going; I put out my hand, as if to shield myself from their words, and say sternly, “Don’t tell me anything bad about Tahlia!” Again, with a pained look, the same paramedic starts talking about airbag injuries. Again, I warn, “Don’t tell me anything bad about Tahlia!” At this point, my mind is on its way to a horrible conclusion that I simply will not let it arrive at. I move towards the door of the waiting room to get some air. I cannot breathe, feel like all air is being sucked out of the room. The paramedic turns toward me and starts mouthing I know not what. All I know right now is that I am on the brink of before, toppling over the edge into the after, and I do not think Tahlia’s coming with me. I stare at him, and say something like, “But she’s okay, right?” I do not remember what he said, all I remember is one word from his sentence, which is injuries, accompanied by a pained look and a gentle shaking of his head. No.

For a moment, the world stands still. I am in a tunnel alone. The rest of the world seems like a peripheral illusion. I hear a terrible, anguished scream, which seems to go on indefinitely, but it could not have been more than seconds. I wonder where it is coming from. Eventually, I realize it is coming from me. I put my hand over my mouth to stop it, feel a hand on my arm, and hear someone offering me a sedative, injection. I shrug them off. Are they quite mad? I cannot check out now. If I do, I may never check back in.

This is the night my daughter never came home.

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