I took a drive along California’s Pacific Coast last week with my daughter. The endless beauty of Highway One between Los Angeles and Monterey is indescribable, so I’m not even going to try to describe it. I’m one of those lucky people who traveled for business, so I’ve seen many beautiful things in this world. I had a career that gave me so much, that taught me so much about the world and the people in it. What I learned from all that travel was that people are more alike than they are different. If there was one universal truth, one single thing I shared with people in countries all over the world, it was that we all had an abiding love for our children. We shared a strong desire, no, more than that, we possessed a will, a determination that they would be happy and safe.
The coastal scenery was beautiful, but it was the trip with my daughter that was precious. It was just the two of us, enjoying the beauty together and talking about everything in the world. Before and after the road trip, I spent time with my granddaughter – in her house! Imagine that! I met her “significant other” and her two adoring pit bulls (and spent a little time with my daughter’s two cats – old friends of mine). My granddaughter took a day away from her business (she owns a baby boutique) to spend with me. We went to the famous farmer’s market and to her special place in Los Angeles – The Last Book Store. That’s actually its name; it’s a fairyland for all who love books.
Funny where your attention goes when you stop climbing the ladder, when you abandon the rat race. You actually get to STOP and savor the things that are most important, the things that were there all the time, the things you were going to do when you got the time. Again, I’m one of the lucky ones who got to live long enough to begin doing those things. There was a time in my life when I thought I’d die relatively young, a time when I didn’t know that life could be worth the effort, a time when I thought life was cruel and pointless. Sometimes it still seems that way, even while I know better.
While I was enjoying all that beauty, while I was cherishing the time with my daughter and granddaughter, people in the city of Orlando were being gunned down. Mothers and fathers lost their children, a horrifying experience I know all too well. I heard thoughtful people on the airwaves saying that we would have to ask ourselves what kind of a country we wanted to be, what kind of a people we wanted to be. It was difficult to reconcile – all that beauty and all that horror, and that awful question: Who are we?
My opinion on the political will to end the ease of getting weapons of mass destruction – or the lack of it – is my own. I will not put it on this page because my purpose is not to engage those that take delight in controversy or those who need an audience for their opinions. That is not what this blog is about. This blog is for mothers and fathers here and everywhere whose hearts are permanently broken, whose spirits are crushed, whose rage and disorientation will last for a very long time. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not it is war, or crime, or mental illness, whether or not it is the righteousness of religious fanatics (and all religions have them, we have seen that), or the greed of purveyors of weapons that take our children from us. The only thing that matters in that awful moment is that our children are gone. Later, perhaps, we can take up a cause or fight for a world of peace, but not immediately. First, we fall into darkness.
It is for you who have fallen into darkness that I write this blog. I want you to know that I know your heartache. I want you to know that even as I have healed enough from the death of my own child to enjoy the beauty of this world and cherish the time with the children I have left, and with the dear grandchildren I have lived long enough to see, I can still feel the unspeakable agony of your loss. I want you to know that one day you, like I, will feel the presence of your children who, in spirit, are safe and at peace. To all the mothers and all the fathers who will not have a happy Father’s Day today, I send you all the love I can muster, all the hope I can gather, all the surety that one day, your heart will learn to live again.