Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Death of a student

Children die. All over the world. Every single day. From malnutrition, disease, birth complications and genetic disorders. By suicide. From land mines half-way around the globe, and from random bullet sprays in gang violence a few miles from my home. From swim pool accidents in gated communities, and horrifying abuse by mother's live-in boyfriends. They are left in locked cars in the Texas summer, or thrown from cars because they weren't properly fastened into a car safety seat. Children without life jackets at the lake, or active supervision on the playground. Some are attacked by the neighbor's Rottweiler, and some by the neighbor. They find loaded guns at home. They are victims of unspeakable crimes by parents who swear God told them to do it. Not the concern of the current administration, but impacting families every single hour of every single day.

It shouldn't happen. Not here. It shouldn't happen anywhere, but it always will. It shouldn't happen now, but our species is not as civilized as we fancy ourselves. In our fantasy mental version of modern medicine, children don't die. But they do. It's the pits. Life has no pause button and no rewind, and there's no guarantee that it will make sense.

When a child dies, it is "time out of whack" for the parents, my coworker explains. This week has given me cause to consider the death of a sweet, sweet child, of a student, and also to wonder about the siblings of the deceased. That concern for the young brothers has been lurking just off stage in my brain all week. What could I possibly say to the boys after the sudden death of their sister?

It was so difficult reading cards and writing letters when Fritzi died. Conversations were even harder. It didn't make sense. It shouldn't have happened. It hurt, and it still hurts. What helped me? I didn't "get on with life", or "get over it". Mourning is not like that. One doesn't just "get back to normal life."

The thing is, "normal" has changed. There's no rewind or pause. I work to accept the changes in the frustrated person holding the remote control and clicking without results. I am not in control, but I'm less remote.

Writing posts for this blog has helped me find a calm, safe spot. No answers or explanations. Just little hints at finding acceptance for myself, and some courage to explore changing relationships. Tiny glimpses of my life's purpose.

Writing has also been a way to Photoshop the mental images of my mother to find enhanced meaning and resolution. Some images needed to be blurred or to have the shadows softened. Other images needed the colors and definition adjusted. Sometimes the midtones had overpowered the highlights. The saturation levels required fine-tuning. Writing. Writing....

Woke up in the middle of the night knowing what I could tell the young brothers. I could tell them how I wrote stories about Fritzi. I hope I've written the letter in vocabulary the young brothers can understand. I hope they will consider my suggestion that they write stories, or make drawings. Writing has helped me more than I can describe. May these young brothers find a creative way to send their feelings, energy, sadness, creativity, and memory outward in a way that helps their larger family.

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