1.) In the book I'm reading, Girls of Tender Age,the main character is deeply affected by the murder of a childhood friend. Describe a tragedy you didn't expect to be as deeply affect by as you are.
My cousin Debbie and I were very close as children, but drifted away as we grew up. The whole extended family did, actually, once my grandmother passed. I thought of Debbie occasionally, but we moved in different worlds, so I didn’t really try to contact her. We both had kids, both were remarried, but our circle of acquaintances and friends were worlds apart, and I just felt like I didn’t fit into her glamorous world.
Then one night, about four years ago, my mom called. “Debbie’s little boy drowned today.” I was speechless. I hadn’t even met her youngest child, yet my heart immediately broke for that little boy who was probably so scared and wanted his mommy. He had been left to the care of a family friend for a day outing at the local pool, and the friend got distracted and forgot to keep an eye on Conner.
I don’t handle death well in the “best” of circumstances, but the viewing and funeral for this beautiful little boy had me crying buckets of tears. Seeing Debbie break down, slipping to the floor with grief is forever burned in my brain. As I hugged Debbie at the funeral home, both of us bawling and holding each other tight, I could feel the years apart slip away.
I knew this was something Debbie would never get over. What I didn’t know was that the incident was going to turn me into a wreck myself in regards to my own kids. They didn’t know how to swim; they did the same thing Connor did and relied on “floaties”. I had become complacent. No more. I was so desperate to teach my kids how to survive in water, yet they were so resistant and nervous, that I bribed them with money throughout that summer. Thankfully, they learned, and are now like fish in any body of water.
But I still kept picturing my own girls in that little coffin. That image stayed with me, as did the memory of Debbie’s heartbroken sobbing. I couldn’t turn it off. Sometimes I still can’t. That this happened to a member of MY family, someone I called my best friend as a child, then it could happen to ME. My view became very fatalistic in regards to my kids. Why should Debbie lose a child and I get to keep all mine? We shared everything as kids; would we share this experience as well? I still haven’t been able to get totally free of this mindset, especially on the rare occasions I see Debbie when I have my girls with me. Does Debbie resent me? Or does she not even think of such things? I’m afraid to ask. I don’t want to be the cause of fresh tears either way.
So I try not to worry about my kids as best I can, and breathe a sigh of relief every night when they go to bed, safe and sound in their rooms. However, I have a daughter who is 21, takes a lot of risks and I worry about middle-of-the-night phone calls. I wake up grateful I was able to sleep through the night without a horrible interruption by the police or hospital.
Suffice it to say, this is going to be my life. Worrying about my kids, but to somewhat more of extreme due to my cousin’s tragedy. It’s exhausting, but as a mother, I have no other choice.