Yesterday we received news that brought us great sorrow. One of the Cub Scouts in our Pack, a little boy in Matthew's grade, was killed in an automobile accident. This child had a light about him, a tenderness that was so appealing to all who knew him. Our community is a small one, and this will hit everyone very hard. This is a little boy whom I have hugged, helped in reading groups, and thoroughly enjoyed being around.
We have 25 boys in our Pack, 25 little men whom we love to death. Each one has their own quirks, their own gifts and talents, their own unique way of seeing the world. For us, it is truly a labor of love to work with them, to be surrounded by the chaos that accompanies that many boys, to watch them grow and mature and learn.
It is at moments like this when one wonders why...why do things like this happen? Why are some children taken from their parents at such a young age? Why is a life snuffed out so quickly, as if it almost never existed at all because that life wasn't in existence long enough to make it's mark on the world?
He made a mark on my heart, this sweet little boy. His bright smile and easy going spirit will never be forgotten by us. 8 years old, 8 years on this earth.
It serves as a reminder to be filled with ever more gratitude for each and every day with my family. In an instant, it can all be lost. As parents, we never want to let our minds wander towards the "what if's", to contemplate the unthinkable, that we might outlive our children. Throughout their childhoods there are moments when you hear news like this about someone elses family...a death....cancer...an abduction...and you quickly pull your mind away from it, fear eating at your heart. Or perhaps it has actually happened in your own family, and you have had to climb your way through the grief to find the life that exists "after".
What can we do? We hold them closer for awhile, we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that things like this don't happen often, we have that sick feeling in the pit of our stomach for a day or two, and then the shock value of the incident wears off, and we slowly drift back to our normal way of viewing the world, convincing ourselves we are safe and secure, that nothing bad will REALLY happen. It takes such a short period of time for that gut wrenching emotion to depart, and then we find ourselves once again invincible, untouchable by such enormous loss and tragedy.
And yet the family it happens to lives with it forever, just as if it were yesterday. The mother and father forever ask themselves repeatedly "What if...what if we hadn't left at that particular time? What if I had turned left instead of right? What if something had delayed me by mere seconds?". Events converge to cause a tragedy of untold proportion, altering lives forever.
I know we can't always live in that state of hypervigilence, it is not productive, it is not emotionally healthy, it is not the way God wants us to live our lives. But you can bet it will be more than a day or two before I stop wanting to give Kenny, Matthew and Joshie extra hugs, and it will be months before I stop seeing this little boy's smiling face every time I drive past the location where his life ended.
While I know he will rest in peace, I fear his parents may take years to find that peace.