Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's all we can do

"Saturday night we lost four of our senior boys coming home from spring break in Alabama.  Another car crossed the median and hit them head on.  These four boy's grew up with my children since babies and we are friend with all four families." 

My niece seldom emails, yet this morning the unopened message sat in my inbox. I already knew what had happened yet hesitated to open the message. There was pain in that message, a pain too far away from me. I am in Oregon. My niece is in Indiana. Too far, especially when you want to wrap your arms around a family in pain.

When I was young, the teens didn't go anywhere on spring break. In fact, I'm not even sure we got spring break. Now the kids pile into a car and go celebrate a week away from school. Mine never did. It wasn't even a question posed to me by my children. They were not old enough to go off on their own for a week with other kids minus adult supervision. I would not have even considered putting my children at risk. But this is the way I think. Not all families agree. I cannot and will not judge.

Years ago I worked as a volunteer at the local high school. I ended up being one of the adults in the school that worked with kids at risk. Many of these kids had suffered extreme pain. Some affecting their entire family. My job was to find these kids and get them to talk and into counseling.

One day a student handed me a note....a thought about taking her life. It was at the end of the day on Friday. The girl was leaving on a weekend retreat. I immediately called her and made her promise not to hurt herself. The promise was given. I then went to the counselors asking what I should do.

"You need to call her parents."

What!?!?! I was just a 'mom' the kids came to. Why should I call? Isn't that the counselor's job?

"Because she came to you."

I knew the parents. I knew the horrible tragedy that had struck there family when they lost a son. I made the call.

There was nothing I could do for the family except tell them to get counseling and to see that this other child, their only remaining child was in counseling.

We are not the cure-all for those in pain. What we can be is an unbiased ear available any time night or day.

My niece is roommate to the sister of one of the deceased boys. My nephews grew up with the boys. The families had known one another for years. I'm in Oregon. They are in Indiana.

I love Facebook for the immediate contact it gives me to those who are not nearby. I love that I can be in contact so easily. On Saturday, I chatted with my niece with the grieving roommate. I checked in. This morning when I read the email, I got on Facebook and wrote to my two nieces explaining how they can help their brothers, their family. Perhaps the focus on helping their family will help them through the pain of loss.

We do not have all the answers. We cannot protect the children from tragedy. We cannot make it all better. This morning I gave my phone number to my nieces.

"Call me if you need to talk. Call me for anything at any time. I am here for you."

It's all we can do.

1 comment:

  1. When I was doing my student teaching, I got a graphic introduction to this type of tragedy. One of our students committed suicide, and then a carload was involved in an fatal accident on the way home from a dance. So sad.