Dear Little Man,
One thing that you will someday learn — as unfortunate as that may be — is that news of a tragedy spreads like wildfire. With today’s social media craze, it takes milliseconds to share news of any kind. I heard about a recent tragedy around midday last Friday, December 14th. I logged onto Facebook for fun, read a few vague but concerning posts and gathered enough info to learn that it had been a school shooting. A quick Google search told me the rest. Shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Twenty-six dead, twenty of them children. All of those children were younger than Sports Man is now.
And then, I did what every other parent in the country did: I thought of my own child. The light of my life, the sunshine in my heart, the force behind my continued existence. I thought of you, Liam. Without you, I would have nothing. That’s the magic (and the terror) behind having kids…you’ve lived your entire life without them and as soon as you have one, you’re not sure how you ever functioned before they were around.
There is a quote that I thought of in the aftermath of that sad, sad day. It goes like this:
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Right now, there are 20 sets of parents in Connecticut who have lost their hearts, and the hearts of people around the world break for them. I know mine did. My heart broke for those poor parents because I thought of you, and I wondered how in the world I could be expected to go on living if you couldn’t. In all of the details and press releases I’ve read about the children who died, it’s been mostly aunts or uncles or grandparents who comment. I can’t help but think that’s because the parents just don’t have the words yet. How could they? It can’t seem possible yet.
All of those Connecticut parents — or any parent who has survived the loss of a child — is a miraculous sort of hero to me. I imagine that they possess a type of strength that is simply indescribable in its vastness and its depth. It must be, to be able to survive something like that.
Without you, my beautiful boy, I would disintegrate, and nothing would console me. Everyone always says, “Our hearts go out to the victims,” but what does that even mean? In all honesty, it probably doesn’t mean much at this point. Those 20 sets of parents, that entire town is so enveloped in grief, it must be hard to see outside of it. But now I know what it means, because if I could give part of my heart to another mother who has lost her own, I would. I wish I could.
But you are my heart. You are walking around outside my body and it has never been scarier than it is right now. I have never imagined losing you and suddenly, that fear is not only haunting my nightmares, but my news-feed as well. That Friday, I read about those poor children and the teachers who died to protect them, and I cried. Being separated from you hadn’t hurt that much since the first few months after you were born. For the first time in a long time, I hated that you were two hours away. It usually seems so short but last Friday, it felt like too much distance to bear.
So I texted J. I texted her and I told her to give you extra kisses and hugs from me, from your Nay-Nay. And then she sent me this:
You were sleeping peacefully in your car seat, tired after a morning of Christmas shopping. I have never been so grateful to see a picture of you. I just needed to see you, to look at your face, and somehow, J knew that. I ended up telling her about the Connecticut tragedy shortly after (she hadn’t heard yet). I have no doubt that her heart was heavy with prayers as she sent Sports Man off to school yesterday morning.
Not truly being able to “raise” you, I’ve never thought of myself as the “traditional parent,” though I certainly think of myself as a mother. But this past Friday, I joined the ranks of parents all over the world, as our thoughts immediately went to our sons and daughters, no matter their age. Last Friday, we cried for our own children, along with the 20 that were lost that day…their light, love and potential taken so much sooner than it should have been.
I know I’ve said it a million times, but I’m going to say it a billion more, including now: I love you, Liam Hudson. I love you with my whole heart, with my whole soul, with everything I have. Your life will forever mean more to me than my own. I could not be more grateful for your existence or for the wonderful family you that surrounds you.
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”