There’s one less middle school student in my town today. One less Boy Scout, one less baseball player. One less swimmer. One less brother. One less son.
A boy died and our hearts broke. Time stood still while moms, dads, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and friends tried to negotiate the traffic jam of gossip and rumors and finally, sadly, truth. Sometimes you can do everything right and still nothing is okay.
Distraught parents comforted confused children. Kids looked for answers and teachers tried to console. Girls primped, boys donned baseball caps and Boy Scout ties and lined up to pay respects. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them.
Cautious teen-aged smiles and head nods dwindled as they approach the doors. Marching stoic into the building, being swept out with sobs and tears and crumbling knees. The kids feel the loss, but it is their parents that can’t begin to fathom such pain. It is only with eye contact and touch that we can connect to the mom and dad left behind. There is nothing to say. We don’t know how to act, what to feel. We don’t ever want to know how to stand aside your child’s coffin and comfort his friends who will grow up and grow old while your own is forever halted at 13.
We can pay our respects, we can cook and carpool and clean and mow and coach and teach – anything to ease their burden and avoid facing the undeniable fact that this could be any one of us. Any family.
This is my town. Where one boy dies and everyone loses a son.