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This morning, just like all of us, I woke to more heart-wrenching news from Orlando: A 2-year-old boy was missing after being pulled into the water by
an alligator, while playing on a beach at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. My heart stopped.
Just 2 years old, I keep thinking. He was only 2 years old.
I myself have a son who is 2 years old. My fourth child and the baby of our family. My mind immediately wandered to the parents: Was he their baby too?
Or perhaps the oldest brother? Maybe even their one and only.
While other children may move you to rise tomorrow morning, one lost can never be replaced. The ache of losing my own brother so many years ago is still
a fresh sting some days; and my parents, well, you would have to talk to them to see how their hearts were broken. I think they have mended somewhat
in the years since, but the suture scars are still there, worn as a badge of honor for the love they bestowed upon their only son.
It is not even close to what the Graves family is going through now, though. My brother had been sick after a year of a terrible illness, and 19 years
counts as a whole lifetime, compared to someone who has just lived just two years.
Two short years; and today, his parents wake up and he is not there to chatter his excitement about the day. My own son Amos doesn’t chatter much yet,
but he does squeal with delight when we go to the pool, he says “Mama” when I get him up each morning, and he is a consummate cuddle bug. A perfect
specimen of what love looks like and feels like, and I bet their son wasn’t much different. Two-year-olds are beautiful mysteries and their unfolding
development always precious, no matter if typical or a bit slow.
I watched my own children run about the beach today. It was nearly empty, a bit cloudy, and predicted thunderstorms likely scared other potential beach-goers
away. But not us. There, I watched my Amos toddle around, dipping in and out of tidal pools; a leftover moat from yesterday’s discarded sand castle.
And yet I found myself wanting to freeze as I watched.
I think of Mrs. Graves: Did she freeze yesterday, at least in her mind? I have a feeling it all started off as wonderful. To say that I’m sorry and extend
that sorrow isn’t nearly enough. It never will be, of course; but I know that mothers everywhere, just like me, are grieving with her today.
I’ll make a promise though. I promise that I will hug my own son every day, I will burrow my face in his silky blond hair and I will breathe deeply. I
will remember the moment in my mind and I will tuck it into my heart. When times are tough, when anxiety or fears try to lead the day, I promise I
will remember. I will remember that my now 2-year-old is a gift, pure and wonderful. I have him today, only in this moment, and I will be thankful
for the gift of his life.