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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

FOR THE LOVE OF A CHILD

Yesterday was a horrible day.  I witnessed something that I, who I believe can and have survived almost everything, could not.
Yesterday, I was present for the funeral of a 19 year old girl.  A healthy 19 year old girl; not that it would have been any better I guess had she not been healthy, but I would have been able to rationalize and/or prepare more.  I had watched this child (I believe i am allowed to say child because my daughter is the same age), grow up. I saw her at holidays in temple, singing in the youth choir, doing various presentations with the hebrew school and later in the Hebrew high school, and of course, always in the marching band at school. The particular year in Hebrew school  in which she and my daughter were a part, more than 13 kids had remained a part of the program. It was a part of who they were.  They might not have all been close friends and might not have "hung out" together, but they were definitely a group, and she will definitely be missed in years to come.
So yesterday, I went to the funeral, because, she was ANYONE'S CHILD. And I watched a Grandmother give a eulogy.  I don't think that its natural. I've watched grandchildren numerous times stand up to talk about what they have learned from their grandparents. But this woman stood up and showed the sign language that her granddaughter made her learn.
I watched as sisters stood up and read a gut wrenching poem about their sister, as friends and friend's parents got up to tell sweet and funny anecdotes about their lost friends, and then, I watched something I hope to never have to do.  I watched as a mother and father bravely stood up, to talk about their love for their child, their pride in their child, their sorrow for their loss, but their happiness for: all they were able to share with her, experience with her, provide for her, encourage for her.  Her dad talked about scuba diving with her and hiking and being on vacations together. Her mom talked about her community service trips, and how proud she was to help and watch her grow into an independent REAL and GROUNDED young woman.
When I left I thought, "Wow".  All I wanted to do was wrap my arms around my children and tuck them in their beds and keep them safe.  But I also thought about the trips we've taken, our snorkeling with sea turtles, eating giant ice cream sundaes at Disney, sitting on the floor of hotel rooms in the rain happily playing board games and eating chips, laying in bed all together to watch movies when tired on vacation, hiking in Wyoming, and even just sitting in our backyard together.  We've created memories together. We've put in time and energy as parents and as a family.
The young woman's parents said that she was taken too soon, but she was taken happy, doing what she wanted, where she wanted.  Our job as parents is and should be to enjoy our children, to help our children, to encourage our children, and to root for our children.  They only get one childhood.  It goes fast.

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