Monday, March 20, 2006

Bittersweetness on a Stick

I learned today of the death of a little girl. She was a friend of a friend, unknown to me other than by description. That she was the same age as my daughter heightens my sadness. That she was a "special needs" child who apparently died resulting from something going wrong during or after an orthopedic operation is only part of the mystery and horror of it all.
I'm so proud of my friend for her ability to share her story with me, to make her real enough so that I can both celebrate her life as well as mourn it. I've thought about her, all day, and am reminded of another little girl I know who left the hospital worse than when she went in. I've thought about several aspects of the human condition, how we make things worse sometimes when we mean to do better. How we make mistakes, awful mistakes, more often than we'd like to admit. I see Challenger explode, and get angry every time at the stupidity that allowed it to happen. And it was right to try it again, and again, and we should not stop.
The truth is that we cannot stop trying. We cannot stop caring, and that's what's moved me all day long. I care about someone that I've never met today, their family, their friends, just because someone else led me to. We are all connected, whether or not we choose to be, and we do make it better by trying.
That second little girl I mentioned spoke volumes to me, one day, when I got to hold her in my arms. She could not speak, she could not even look me in the eye, or even hold me back, back then, but I sensed who she is, felt her heart beat, I can't fully explain it. She exists in a world of love and care, and she's slowly gained - she's trying and prevailing - some means to return that love and care. I delight in her accomplishments, because I've met her; I know what she's living with.
We live with death. We live with hope. We have each other. We have Love. These things I know. Today's been a practical application of them all. I mourn for a little girl I've never seen. I smile a bittersweet smile when I think of Mya. I'm hugging my Emma tighter, today. I just hope my connections bring more hope and Love than my mistakes don't. It's been quite a day.