On Saturday, Sept. 2, tragedy struck on the trail beneath Midgley Bridge, when a 2-year-old boy fell 50 to 60 feet down a cliff to his death.
We can only imagine the horror the boy’s family experienced in the moments after the fall and the agony of waiting for the arrival of first-responders: Coconino County Sheriff’s office deputies, Sedona Police Department officers, U.S. Forest Service crews and Sedona Fire District firefighters.
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We can also only imagine the dreadful wait for the family as SFD personnel rappelled down the cliff to recover the boy, while they hoped for him to be retrieved unharmed or at least alive.
The family of the child is on vacation visiting the area from Omaha, Neb. Now they will return home without their son.
While English has the words “widow” and “widower” for when a husband or wife loses a spouse and the word “orphan” for a child who loses parents, we have no such words for when a parent loses a child, because the thought is too terrifying to name.
By giving that thought a name, we give it the power and potential to exist.
In Sanskrit, there is a related word, “vilomah,” which literally means “against a natural order.” It is best interpreted as “the grey-haired should not bury those with black hair.”
But even that is woefully insufficient to capture the emotional devastation of the experience and the parents’ lives afterward.
Even if we did have a term, words will do nothing to assuage the anguish and grief the family must be experiencing. We offer such empty and fruitless words anyway to share our sorrow because we simply know not what else to do.
For those of us in Sedona, Midgley Bridge has long been a site of tragic deaths, but nearly all them were suicides as people decided in a moment of despair to take their lives.
The new fencing along the bridge was installed to prevent these deaths from occurring there, but yet again, death has come to the area near the bridge, made all the more tragic by the age of the victim and the accidental nature of his death. This time, the death was not on the bridge at all, but rather on the trail that runs alongside it.
There has been talk on social media about setting up a fundraiser for the family. We sincerely hope anyone who establishes such a fund will contact us so we can inform our readers in print and on our website and direct them where to send money or words of comfort.
We at the newspaper and we residents of Sedona pass on our sincerest condolences to the family for what must be an overwhelming loss.