There comes a point in your childhood when one come to terms with the concept of life and death. For some reason, as parents we find ourselves avoiding discussing the concept of death till we feel that a child is ready to understand that we do actually die. Usually by then, the child has kind of figured it out for himself through some experience or reading.
For me, the concept that people we know could actually die came at the age of 12. It was courtesy of a boy named Emlyn Hughes. Emlyn was a short boy, very funny, always the joy of our class at Dubai College. His laugh was contagious and as he kept laughing, his face would turn a tomato red - it was quite a sight to see! For some reason my memory of him is so vivid.
School pick up time was at 3pm and we would all rush out waving each other good bye with the normal expectation of seeing each other the next day. Well there was one such day where Emlyn left school only not to return the next day. As his mother drove him home, there was a horrific car accident: someone went through a red light and slammed into their car: Emlyn flew out the back window. He was rushed to Rashid hospital but it was too late. The next day we all came into school to be faced with the reality of what had happened. The school flag was flown at half mast (the only time that ever happened in my 7 years at Dubai College) and it took his entire class several weeks to come to terms with what had happened.
I often think of Emlyn. I google his name to see if any of his family members have put up a post about him. But life before the internet was not kind to preserving the memories of those that have left us. I remember his mother so clearly. He had a younger brother who I hope has moved on.
Thanks to Emlyn I now belt up when I sit in the back seat of a car. I ensure my family does too. A few years ago a colleague of my wife had her face disfigured when sitting at the back of a car, unbelted. I'm not quite sure why putting on seat belts at the back of the car has not yet been mandated by law. I know in the UK it is. But I personally don't need a law to tell me what I need to do when sitting in the back seat of a car. Emlyn Hughes did that for me. God bless him.