It is a reality that children die. It is a reality that is so painful that I hate even to write that sentence. I find myself haunted by the recent deaths of Syrian children. I can't get their lifeless faces out of my mind. It is just so horrible. Horrible beyond words.
I have to think about because as someone said to me recently, if you keep pushing the emotions away, they just keep coming back. We can't escape the sadness we feel for the parents who have to live out the rest of their lives having lost the most precious thing that ever came into those lives. We have to face the reality that the world can be unjust and cruel and when it is, it children that suffer the most. It is children that are on the front lines of the devastating things that people inflict on each other.
I need their to be hope though. I need there to be a way through the haunting. I need their little lost lives to mean something beyond sorrow.
A friend lost her child and told me about how the experience of his death was very akin to the circumstances of his birth. It's like he was born anew in different form. It's like he left but he lives on. Through her. With her. She will always be his mother. He will always be her child.
Another friend recently talked to me about how birth is a right of passage - one that we do not recognize fully enough as they do in other cultures that ritualize the birth and postpartum period more completely. We discussed how we have more rituals for death than we do birth despite the fact that they both often result in strong emotion - and for people like me, grief in either case.
Yet another person in my life recently asked me if I think that I am sensitive and I bristled, thinking that sensitive, a much maligned attribute, did not, in face, reflect me and my experience. When we reconstructed sensitivity as intensity - that is, the intensity at which we each feel emotions at, I suddenly understood that I am in fact, sensitive.
When I told this person that I am haunted by the deaths of these innocent children she suggested that I can do what is in my capacity to do as the person that I am. First, she suggested, make time to cry. Make time to feel my sadness at the loss of these precious lives. So I cried. Am crying. For their loss. Second, she said, focus on what you can control in your own life which means, focus on raising a child who is kind. Who sees atrocities for what they are and who fights against injustice and oppression in this world.
I have been sending breath and love and peace to these Syrian parents. I know its not much, but its something. These are things that I am doing in addition to community-based work for refugees and letters that I write to politicians so that I can count myself a global citizen. It is hard to accept that this is all I can do in face of dead children. I want those parents, left behind, to know that we are thinking about them. And we are so sorry. And that there are so many people who want the world to be a better, more peaceful place for all children. I want them to know that we care about them. That they are not alone in their grief. That we love and honour their children like our own. We are sorry. I am sorry.
I find hope in action so if there is one thing, anything, you can do today to help refugees, please do it. Here are some suggestions to hep you start.
May peace prevail on earth.