Monday, July 28, 2008

Ever Watchful, Like a Mother Bear

I just read an article about a Savannah toddler, sixteen months old, who was left in his family's vehicle, in their driveway, for at least an hour. Temperatures were at least 100 degrees. He had gone to a water park with his parents, siblings, and a family friend. The parents had taken two cars, and each thought the other had brought the boy into the house. How a toddler could be absent for an hour, unnoticed, seems strange, but it sounds like a tragic mistake more than anything else. They called paramedics who arrived to find him unconscious. Sadly, he didn't make it. The sorrow being experienced by this family is unimaginable, I'm sure.

As parents of young children, we can NEVER rest. The enormity of the responsibility before us is almost frightening sometimes. The need for support, so that parents can have at least a two-hour break here and there, seems so much more vital when one hears of these tragedies. I think we are more vigilant when we are better rested.

My grandmother had ten children, so I have many, many cousins. Some I have never met, since the family is spread all over the United States. I remember hearing, as a college student, the story of my cousin's toddler in Washington state. My cousin and her four siblings and their families were at their mom's house (my aunt's) for a family picnic. The toddler wandered away from the group and went down to the creek. I don't know how long it was before his absence was discovered, but his body was later found, having drowned, in the creek in the back of their house. I still remember the enormity of the pain I felt in hearing this story, even though I didn't know this aunt well, or these cousins.

Sadly, as is true in the majority of child-loss cases, the parents' marriage did not survive. They were divorced within a year. The father had been at work and blamed the mother for the tragedy, which is unfortunate and tragic, but understandable. Other than my aunt herself, this family had no spiritual leanings. They were completely on their own in processing their sorrow, and their guilt.

Very early, I realized that I am the safety conscious one in our little family. My husband has been known, many times, to leave sharp knives near the edge of a counter. He sometimes turns his back on Emily Rose, briefly, when she is in the bath. While watching the kids out back, he can get involved in catching insects with Daniel, and take his eyes off Rosey for longer than he should. Perhaps a mother has more instinct in regards to safety; I don't know. What I do know is that I have to be ever watchful, like a mother bear protecting her cubs. It doesn't feel heavy, most of the time. But when I am reminded of how tragic mistakes can be, the responsibility feels overwhelming.

I'm sure God, in his grace, has protected my children more times than I know. But still, he is all about winning souls and bringing glory to himself, more than anything else. A single life, to him, is not as important as a single soul. Our years on earth are so very brief, compared to Eternity in heaven with him. It is foolish for the created to think that the Creator is unfair. He is God - giver and taker of life. Paradise is waiting for those who accept his free gift of eternity, and when we get there, there will be no question that his love is enough.

If you are a praying person, please pray for this Savannah family. Pray that the marriage will survive, and that the family will know joy again. Pray, too, that they will either find God in the midst of their sorrow, or that the relationship they already have with him will be strengthened.

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