A fellow mom I truly respect messaged me yesterday morning.
“Our neighbor’s daughter died, a friend of my kids, same age. It was a freak accident and they are out of town…their son witnessed the whole thing…”
She asked, “Do you have any advice, any words to share?”
And I told her honestly, I don’t. What can you say to parents, a family, a community that suffers the loss of a young child?
I thought of those parents all day. I don’t know them, but they never left my mind.
I almost buckled
I almost buckled as my daughter, nearly the same age as this young girl, stood beside me loading the dishes. I reached out to touch her several times, ensuring I felt her warmth.
When my other daughter spilled fruit all over the carpet because she never pays attention, we were both shocked when I didn’t yell. Instead, I just asked her to pick it up and put the rest away.
And when all three of my girls started to argue about who should sit shotgun as we started our carpool to practices and lessons, I simply said, “Who is going to realize that this is the least of our problems?”
Every moment I spent with my girls I thought about the parents who would never have another annoying encounter or fight to break up or opportunity to give grace.
So many times throughout the day, I thought about that family and how each changed forever, and tears quickly sprung to my eyes. Unfortunately, It was not the first time such a tragic loss impacted me.
As I drove home last night at 8:30 p.m., after my daughter’s soccer game and another’s scrimmage and another’s horseback lesson and getting groceries and stopping to pick up a gift card for a friend’s birthday, I was exhausted and still needed to pack for a trip. I mentally went through my checklist when my daughter blurted out that she forgot her new, expensive riding gloves.
We can’t go back
“We can’t go back,” I replied curtly. “You need to be more responsible. And I’m not buying you another pair. You’re old enough now, this is ridiculous….” I went on and on.
After my mini-tirade, I looked back and saw my daughter’s head leaning against the cold window. All the gratitude I felt throughout the day evaporated in one small second of frustration.
I thought to myself, busy makes me ungrateful. All the little things we do FOR people, cause us to lose the gratitude we want to feel for the loved ones we have in this life.
I sighed deeply, and that’s when I stopped and listened to the words coming through the speakers in my minivan.
“I’m gonna love you, like I’m gonna lose you….”
Although Meghan Trainor was speaking about her lover, in that moment, she crooned only to me.
That is how I want to love moving forward. That is the kind of mother, wife, and friend I want to become. I want to remember that to love fully, to love with gratitude, you have to keep in mind that you can also lose it all in an instant.
It’s a tough line as a parent. We want to raise good people, but somewhere in that quest, we lose a little of the goodness within ourselves.
But how many stories like this young family’s do we need to hear? How many lessons do we need to learn?
I have no words of comfort
I have no words of comfort for this family who suffered such an insurmountable, unfathomable loss. I do not know how a parent moves on from such a tragedy.
But my message to the rest of the mothers and fathers still fortunate enough to spend this Thanksgiving with our children is simple. Love them like you’re gonna lose them. No matter what. It is a promise we should make to these parents, and the only way to honor the loss of a child gone too soon.
“So I’m gonna love you, like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna hold you, like I’m saying goodbye
Wherever we’re standing
I won’t take you for granted
‘Cause we’ll never know when, when we’ll run out of time.”
Be grateful. Be thankful. Be kind. Be love.
This post originally appeared on Facebook. It has been reprinted with permission.