When we have children, we feel so much more. We feel a responsibility for teaching them about life and arming them with what we perceive to be the best possible ways of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns and tragedies. We may feel their pain, sometimes physically, but mostly as they deal with the emotional and spiritual bruises earned while navigating life. And we hold onto hope for the future, for a good future for not just our own children, but for all children.
My eldest, who is a deep sleeper, woke up and got himself and his roommate (who my son couldn’t even see in his smoke-filled room) out of a fire on Friday (the dryer in their apartment caught fire when they were asleep). A few more minutes and the smoke would have taken them both.
All I can think is, “He’s alive! He made it out!” Joe’s seeing it as a wakeup call, but everything he owned is smoke-damaged and the apartment has to be remade. (We did discover that vinegar in the wash removes the smoke smell from clothing.) He’s homeless and jokes that he’s ‘embracing his inner-homeless guy.’ My mom paid for him to fly home for a few days and the people at his work are pitching in to help him with new furniture and stuff. He’s both sad and grateful. It’ll be a process; the insights gained from something like this tend to unfold over time.
I have often wished (what parent hasn’t?) that I could smooth life over for my children, but we don’t have that kind of power. We can lend an ear and a pair of soft arms to fall into, but they have to grow through the pain, just like we have. That growth stretches us into wiser, more solidly understanding people, and the world can use a whole bunch more of tolerant, forgiving and wise people. We parents must ‘let them go’ and ‘let them grow.’ And thank God and the angels when they survive a brush with death.