Sunday at 1145, a 2 year old boy named Maddock fell into an African painted dog exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo and was mauled to death by 11 wild dogs within minutes.
This is the kind of story that makes every mother of young children go wake up their babes and hug them as tight as they can. I did.
And I cried for hours, trying desperately to erase the images flashing through my mind of Purslane being the 2 year old. Because a week ago, we were at the exact same spot looking at those wild dogs. The Pittsburgh Zoo is less then a mile from our house and we are members. It is the easiest day trip for me and both babes- a nice walk, Pursy begging the whole time to go see the lions and then running away laughing and squealing when they so much as yawn or roll over. We love the zoo. And last week, I actually pulled Pursy off of the railing around the Elephant exhibit after she got so excited her little feet just moved up the fence. Two year olds are so fast.
As the story unfolded, it turns out that Maddock's mother picked him up and stood him on the top of the railing that overlooked the dog enclosure. And unless she is mentally unstable, she probably had an arm around his waist while she helped him up or had every intention of settling him on the railing while she stood behind him and held tight. Maybe he loved dogs and was begging her to see them without the wood and mesh of the railing in his way. And I cannot image making the decision she did to place her two year old on top of a railing overlooking wild dogs; but for her, I'm sure losing hold on her son was an unthinkable result. A split second decision that changed everything.
Maddock's mother and father are both in WIPC (the Psych hospital in Pittsburgh) being sedated and medicated to prevent shock. I cannot image any drugs being strong enough. My heart breaks for them and the images that will never leave their minds.
And I want to be angry at his mother. I want to scream at her that she has no business being a mother if she thought that placing her precious son in that position was okay. But as mothers we don't always think. Sometimes we want so badly to see our children happy that we forget that our primary job is to protect them. So I have been praying for Maddock's family. For his parents who have to wake up every morning and go to bed every night.
And for Maddock- maybe we passed you one day at the zoo, looking at the animals wide eyed behind your little baby glasses. I believe Jesus takes little people like you and keeps them close.