Saturday, January 19, 2013

What's Your "Anything"?

“I would have done anything to save her.” When parents of dead children make this declamation; they mean it. Unfortunately, the “anything” was not available. For me, my daughter’s heart didn’t develop correctly, ‘nor did her GI system, which we didn’t know until her bowel perforated and she died. With prayers flowing and medical science using up all its options and me making one-sided deals with the great beyond, I held Caitlin as she took her last breath. And when her breath escaped, I wanted to go with her.

“I would have done anything to save her.” I meant it, and I still do.

Like many bereaved parents, I’ve come to see that now my child parents my heart. I am still her mother, and I continue to strive to be the mother she deserved. Which brings me to Sandy Hook, and why I will continue to invite others to consider supporting the “anything” that may save a child’s life. The “anything” that is only an option in prevention and not an option after the last breath escapes a child’s body. Knowing that prevention is too often dismissed and unappreciated—usually because observation of the results of preventive actions is difficult—I persist.

Why? Because Caitlin deserves the kind of mother who will risk the judgment and ridicule of others for what should have been her daughter’s freedom to be in a school without fear for her life. She deserves a mother who will aim to use respectful and factual pleas, rather than hurtful name-calling. She deserves a mother that will push-back against the natural proclivity of those not directly affected to end their empathetic mourning within about 5 weeks and return to hoping it won’t happen to them.

It will happen to someone, and rather than silently hoping, I’m asking that others consider acting as if they knew it would be their children. Is that cruel to name a parent’s worst fear? Or unfair and manipulative of parents’ love for their children? I’ll risk that condemnation, because I would have done anything to save my child.

What is the “anything” you can support? One of the proposed gun violence laws? Changes to mental health guidelines? Training for teachers and health workers to identify depression and prevent bullying? Suicide prevention programs? Gun safety education? And how will you support this “anything”? Letters to lawmakers? Reach out to individuals? Report that “off comment” to a child protection agency? Practice the lock-down procedure at your school, place of work, home? Take a gun safety class? Join a community watch group? 

With so many ways to engage in something, it's tempting to throw up one's hands overwhelmed and defeated that "nothing will fix it completely." Consider the bereaved parents and community members of Sandy Hook and their response to creating safe communities. They launched the Sandy Hook Promise that highlights the bereaveds’ impassioned plea:

I promise to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I promise to do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.

Prayer, hugging our children tighter, lighting a candle, and sending condolences address the first part of the promise. I’m inviting those for whom this promise resonates to consider how they might address the second part of the promise.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Caitsmom

    I just found your blog today and have been reading it. I am so sad to hear that Caitlin died. Going on her photographs, she was a pretty young lady. Obviously deeply loved.

    You mention, in the above post, the tragic events at Sandy Hook. What an absolutely hideous tragedy. With regard to the second plea - I can only say that I will try and teach my ten-year-old son that violence is not the answer. It worries me that he plays with toy guns (albeit the cartoonish ones children have nowadays) and I worry about him being exposed to violence on the internet etc.

    I am lucky not to have lost a child. My sister, who had a condition similar to DS, was ill all her life and died aged 32. It happened nine years ago and I still can't believe she is gone. I am lucky to have had her for so long. She was luckier than Caitlin. She would have loved Caitlin - she adored babies.

    I read what you wrote about someone saying they understood your grief because their dog had died - people do say that oddest things.

    I did miscarry four times and one of the babies had a chromosome problem. I remember someone telling me that it was 'for the best' that my baby died - I was speechless and just had to walk away. Best for whom, exactly?

    When Alice, my sister, died one or two people baldly told me that my parents and I would be 'relieved' in a short period of time. That was one of the worst things anyone could have said.

    Best wishes - thinking of you. I am in the UK. Hannah Patterson

    PS I have a website if you fancy peek. It's mainly just photographs - I did a trek along The Great Wall of China and the website helped me raise funds.