Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Heart's the Tiniest Bit Broken

The Friday before Thanksgiving week, when I arrived to drop off Casey at school, neither of his regular teachers was there. I inquired about the dual absence and was told they were attending the funeral of the father of one of the boys in Casey's class. The little boy, like Casey, has a baby sister. His parents are somewhere around our age, I'd gather from meeting the boy's mother briefly at the Halloween party. That means they are in their early 30s.

This news of the death has really shaken me to my core. The wonderful preschool directors sent out a letter to all the families in the school, explaining that when tragedy strikes one member of the school, the whole school community is affected. It invited us to contribute whatever we wanted to the family and explained that the child's father had lost his life in an accident at home.

Why has this shaken me up so much? I suppose that one of the things that changes when you become a parent is that suddenly your mortality becomes important-- not just because you like your life and want to live, but because there are others really counting on you. This is certainly not to say that single people or married people who have no children have less meaningful or valuable lives. What I'm saying is that my mortality became a bigger concern once I had kids. And not just my mortality-- Jason's too.

I think part of why this family's story has broken my heart a little bit is because their world is not so different from mine. We have the same number of children, close to the same ages, who attend the same school. I guess it's a palpable lesson in how fleeting life is. I have so much to be grateful for in my life, and that means I have so much to lose.

I am at a loss for words to really express how I'm feeling-- except that I cannot imagine being in her shoes, losing a husband and being left to raise two small children alone. Their lives have been forever altered from the course on which they'd planned to travel-- and not by choice. And this makes me feel just. incredibly. sad.

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