She dropped to the ground as every horrendous emotion ripped through her body. Devastation, heartbreak, sadness; the impact was so fierce her cries were heard by a neighbour. There she was on her knees, sobbing uncontrollably, holding something in her arms and hugging it tightly to her body.

The neighbour waited patiently until the distraught sobs had subsided a little and she could talk to her. With a gentle hand on her shoulder she encouraged her to her feet and helped to steady her. Looking into her eyes, all she could see was heartbreak, so much hurt, and a longing for the pain to stop.

She dared not take the crumpled object from the woman’s arms; it was strangely bringing some sort of comfort and keeping her calm.

With an arm wrapped tightly around the sobbing Mum’s waist keeping her steady, they made their way back up the path she had ran frantically down only minutes ago.

There they were met at the door by her husband. His face showed a worried look; she was having a very bad episode today. He opened his arms to hold his wife, but she looked right through him and walked past his open arms into the house.

His weak, thankful smile to his neighbour did not hide his own distress and grief. He too was broken.

They followed the desolate Mum into the house. She regained her composure and returned to her spot at the window. Watching the empty pathway and waiting. On a bad day, this is where she would stand, until her legs would give in with complete exhaustion. She would sit for a while and the weariness would make her eyes heavy and she would nod off. Each time she would wake from a fretful sleep and replay that day.

They sat watching her from the kitchen, talking quietly among themselves. The piece of plastic had been discarded to the floor; she had looked at it and wondered why she was cradling some random piece of rubbish.

She was coming back around. This episode was ending.

That one phone call had changed everything for them. Life had changed and would never be the same again.

She had been hit by a car crossing the street. Her pink umbrella had been found on the other side of the road, broken in two and torn. It had been instant, she felt no pain, they had told them as they stood and looked at a white sheet covering their daughter’s body.

The driver sat on the side walk distraught. They could not muster any anger towards him. She had run out in front of him, her face was covered by the umbrella and she did not see him.

It had been too late.