When There Are No Words

Posted by mwallach on July 13, 2011 in New To You, New Yorkers |

Dear That’s Life,
I am not in the habit of checking Facebook before I brush my teeth, but something made me do it this morning. Within moments, I was alerted to the horrific news from Brooklyn, the realization of any parent’s worst nightmare. I would like to think that this tragedy, this unspeakable crime, is an anomaly rather than reflecting something deeper, subversive and sick. Until it is proven otherwise, I will stick with that mindset. I am not sure I can get through the day otherwise.

There are no words to make this better, nothing to say to assuage the fear of every parent, who wishes to instill a sense of independence in a child, while still ensuring his/her safety. When is the right time to let your children walk, run or do anything that takes them out of your sight? When do we let go, or when do we hold them closer, tighter, afraid of what may happen if we don’t? I have no clue, each time challenged by this question, convinced I am further away from an answer than I was a moment before. Going with my gut, my instincts, I give my children some independence, as well as the tools to cope, make good decisions and stay safe. Confident that the parents of an innocent 9 year old who will be buried today did the exact same thing, all I can do is pray. There is nothing left to do.

Working in summer camp, surrounded by children, their smiling and trusting faces fill the halls as they walk from activity to activity. Music softly playing in the background as I work, a parent came to drop off his son who had awoken late. The family recently welcomed a new baby boy into the world, the father accepting his “Mazal tov!”s as he walked in the office. Israeli, the details of the baby’s upcoming bris were laid out in Hebrew, the words pouring beautifully from his lips, the excited father telling anyone who would listen. “B’ezrat Hashem (With G-d’s help),” he said meaningfully, as he shared the news, recognizing G-d’s hand in the birth of his son and the eventual official welcoming into the tribe of Jewish men. As the conversation continued before me, I was on the phone with my friend. We discussed the details of the Brooklyn tragedy, Nochi Korhn’s song “Ananim” – sometimes clouds reflect something deeper, sometimes they are just clouds – playing beside me. I had to take a moment to compose myself, the confluence of events hitting me like a perfect storm.

Only nine years ago, a father in Brooklyn shared news of his son’s bris, over-flowing with pride, excitement and love.
Today, he will help other men shovel dirt on his son’s casket, wondering where and how things could have gone so wrong, and whether he was in any way at fault. He will be reassured that no, of course, not – you are a good father, you did everything right – and I am sure that is true. Nevertheless, he will not be comforted, and who can blame him. There are just no words.

Music continues to play in the back as I try to finish my work. I have to stop, however, to put my thoughts, my feelings, and my tears down on paper. The next track plays, the words from the tefillot (prayers) we say at night as I tuck my children into bed laid softly to a beautiful melody. The name of each angel is recited, the child prays that the angels should take their places around him, protecting him in every direction.

I cannot keep my children in a protective bubble, nor will I prohibit them from ever leaving home. I will, however, continue to pray for their safety and longevity, G-d should bless them with both. As a mother, that may be the best I can do.

By the grace of G-d go I.

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