There are no words tonight to express the grief that is felt in my small town.
A life, a very young life, was lost last night. It was one of those unforeseen, inexplicable accidents. The road was snowy, the night was dark, the kids were in the car, coming home from work at the grocery store. A skid, a crash, and a life full of promise was simply gone. Eighteen years of life, and the journey was ended.
How can we hope to make sense of this tragedy? How can we comfort each other? How can we simply move on?
Tonight I am safe and warm in my bright and cozy home. I have eaten a healthy and filling dinner, shared with the man I love. I sit now on my couch, a devoted dog resting its head on each knee. For me, tonight, life is good and I am whole.
But the terrible loss that another family is trying to survive tonight reminds me so sharply that my children are not here beside me. They are beyond my reach, beyond my care, beyond the safety of this comfy couch. I am reminded, yet again, that I don’t have the safety of the magical thinking that helped me through their childhood years. Each night, when they were small, I said the same magical incantation over them. “Good night, sleep tight. I love you!”
Now they are beyond my whispered prayers and gentle kisses. They are beyond my power to tuck them safely in to sleep, beyond my ability to keep vigil over their dreaming forms.
Tonight, as I go to bed, I will picture each of them, and I will hold them in my heart. I will see the merging of their beautiful baby faces and the young adults they have become. I will whisper into the darkness, “Good night, sleep tight. I love you!” And I will pray, with every molecule of my being, that they are safe for one more night.
Because tonight I know that there are no guarantees, and I cannot be sure that I will hold them in my arms again.