Our children’s lives must have a purpose. This is something we know in our hearts. The fact that their lives are cut short doesn’t change that. This is why the families of those children who were killed in Connecticut speak out, and do it so beautifully. This is why families set up foundations in the names of their children who are missing, or who were killed. It is why we have blogs and facebook pages in our children’s names. They were meant to be alive today. They were supposed to sing or dance, act or write, invent or build. They were meant to smile and brighten someone’s day. They were meant to draw us cards for Christmas. They were meant to fall in love, get married, have children of their own.
When they can’t do this, what do we do? We do what we can to keep them alive. Yes, I have a blog to help find Michaela because as of today she is still missing, but if tomorrow I were to find out she is not alive, I would keep this blog. I would keep her alive as I have kept her alive for 24 years. Polly Klaas is no longer a missing child, but her dad keeps Polly alive with his foundation. He lives out Polly’s purpose in the world in his own soul, by helping to find other missing children. Tricia Seymour is not a missing child. She was killed in a car accident at the age of 17. But her mom maintains a Facebook page in her name, so Tricia’s face remains always before the world, always alive in our hearts.
Robbie Parker is new to our group, but he stepped out of his grief and did a beautiful job sharing and honoring the life and memory of his daughter, Emilie. Is there anyone who can watch his interview about his daughter without weeping? I don’t think so. Is there anyone who can watch this interview without feeling that they know Emilie? She is alive in millions of hearts, not because of what the gunman did to her, but because of her father’s words.
It is almost impossible to find a purpose that can justify what our children had to endure, or even justify our own pain and grief and loss. And yet without a purpose, it is impossible to endure.
I joked to my daughter the other day that my purpose in life is to stand here and make other people feel better about their own lives. With some exceptions, people can look at me and probably feel that their problems could be a lot worse. At the very least, they can say, “Look, she’s still walking and talking. If she can do it, then I can do it too.” While this observation started out as a joke, there is something valid to it. I know, believe me I know, that sometimes it is hard to just keep on keeping on. It is hard to get out of bed, to stand up, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Honestly, if I can ever have a hand in helping a single person keep going when they think they can’t, that is a worthy purpose.
Robbie Parker said we will not let this define us. I think perhaps he is wrong about that. It may not be all I am in life, but losing my daughter in the way I did has definitely defined me, refining me still like silver over the flame.
To Emilie, to all those who lost their lives in Connecticut, adults and children … as Robbie Parker said, to the family of the shooter … to all who are swallowed up by grief, or by fear … I wish you love and peace.
|Emilie Parker, age 6.|