Certainly, children lose parents everyday. But this week, five of these children have names for me, have stories. Five of these children have broken my heart just a bit, thinking of them and what's been lost forever.
In one of these families, a mother died just a week after giving birth to her third child, a son who would join two sisters, age five and seven. In the other, a father leaves two young boys, also five and seven.
One family I don't know at all, but is here in my community. The other is the family of an old friend.
And for both, I am grieving today.
And strangely, it's not only for the future of these children in two different families, two different cities even - Mackenzy, Kacy, Jake, Jacob and Joshua - it is for their past, too. Of course there will be the future proms and graduations and weddings that will be less joyful because that parent isn't there. And there will be the chair at the dinner table that is so very empty at every special meal - and the ordinary ones too. There will be infinite future losses every single day, some too tiny for words.
But it is for what has already happened, that might also be lost, that is on my mind.
It is the little moments, the special shared intimacies between us and our children that, as they grow and change, are forgotten and replaced by other traditions and rituals that we and only we share, that I am dwelling on today. I think of our own family of course, and of the tiny, silly but oh so important exchanges, trials and tribulations - ones that have passed between us so sweetly as our children have grown from newborn to infant to toddler and child.
I think of the countless moments these parents, who've gone so suddenly, must have shared with their own children. Now those memories, along with the parent, might be gone forever.
So as a testament to them - and for our little ones too - I write down here as best I can the things I just don't want to be lost. As our two sweet peas richochet from one milestone to another on the way to growing up, I can feel the days, the moments, slipping away underneath me, like sand being pulled away by the tide.
For Finn. For Reese. And for the children everywhere who have lost parents, you must know this: there are a thousand moments that happen everyday that fill your parents' hearts and crush them and make them fill with pride. Know that beyond the birthday parties and graduations, there are these instances that truly bind us to you, that make us know you better and ourselves, too.
Finn: there will always be the night you fell asleep on my shoulder, your profile lit by the streetlight outside our window. There will always be the two weeks you were sick everyday with a different ailment and we clung together bracing for the next onslaught. There's you saying "bah-a-ball" for basketball and "gigi" for orange and "Ree" for your favorite person, your big sister Reese. And Reese, there is always the colic that plagued you for three solid months and not a day less and watching your dad walk you round and round the house for hours, holding you like a football, the only time you were content was there in his arms. There's you loving the water from minute one and dunking your own self underwater at eight months old, trying to swim like Esther Williams, smiling all the while. There is you teaching your brother everything you know, mostly sweetly, sometimes not so sweetly and him looking at you like you are the sun. Which you are.
Reese and Finn and Mackenzy and Kacy and Jake and Jacob and Joshua: know that even if you don't remember these moments one day, know that they, or something like them, something equally sweet and warm and life changing, happened and that those moments piled on top of one another to create the unbreakable bond that we will have with you, no matter what. No matter where we are. Or where we go.
Know more than anything, know above all, that you were loved.