Her first baby, Francis, died by drowning. As an infant, his mother had left him alone in the bathtub when she got distracted by the door-to-door salesman that rang, trying to sell her a vacuum.
After baby Francis’ drowning, his mother genuinely grieved. And after her mourning, she decided to have another baby since the odds of better outcomes for a second baby were almost guaranteed.
Her second baby, Elizabeth, died from heat stroke. She died when her mother went into the grocery store in the height of summer, leaving the baby in the car. In the store, the mother ran into a childhood friend. They talked a long time about their childhoods and adulthoods. In the meantime, baby Elizabeth broiled and choked to death in the car.
Again, the mother genuinely grieved. And again, she decided to have another child, since sooner or later her luck with children was almost guaranteed to improve.
Her last baby, Charles, died when he wandered into the street and was struck by a car. His mother was so intent on trimming her rosebushes, she neglected to see the toddler wander into the street in front of their house.
Each time one of her children died, the mother genuinely grieved.
The first time one of her children passed, she said she couldn’t believe the misfortune in how the baby died.
She said the same thing when baby Elizabeth baked to death in the mid-August heat.
It was at this point, she was corrected. The mother was told the child hadn’t simply died in the sweltering car, but her neglect had killed it. She would be told the same thing about baby Charles – that his death wasn’t some act of random, unfortunate circumstance, but that the mother’s lack of attention was its primary cause.
The mother maintained her innocence. She proclaimed how she loved her children and continued to love them, even in their deaths. She testified to how she cried for each of her long gone children every day. She protested there was no ill-intent in the way they died since her neglect hadn’t been willful. She proclaimed, rightly, how her grief for her lost children was real, which proved her love.
When she killed baby Charles by allowing him to wandering into the street – again, she mourned. And she proclaimed to the few who would still listen how much she’d loved each and every one of her forlorn children. And she proclaimed her agony at being one of the rarest of mothers who’d lost three of her beloved babies.
In her neighborhood, she became known as the mother who killed all of her children through no ill-intent, while she forever held onto the belief that she loved her children as dearly as any other mother, since none of their deaths were planned, willed or desired.
Though she grieved and agonized over the deaths of her three children for the remainder of her life, no soul in the neighborhood was willing to acknowledge it. Some showed grief and empathy for the children she’d lost. But no empathy was ever offered to their grieving mother, with her rendering of the heartlessness of all her neighbors only adding to her years of prolonged anguish and grief.