Thursday, May 12, 2011

On Bended Knees & With Broken Hearts

There are days on which I use this space to blow off steam.  There are days on which I use this space as a little laboratory in which to foment silliness.  Hell, if you have read or shall read what I wrote here yesterday you will come to discover that often times one piece wears two hats. 

Not today. 

I have mentioned in this space on occasion that in addition to having been born with a head whose circumference is Jupiter-like, I had the pure, unadulterated joy as a child of developing epilepsy.  To this day, I know not for certain how I contracted it.  All I know is that from as far back as I can remember and up until I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I had to take multiple tablespoons of phenobarbital daily simply to control it.  While most days it worked, some days it did not.  When it did not, I was quite the sight to see.  Fortunately for me, I outgrew it by the time I was fourteen or fifteen. Apparently the majority of the children who are afflicted with it and affected by it do so.

Not all of them do.

Brayden Carr is the son of Jim and Natalie Carr.  Jim Carr is now - and has been for more than a decade - an Assistant Coach on the Men's Basketball team at Rutgers.  I have honestly lost count of how many head coaches RU has had during that time period (I think Mike Rice is #3) but through the years, Coach Carr has been a constant.  In spite of the program's struggles, failures and foibles, he is a man about whom no one has ever had a bad thing to say, either with regard to the aptitude of his coaching or the quality of his character.

On Monday morning, Brayden Carr died.  He was 2 1/2 years old.  Brayden spent the final two years or so of his all-too-short life battling against epilepsy.  In yesterday's papers, two columnists who earn their livings writing about many things sports - including Rutgers athletics - authored separate, distinct and equally poignant tributes to the Carr family.  I have no skin in the game with regard to either The Star Ledger or The Courier News.  If I might be so bold as to make a suggestion, read both Steve Politi  and Keith Sargeant.  Doing so will break your heart at least a little, but it will be time well spent nonetheless.

A parent's worst fear is outliving our child.  In a world full of dangers, both seen and unseen, both known and unknown, we refuse to accept our own impotence.  We refuse to acknowledge our own inability to keep them safe from everything out there that can do them harm.  It is not a matter of being insolent or ignorant.  It is what it means to be a parent.  It is encoded into our parental DNA.  Against impossible odds and with incredible strength, Natalie and Jim Carr did all they could do to protect Brayden.  In mourning his loss, they honor his life and reveal to those of us who do not know any of the three of them just how incredibly strong this family is.  And shall need to be in the days that lie ahead.

I had just finished typing the final sentence in the preceding paragaph when I glanced up towards the left side of my computer monitor and saw a Post-It taped to it that contains this quote from Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."  Here's to wishing the Carr Family not simply condolences but also a safe journey on the road from tears to smiles.  I reckon that they will not begin their trek today but with the memory of Brayden emblazoned in their minds and on their hearts, soon they shall.  And who deserves it more?

.....just beyond the door lies peace.

-AK

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