Shared Experience

I depressed myself today by watching Becca’s funeral on livestream. It was actually an amazingly beautiful tribute, especially her father’s words. If you’re so inclined, he starts at the 31:00 mark here: http://www.fairmounttemple.org/worship/live-stream/ (under on demand- “Meyer Funeral”). But it was also absolutely gut wrenching. It isn’t fair.

I was amazed by her father’s grace, his strength, his ability to recall humor in the face of such tragedy. But I think it was his eulogy that finally made me realize why I have been struggling so much with this. When talking about the outpouring of love she had received, he said “she deserved it. But then every child does”. And that is it, isn’t it? Becca was “every child”. I am grieving for her in the most communal, spiritual, connected, and basic way.

Everyone talks about how becoming a parent changes everything. And it’s true. It is exhausting, but hilarious. It is frustrating and poignant. It is expensive yet rewarding. It makes you feel things you never knew existed, with a power and depth that has the ability to completely bowl you over. I don’t in any way believe that people who choose to have children are better than those that don’t. They are different kinds of lives with unique benefits to each. But the fact that your feelings and beliefs change when you become a parent is just 100% the truth.

One of those new understandings is that of shared experience. When you become a parent, you join the ranks of the millions of people who have come before you and the millions that will come after. When someone describes a sleepless night due to a child’s hysterics, you can commiserate. When someone describes an embarrassing public incident, you can feel the burn in your own cheeks. It doesn’t mean that every parent makes the same choices and decisions. It doesn’t mean that we as parents always agree with the lifestyles of others. But when someone describes the fear involved in potentially losing their child- whether to a real or perceived threat, you feel that fear, with every bit of yourself, in your own stomach.

It is true that the Meyer family came from my community, that we know people in common. Sure, maybe there is a connection there. But what I think resonated more than anything was seeing Becca’s bright, beautiful smile, seeing her full of life. Hearing about her personality full of love and defiance. She could easily be any child. My child. And reading about Kat and Eric’s struggles, their choices, their fears- they are every parent. It could so easily be Drew and I in their shoes.

I am so very lucky that their exact experience is not my experience. I own that they are going through something so horrific, there is no way I could ever understand it. But still, my heart aches the ache of a parent.

So today I grieved. For Becca. For the Meyer family. For the world losing a small, beautiful spark of light. And for all parents on behalf of all children.

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