I thought it hard enough that my fourth grader's math lessons had exceeded my knowledge, and I had reverted to the age-old saying, "Go ask your father." (Hey, I'm a word girl, not a number girl.) But this winter the questions became so much more profound than math. Too profound for this mom. So I just had to admit that no one, not even Daddy, had answers.
This past December, my oldest boys lost a school mate who died suddenly in an accident. The questions that followed were all too predictable, but I was unprepared. "Why?" There are no answers or explanations for that question. It's beyond me. So, my children were faced with the reality this winter that they were mortal. A little bit of their innocence was taken away when that poor child died. They barely knew her, but they were so strongly impacted by her passing. My oldest son still talks about her. He worries for her family. He knows now that we all have expiration dates ... some much much too short. It's a lesson I had hoped we could avoid. And so I struggle with the "Why?" just as much as he does. It's so unfair.
Two days ago I read about the passing of Britain's Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin. The journalist in me mourned the loss of a fearless reporter. She had just been interviewed on CNN a day earlier, and I was eager to see her last report. The report warned that it had disturbing images, but the journalist in me didn't care. War is disturbing. But I was unprepared for what I saw. Colvin reported on a toddler who had been injured in an attack. She was in the make-shift hospital when the child was brought in. The cameras captured the 2-year-old's last few breaths. And I wept as I watched. Oliver's question "Why?" still haunts me. Why in the world?
That same day a dear friend of mine mourned the loss of a family friend's young child who had died as the result of a brain tumor. Those parents grapple with the same questions.
I don't know why such horrible things happen. I know as a mother I mourn for these children because my heart breaks for their mothers who will never fill that void, no matter how many prayers or kind words are sent their way. My heart breaks for my children whom I can no longer shield from bad things. It makes me almost feel helpless.
But, as a mother, helpless is not an option. So I hug my children a little tighter every day, about a dozen times more than I used to. I don't let them walk out of that door without telling them I love them. I find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments.
Just yesterday, Charlie (who's 3) and I went outside to play. It was an unseasonably warm 75-degree February day. But the wind was so strong. As Pooh would say, it was a "blustery day." The minute we stepped foot outside, Charlie heard the rustling of our tall trees that have refused to relinquish their withered leaves. He smiled so big and said, "Mommy! The trees are talking to me. They're saying, 'Hello, Charlie!'" Normally I would have just smiled and forgotten such a small, sweet moment. But how can I now? Every time I hear the wind from now on, I will hear it saying hello to Charlie. I will treasure these small moments because the tragedies of this winter have showed me how important these moments are. They define the life of a mom. And I'm so thankful for them.