Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Sliding Doors

Here are the facts: A toddler is dead. 2-year-old David Pacheco was shot as he sat in his car seat on Easter Sunday. His mother was driving a car full of children to Easter services. Police believe her minivan drove through someone else's gun fight on East Tremont Avenue in The Bronx. Shots were fired. One bullet pierced a rear passenger door. A sliding door. In the car seat on the other side sat 2-year-old David Pacheco. Despite frantic efforts to perform CPR at the scene, the toddler was lifeless on arrival at the hospital.

I spent tonight writing about another senseless death. What are the odds of that bullet being fired at just the right angle at the exact moment a vehicle drove past? What if David was sitting in a different seat? What if his mom missed the last red light? What if she was driving a bit slower? What if the gunman had fired a second later. The what ifs will drive you insane.

What's the closest you came to death and didn't know it? What if you walked down one street and had you chosen the other you would have been hit by a car? What if you stopped on the yellow light and seconds later a car came roaring through the intersection and had you tried to make the yellow you would surely have been T-boned? Again, the what ifs will drive you crazy.

Like Sliding Doors starring that pink-faced Gwyneth Paltrow... A London woman's love life and career both hinge, unknown to her, on whether or not she catches a train. We see it both ways, in parallel. When the sliding doors of the tube car close on her, we get a glimpse of what would have happened if she'd made the train, and if she hadn't. It's a startling look at the little things that add up to one big thing. Life or death.

A fellow blogger and father of three, who knows I work in the news industry, emailed me the following:

"But here's what I couldn't shake today. Here's what I'm struggling with. David Pacheco. My guess is that you've already had your fill; already had to write/produce the stories. I found the intersection of W. Tremont and Harrison Ave. on the map today... and may try to find the words to deal with the fact that, not long before and after, and not far away, another three children were strapped into their booster seats on an Easter Sunday drive with their parents, only these three kids made it home alive. Can you imagine all the things in motion to bring that boy and that bullet together.... I feel shattered, Monica. Not sure if I'll pull the words together, but the picture of that bullet hole squarely in the center of that door will never leave me."

Reader Comments (13)

This is very sad. Two toddlers died in water drownings in Australia over the Easter long weekend.
April 17, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Cascadia
This post brings tears to my eyes. It's the what ifs that are really killing me. My heart breaks for his mother and family and for him too.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
The what ifs work both ways, equally. You just have to sometimes force the good ones to the front of your mind and push the bad ones aside. What if I hadn't taken that class where I met my best friend in life? What if I hadn't gotten that job where I met my husband? What if we hadn't had sex the night our first child was conceived? It's pretty much why I always say I have no regrets. Because if I had done just one thing differently I wouldn't have all the wonderful people I now have in my life, and I can't imagine I would be any good without 'em.

April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjls
this happened a week ago just a few blocks down from where I live, in Lindon Monica. A mother pulled up in the driveway where her older kids were playing in the front yard. Not sure how if 2 year old came running out of the house to meet his mom or if the older kids were watching him outside in the yard, but the kids went running up to the van, as well as the 2 year old, he hit his hands on the side of the van excited to see his mom and he tripped and fell, she wasn't aware he was there at all and the back wheels ran right over him. He was killed instantly. I just can't imagine that mother getting out of the van and seeing her sweet baby crushed, by the very van she was driving. I would never ever get over that, never. I hear she isn't doing very well at all.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
Although the above post is sad, it's a tragic accident and no one is at fault. The idiots in New York City who wave guns around neighborhoods make me angrier than just about anything. Guns terrify me. I saw the newscast about David Pacheco. Hearing David's mom talk breaks my heart
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
This is why we rarely watch the local news in our house. It bothers me enough just with the general sense that somewhere, at this very moment, a senseless tragedy is striking someone's life. To have life's camera focus on a few droplets of that ever-flowing river of sadness doesn't really help. All it does is make me wonder a "what if."

I know I can't hide from this forever; but I also know that when I wake up at 5am after a horrible dream, I can just turn the monitor up and hear my daughter peacefully sleeping. Refusing to think of that comfort being stripped of me may be selfish, but I don't care.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdu_dragons
No, it's not selfish to focus on your own peace of mind! Bad stuff happens ALL THE TIME. And it's not just the world we live in, bad stuff has always been happening ALL THE TIME. Millions died from the plague. Man meets beast, gets eaten. Methods have changed, but there is death and destruction everywhere -- and actually, the chances of you and those you love surviving to a very old age are better than they have ever been in human history. Life expectancy used to be what, 35? 40? Rare was the mother who hadn't seen one -- or more of her children die in infancy -- it wasn't a random bullet, but perhaps a random influenza germ, a polio virus. And that's just a generation or two ago - my grandparents, (most of you reading, your great-grandparents.) Think about it. Yet what do humans do, time and time again? They get through it. Most of them live. Where will all the angst and worry get you? Will it make your kids safer? Re-telling gruesome tales - we all do it, and I'm no pollyanna, but really, force yourself into some perspective, no matter how hard it may be sometimes.

April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjls
Remember in Sliding Doors though, that in the end, things still worked out for the best. I realize that's a Hollywood film and this is life but maybe there is some reason this tragedy had to happen. I'm not a religious person so I wouldn't go with the 'god's will' thing but let's hope there is something really wonderful that is meant to happen as a result of this terrible thing. Hope is important.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVan Ally
Makes me want to go home and hug my boys a little longer tonight.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCChild
Very sad! You are one strong woman Monica! Big hugs!
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I read this yesterday. I can't get this little boy's sweet angel face out of my head. Someone has to let us know when these terrible things happen, but I'm sure it's hard to have to write about it and see it over and over.

Hope you have a lighter news story to work on today.
April 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTrish
What a heartbreaker. Thanks for shining a light on the stories that would otherwise get lost in the mix.
April 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
I myself have been touched by this tragedy. And still when I see pictures of that easter day I cant help but wish I could change that day for her and the baby. I've been able to find her on myspace and I put together a portrait for her. I also met her in the Bronx where she lives we bought flowers for him and visited his grave. I cryed so much before that day that I just wanted to be ok in front of her. You know not to freak her out and bring out all her feelings the last thing I wanted to do was get her all worked up again.. Shes a wonderful person and her two daughters are beautiful kids they kept watching over my two yr old that day like little mothers themselves.. It makes me sad when I think about it but I cant bring him back I wish I could. I'm giving her a gift I painted Of him in Heaven with Jesus I hope she like it..
July 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJasmin

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