Saturday January 17th was just an ordinary day for most of us. Our family went skiing in the morning and then just hung out at home for the rest of the day. My oldest son invited a friend over. We all spent several hours playing games, laughing and having fun, then ordered out for pizza. Little did we know that just a few miles away, another family was devastated by tragedy. Ironically that family was someone both of these boys knew; it was one of their classmates (and one of their school’s bus drivers, too). Fire destroyed the house, the car, a pet and everything they owned inside.
When I learned about the fire, my husband and I were preparing to bring our boys to Boston for a Bruins game, something we had planned for months and were very excited about. But in that moment, my heart grew heavy and a deep feeling of guilt about my day, my home, my family, and my life clouded my joy. Sporadically throughout the day I was nagged by sadness, helplessness and distress. I wanted to reach out and make it all better.
Later that week, as my son & I drove home in the dark from our monthly date, I showed him the house. Ever since I heard about the fire, I had frequently talked to “LJ” about how it destroyed everything this family had, yet I knew that only seeing it with his own eyes would allow him to fully comprehend the extent of the loss. I pulled into the driveway and flicked on the high beams. Light spilled over what used to be a cherished home. Now all we saw was a pile of ice-covered rubble.
He was speechless. I knew that he was holding back tears. (“LJ” is very fond of the woman who owned this house. She was his kindergarten bus driver and they still exchange many hugs, smiles & waves.) Finally he spoke and his words sent a chill down my spine. “Mom”, he said, “what were we doing Saturday when this fire happened?” I reminded him about our day. He then somberly said “ … so when B & I were laughing & having fun, D & Mrs. R were crying as they watched their house burn down!”
As a mom I know that it’s important to spare & protect my children from harm & turmoil, and yet I am wise enough to know that it is also my responsibility to expose them to things that touch their soul, no matter how difficult. This will ensure that these lessons are learned, absorbed and humanized. It is my hope that their hearts will forever be open and their hands will always reach out to those who are less fortunate.
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