We went away for a quick escape to Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios in Orlando. We learned while there that the older brother of one of Cameron’s life long friends died. All of our children have been in school together at St. Patrick’s for years and at multiple grade levels, all the siblings interweaving all of our families. When I heard the news, I felt like someone punched me in the gut. I cannot fathom the grief the parents feel. Their younger son has been on the other side of the planet as an exchange student to Krygyzstan. I thought his parents were the bravest people on the planet to send a child to the other side of the world so close to war. Now, these parents have the most harrowing, devastating, demolishing loss of their other child. It feels so inexplicable. It feels unfair. It feels cruel.
I grabbed my oldest son and hugged him hard and wept. I cannot begin to fathom their despair. When I first met the mother 13 years ago, my oldest son and her youngest son were in a play group. I remember her inquiry about whether our family was in Gainvesville “for good” or just a family in transition, passing through Gainesville because of school or work. She explained herself, “We’ve made so many friends over the years and the boys have gotten attached to other kids only to have those families move away. It is so hard on the boys so, we now only make friends with people who are staying in town.” I thought it was an odd but insightful choice and revealed a loving and protective mother who wanted to spare her children the repeated loss of playmates and friends.I have always respected her as an attentive wife and mother who made a lovely and comfortable home tat my son loved to visit and sleep over. She always spoke kindly of her husband and he was a kind-hearted man who spent time with his boys (and all of our kids, too.) He even offered to make some custom hand tied flies for my own nephew as a gift.
For all the kids who grew up with her sons, they will grieve deeply the loss of their friend. My son will stand beside his friend and support him, trying to help in whatever way possible. And our community and all the families whose children overlap this family will extend their arms and hearts and prayers and hold them tight. None of us are going anywhere, Christine. All of your friends are here to stay and ALL of us will stand true for you, Dave and Joe in this very dark time. We’ll stand in the dark with you. I pray the Lord and the Blessed Mother will sit beside this family holding them tightly for all else pales and falls hollow.