This post was shared by The View co-host Rosie O’Donnell and sparked a feature on 10 News, the CBS affiliate in Tampa, Florida. (Scroll to the bottom of the article to watch the video.)
Even after 8 years as a TV news reporter, there are some stories you just can’t shake from your head. No, not your head. They engulf your heart and shake you from the inside out.
They make you think.
Make you feel something.
To the little girl whose dad threw her off a bridge this morning (police say),
Dark and cold. At 5:50am, I yawned and opened my laptop.
Blurry-eyed, I scrolled past pictures of my friends’ kids playing at the park, and links to what-kind-of-wife-are-you quizzes on my Facebook page before I came to the sickening news. Your dad was speeding near the Sunshine Skyway, and an officer says he witnessed him throwing you off the bridge. Rescue crews found you an hour later, but it was too late.
Dearest sweet-girl-who-I-don’t-know, why did this happen to you?
I felt sick as I opened our back door to let the dog out. Still in my pajamas, I shivered at the harsh, 40-degree winds that howled into our living room. As I looked at my 2 little boys, cozy and warm in their fleece footsie pajamas, watching the Planes movie from under a quilt on the couch, my eyes fell to the floor.
Dearest sweet girl, why? My Mama Heart wishes so badly I could hug your little body right now, and wrap you in a chunky, warm blanket.
Were you scared during the chase? Or, were you totally oblivious to the danger ahead, laughing at the thrill of going so fast in the car with Daddy?
As I fed my children hot oatmeal and wiped their perfect little mouths, I kept thinking:
It’s not fair.
It’s not fair that I bundled up my boys in fleece coats and hand-knitted socks this morning, and your small body was tossed into the bitter liquid cold.
It’s not fair that I can kiss the scratch on my son’s cheek, or explain to him the difference between winter and summer, and you were thrown away. All of your important thoughts, ideas and learning experiences, submerged in one toss into Tampa Bay.
It’s not fair that I can hug my baby close on the chilly walk into Publix this morning, but no one could embrace you during that 62-foot fall to the frigid waters below.
It’s not fair that my son can say, “Mama?” in his sweet, hollow, innocent tone, and I can respond immediately, but you didn’t have anyone to call on during the most terrifying final seconds of your life.
It’s not fair that, while I took my sons to Target to buy planes and helicopters with their Christmas money this morning, your inconsolable family members might have been in your room. Running their fingers over your toy kitchen, or that new Elsa doll you got for Christmas, weeping uncontrolled. Those same toys you opened last month, with a twinkle of magic and joyful innocence in your eyes.
Sweet girl, I’ll bet you are playing with much better toys in Heaven right now.
But that doesn’t make it any easier for any of us to understand.
Yes, even strangers like me.
There is undeniable beauty and innocence in the eyes of every single child of this world.
And yours are no different.
I saw it, in the video your family friend sent a local news station. Wearing pink flip-flops and a mile-long smile, you jumped up and down for the camera. Your boisterous, sweet, joyful spirit shone so brightly, it almost blinded my grieving, stranger heart.
And then, filled my eyes with so many tears I could no longer see my computer screen.
I’m a stranger. But I have a Mother’s Heart.
And even though I don’t know you, I know that you are special, and innocent, and perfectly-made. So fragile and precious that it’s beyond my human understanding to fully comprehend. Totally and completely unique and irreplaceable.
I don’t know you.
But, I know that’s what you are.
What were your dreams for your life, sweet-girl-I-don’t-know?
I’ll bet you had big plans for what you wanted to do, and who you wanted to be. Maybe you wanted to be an astronaut, a princess, or perhaps even a Mommy. There are no limits to the amount of love you might have been able to slather on your future children, I’m sure.
But sadly, oh-so-terribly-sadly, sweet girl, you were robbed of that chance.
Early this morning on a cold, dark bridge.
Little girl, you won’t be a Mommy. Or an astronaut. Or someone’s best friend, favorite grandma or most inspirational teacher.
But you are, and now, will always be, a perfect, unspoiled sweet little Cherub in Heaven.
And a reminder to all of us of how precious, and utterly irreplaceable, each little child is.
Every Mother’s Heart
Five-year-old Phoebe’s father, John Jonchuck, Jr., was arrested hours after the incident and is charged with first-degree murder. Court records show he had a criminal past that included domestic battery arrests.