There was once a little girl who wandered the streets selling matches. On this day, she hadn’t sold any. She did not have even a penny to give her mother. One of her shoes were gone. They had been too big. A little boy had taken one saying he would use it as a cradle for his children when he grew up.
The girl was afraid the go home. She wandered the streets still. She decided to light a match. In the light of the match, she saw a warm stove, but the match’s light soon faded. She lit another match. She saw inside of a room with a hot dinner, but its light also faded. Another match showed her the face of her grandmother. The girl knew that when the match’s light was extinguished her grandmother would go away.
The girl lit one match right after the other. She saw a falling star. Her grandmother, who was now dead, had told her that whenever there was a falling star, someone’s soul was going to heaven. The girl saw her grandmother again. She asked her grandmother to take her with her. The grandmother swooped down and took the little girl away.
In the morning, the girl’s body was cold and lifeless. Everyone saw all the burnt matches thinking she had only tried to warm herself. They couldn’t have imagined what wonderful things she had seen.
Darn you, Hans! What’s with your death obsession? Why would you write a story like this?
Childhood deaths are horribly sad because children have yet to live their entire lives. This girl probably didn’t have a good home life. There was a good chance she was neglected. There was a good chance she was starving. There was a good chance she was sick. There was a good chance that she was beaten and berated. Children die all the time because of a bad home life. This girl was so scared of going home that she stayed out in the cold and froze to death. How sad is that?
This brings to mind a story I’ve heard; it’s a true story. There is a photograph circulating around. It’s of a toddler. This toddler looks as if she’s sleeping, but she’s not; she’s dead. The photo was primarily taken as evidence. The officer in charge of the investigation had the picture cleaned up. The child had been covered in bruises and all kinds of injuries and had suffered all manner of terrible things. The resulting picture was a picture that looked like a peaceful sleeping child, which was something this little girl had never been. She had never been a peaceful sleeping child. Her entire life had been horrible. The story of the match girl reminds me of this story.
Both girls’ lives had probably been awful almost the entire time and both died before they got a chance to experience life or at least be free of the torture that their lives were.
Many people have said many things about this story. It has been adapted to books and movies over and over and over again. We know how it ends, but we can’t help but be fascinated by it. It’s such an emotionally torturous tale. I do see a girl that was afraid to go home. I see a little girl that was desperate. I see a very hard and poverty-ridden life.
This story reminds me that we have to remember those who are poor. This little girl died because there was no one else to help her. No one opened their door and said, “Come inside and warm yourself up.” No one looked down the street and saw a little girl wandering alone and thought about how this was odd that such a small girl would be on the street by herself on such a cold night. Nobody helped her. If one person had stepped up, this little girl would be alive. It would have only taken one person, just one person, to step up and help this poor little girl, but no one did.
We can’t just all assume that someone else will help. Sometimes we have to be the helper. This story isn’t about anyone else but the match girl at first glance, but think about everyone who wasn’t mentioned. Think about who lived in the houses she was walking past. Think about who else was walking on the streets. Think about her mother, whether good or not, who surely should have noticed her absence. Think about the neighbors of the girl and her mother who may have also noticed her absence. There were other people involved, but no one did anything. No one helped.
Remember, sometimes you have to be the person who helps.
Years ago, there was a woman murdered right down the road from where I lived. It wasn’t that far at all. She was shot. I felt sorry when I heard about it. I didn’t hear the shot. I didn’t know it had happened until I started hearing about it from everyone else. Someone would have heard the shot, but apparently no one checked. She was found dead. If someone who had heard the shot had investigated why there was a random gunshot, then this woman might still be alive today. Maybe there was nothing that could have been done, but maybe there was. I’ll never know.
Do you think we always assume that someone else will handle it?
Do you think that people mourned the death of the match girl or just looked at her death as one more death in a long list of deaths?