Against the Tide
Thank you all for your wonderful comments. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to pray for my family and for the family of my daughter’s friend. You will never know the comfort that your words have brought to my heart.
The Girl is coping. When Hugh and I broke the news to her yesterday, it was as though she collapsed into herself, I have no other words, she just... collapsed. I watched a vital part of her childhood slip away in that instant and, once again, I was angry. And, helpless; helpless to comfort her, helpless to recover that lost innocence. Helpless.
Never again will she eagerly accompany her father on a “surprise visit” to my office. Instead, every impromptu invitation will be met with vague suspicion and dread of hearing bad news. I know; I could see it.
I tried to help, as we cried together, I asked her to tell me three things that she loved about her friend; three things that made him special and that she won’t forget. She couldn’t do it, she wasn’t ready. So, I told her three things that I will remember about him. I told her how much I appreciated the fact that he always included the Man-Cub when he came to the house to spend time with The Girl. I told her how polite he always was on the phone, about how he always asked how my day was going. I told her how much it meant to me that he was always nice to her. She nodded her head in agreement at each thing. But, she wasn’t ready.
Last night, the Man-Cub had a baseball game and I encouraged The Girl to go. She didn’t want to but I could not bear the thought of leaving her home alone, so I pressed. I’m so glad I did.
A group of her friends was also at the game, standing in a solemn, quiet circle. As The Girl approached, the circle opened for her, her friends drew her in; embraced her. They talked openly about their lost friend. They shared their worries about his family and about the friends who weren’t there that evening; did they have someone to talk to? Were they being comforted? They devised a phone-chain, a plan for connecting with the other children to ascertain everyone’s welfare. They are each going to make a page for a scrapbook for their friend’s mother; a scrapbook about her son and about how much he was loved by his friends.
The circle broke up and The Girl wandered back to my side. She sat at my feet and watched her brother play baseball. After a bit, she turned to me and she said
He was cute.
He gave me chocolates for Valentines Day.
He was my best friend.
They are eleven and they did more to comfort one another in that solemn little circle than I, and the rest of their parents, managed to accomplish all day. They reminded me and every other grown-up in attendance about the awesome power that friendship has to heal.
They could not answer my “why” but they provided my answer for “what now”.
And they are eleven.