kids are the innocent bystanders. think hard before you have them.
that thought came ringing loud and true in many a conversation this week. it's been kind of sad. seeing some really wonderful children lose their family, in more than one way.
on Friday morning, I was emailing my best friend from high school about coming to Ro's bday. Then, I decided it had been a long while since I'd heard any progress on our friend Brad Selock who we grew up with and who'd been diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma, stage 4 actually by the time it was diagnosed in January of this year. I got on the web site the family has been keeping up, with photos and updates on his progress, pictures of his beautiful son and daughter. Though I hadn't kept in touch with him, I was really pulling for him and felt the connection come back that we'd had as kids as I looked through the photos. It had been passed along to me years ago that he had indeed settled down with a nice girl and had two kids with whom he could often be seen out and about in our little hometown. Sadly, I hadn't made it to our 10 year reunion or I'd have gotten some good stories first hand. Anyway, I was looking through the updates and saw that Brad was going to be coming home. I popped back to gmail and there was a message from Dad stating Brad had in fact died overnight. Now, I don't know if it's that he and I were at the same stage in our lives, or if that connection we had as kids just came back like that, or I was mourning the futility of life or what, but if that news didn't hit me hard. The first boy I ever held hands with. The first one I thought highly of in fact. Basically just a kind soul -- something I could recognize at 11 years old then all but forgot not too long thereafter. He got a bum wrap. Left the world like that. Left a wife a lot like me with kids just a few years older than our own. I couldn't stop considering the devastation. I've worked with grieving children in the past, in situations ranging from a parent leaving to go to war, to divorce, to long terminal illnesses of a parent or sibling....their little inner worlds are just unbelievable -- the combination of resiliency be way of general misunderstandings mixed with moments of otherworldly clarity. Being so much closer to the life source, children can spook you with their grasp of the eternal. So, when people give me that shit of "oh, they'll be fine, they're young" I know that's because they don't know what else to say, and considering the devastation of a child's psyche is too much to bear. Especially if the speaker has some responsibility to protect that young psyche. But it's real; it's real.
Brad didn't have a choice, but plenty of us do, I just think when we decide to have kids, you know, our lives are not really ever again our own. Our choices become their consequences. Our paths, with all those bumps, result in their bruises. Our psychodramas become their emotional baggage. Our lack of self-knowledge, their neuroses. It's a lot to toil under, that responsibility, and with such a high bar, failure on some level is inevitable. I suppose what I can give my children, when some day they come to me with the emotional scars of being my children, will be to tell them with a true heart, that I made the best choice for them as I understood it. Not the best choice for me, but for them. If I can say that without equivocation or qualification, then I've succeeded. There is no bigger trauma for a child than to be made to feel irrelevant or inconvenient. I truly believe that.
But...it's a sad, sad world.
Ain't that the truth.
(that link makes me question this whole new-found mother earth connectedness that i've been tapping into. because i really thot that douche was the real deal. go figure.)