Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tears in the Garden of Gethesmane

...Well, every parent wants to keep their children from all harm. 
It's a primal thing. I was shocked when I first felt it so deep inside myself.
Then I had a conversation with a friend where I was afraid...
And he said:  "No, no you're a parent give 'em the best
because the world is gonna take care of the rest."
And that's true, you know.  The world awaits us all.
There's not much that parents can do about it.    

A parent's worst nightmare is to outlive our child.  It is a nightmare lived too many times to count in homes all across these United States.  It is a nightmare lived far too many times to count in homes all over the world. 

Among the stories that have gotten national exposure during the course of the past week to ten days is the story of nine-year-old Kaiser Carlile, a batboy at the National Baseball Congress's World Series in Omaha, Nebraska who died as a result of being struck by a bat, which bat was being swung by a member of the Liberal Kansas Bees.  One moment, the scene on the field was one seen countless times on countless baseball fields - a player in or around the on-deck circle taking his or her warm-up swings while awaiting a turn at bat.  In the next moment, the scene on the field was one of chaos and, ultimately, of tragedy.  Kaiser Carlile, who was struck by the bat on Saturday night, died on Sunday.

Half-a-decade older than Kaiser Carlile, fourteen-year-old best friends and fishing buddies Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos went missing off of the Florida coast on Friday, July 24, 2015, while on a fishing trip.  The United States Coast Guard located their nineteen-foot boat sixty-seven nautical miles east of Florida's Ponce de Leon Inlet two days later.  It had capsized.  There was no sign of either boy.  

In the week-plus since their boat was initially located, there has been no sign of either Perry or Austin.  The Coast Guard formally ceased its rescue operation at sunset on Friday, August 31st.  It was a decision that the man who announced it, Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor, called "gut-wrenching".  No one yet has accused him of exaggeration.  The families of the two boys organized a GoFundMe campaign in order to raise funds to continue a private search for their sons.  Four days into its existence, the campaign had raised more than $400,000.   

When one reads of tragedy befalling a child, one might wonder whether the particular tragedy could have been avoided.  And blessed with the gift of 20/20 hindsight, it usually takes no time at all to conclude that - of course - what happened need not to have happened.  But life is a forward-moving exercise.  Do not stand in judgment of those who grieve the loss of a child under the circumstances in which the Carlile family finds itself presently and in which the Stephanos family and the Cohen family hope like hell to not find themselves.  We do not raise our children to live inside of a bubble. We raise them to interact with - and to live in - the world.  That interaction is full both of promise and of risk.  

To think that you possess an ability that has otherwise eluded every other parent, both living and dead, through the annals of time, which is the ability to keep your child 100% safe 100% of the time is not merely farcical.  It is offensive. And it bears no relationship whatsoever to the reality of what it means to be a parent...

...or a child. 

"Jesus Was An Only Son" 
Bruce Springsteen - 2005


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