I woke up this morning with my windows open and my air conditioning turned off. After a weeklong heat wave, today is cooler and the humidity is low. I was able to walk out to my deck, newspaper in one hand and coffee in the other, and not have my glasses fog up when I slid open the door. The birds sounded especially happy about the break in the heat and humidity. The squirrels were chasing one another through the tops of the giant silver maples, happily playing in my son’s long abandoned tree fort.
The weather forecast for tomorrow is the same, but the tone of the day will be quite different. There are some things in life for which we can find no deeper meaning, no upside, and no lesson. Some things defy explanation. There are no words that comfort, no gesture that takes away the pain. There are things that happen in life that we never really get over, things that we don’t recover from so much as just learn to move forward from. One of those things is the death of a child. No matter that this was inevitable, something that was determined at the very moment of conception. Tomorrow is the day we lay to rest one of our family; on what would have been her third birthday. It seems that all of the other stresses in life, the traffic jams, the long line at the grocery store, high prices at the gas pump… none of them seem to matter.
Today I will enjoy the sunshine, the cooler temperatures, and the birds singing. I will think back to vacations as a kid, elementary school, those awkward teenaged years. I will remember the long nights sitting up with my own baby daughter, her first day of school. I will think of sewing ribbons on her ballet shoes and the hours spent driving to the dance studio, the frantic search for prom dresses and leaving her for her first year away at college. I will think of being with her when my grandson was born. All of those things seemed like such ordinary rites of passage, and yet some mothers never have those experiences with their little girls.
As I enjoy the cool breeze blowing back the curtains, I understand that not everything in life can be explained. Sometimes we just have to accept that life can be terribly cruel and unfair. We need to look at those mundane, everyday things like shopping for school clothes and music lessons and making snacks and realize that they aren’t chores, but gifts. Being able to nag our kids about cleaning their rooms or doing their homework is a blessing. Having memories of those things after our children are grown adults is something we need to cherish. Not all parents are so fortunate.