On New Years day, I wrote a little bit about the first day of the new year. It was titled “Cold-Hot-Cold,” the first term referring to the brisk morning temperature and a short motorcycle run with about 55 other (mostly) Harleys. The middle term was a metaphor for the camaraderie and the fellowship enjoyed by this odd but close group of extended friends. It also alluded, literally, to the beautifully sunny day we were so fortunate to have on this ride for the second year in a row. The last reference in the title was due to the pall that settled over many of us as we learned of the tragic drowning death of a toddler that many of us knew or knew of.
I am among this second group. I know the mother in passing and the child even less so, but many of my close friends were much, much closer. I am somewhat closer to other immediate members of the family, but to say that I have been touched in the same way as those who were intimate with the child would be a lie. I couldn’t be and to profess that I am is disrespectful at best. Today there was a public memorial service. There were many, many in attendance and all were connected in some way to this tragedy, as I was. It was not, however, about me or my grief. I am sorry for their loss and their heartache. I have all the empathy in the world for those who were close and the outpouring of love profoundly touches me, but I am not the one who is suffering.
This next part might hit a little close to home to those it may resonate with. All I can say is I mean no offense to anyone, but if the shoe fits…
There are those who will let no tragedy go without somehow turning it back upon themselves. In this case, there are a finite number of individuals whom this is about. They know who they are and if I might add, they did a damn fine job of not allowing the service to become a circus. There are others, however, who must be feeling left out. The spotlight is not shining upon them and for whatever reason they feel it necessary to claim some piece of it. Ironically enough, I am sure it is a “light" those involved would surely give up if that were an option. I am not talking about those who are quietly suffering - perhaps those who are more profoundly affected but not part of the inner-circle. They know it is not about them and they know how to stay on the sideline.
I am talking about (and to) those who claim to “know just how they feel.” No you don’t. No one can. And please don’t use this tragedy to re-grieve the passing of your loved-ones… you had your time, leave this for those who are going through it now. Don’t offer advice - if they want it they’ll ask you for it. Don’t despair when they don’t, because they probably won’t. Remember, it’s not about you. Don’t invade their privacy; don’t “help out” when none is asked for. Leave them alone - they know what they need to do, you don’t. You can’t possibly. They will ask for what they need when they figure it out and once again, no, you can’t help them do that either. You don’t know what they “need to do.”
I am not made of stone; I felt this and it hurts. But it is nothing compared to what those directly related to this child are going through. At the service, the baby’s mother said a few words. The pain she is feeling is palpable. Towards the end of her remembrance, she said no one could possibly know the pain she is feeling. I believe that to be true. Even those who have walked through identical circumstances would probably agree. It is uniquely personal - it has to be.
I saw a family come together when they needed each other most today. They have had to walk through more than I could imagine and probably more than I could bear. The past 10 days must seem like an eternity and I refuse to interject any personal desire for attention at their expense.
Go in peace, little girl.