I opened the newspaper and began to read. When I reached the middle of section A, I instantly knew what this post would be about.
The headline read “2,000 attend Arizona girl’s funeral.”
The cover of her funeral program leapt off the page at me. In the middle of the program, there was a picture of a beautiful little 9-year-old girl with a smile that I am sure had lit up many a room. By all accounts, she was “full of innocent magic and curious about the world.”
Tears welled in my eyes as I looked back to the top of the page to see her mother, father, and brother. I am always very vulnerable emotionally when it comes to children. I usually cry when I see them ill or otherwise suffering. I always think that their youth and innocence should never be compromised or attacked by illness or the stupidity of adults, as reflected in the senseless violence of this baby’s death.
A parent should never have to bury their child. Yet, we must never question our all wise God.
My friend of now 35 years, Chuck, has always been a tremendous influence and big brother in my life. On one of my first days in college in New York, he adopted me as his little brother which led to his younger brother and the rest of his family adopting me as well. Over the years, we have traveled back and forth between New York and Cleveland, been in each other’s weddings, and sadly endured respective family funerals.
Last year, Chuck sent me via email the “2010 Handbook.” It was a litany of positive suggestions on how to approach health, personality, happiness, society, and life. The last statement said “last but not least, please forward this to everyone you care about, I just did.”
After reading the article, I looked up at the bulletin board in my office. I hadn’t really looked lately at Chuck’s “2010 Handbook” or the “21 Suggestions for Happiness” that hangs next to it. My eyes scanned the suggestions. “Don’t waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.”
My frat brother, who is a very effective mentor and role model, always tells the boys in his program, “Just in case nobody has told you today that they love you…I love you!” I asked him once about the genesis of that approach. He explained to me that he had taken an informal poll of his inner-city youngsters and was amazed at how few of them ever hear the words “I love you,” especially from a man.
My daughter is 15, a few years older than Arizona’s Christina Taylor Green. She never ends a telephone call or leaves the house without telling us (her mother, me, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even her 17-year-old brother) “I love you.”
I don’t know the Green family in Arizona, but I am bound by the commonality of parenthood to Christina’s parents. In my spirit, I am certain from Christina’s 1,000-watt smile, the various descriptions of her personality, and the metaphorical life she lived that she was loved greatly.
Giving love to others and knowing that you are loved are life-altering phenomena. It sustains 35-year friendships/brotherhoods like the one I have with Chuck and his brother, Ed. It is an indispensible tool for mentoring and parenting the growth and evolution of well-adjusted and successful children, like Christina Green, and I would like to think my own children. My fraternity brother will tell you that it changes the lives of inner-city young men, hardened to confusion, violence, and misguided values.
I hope that this senseless tragedy helps us all to understand that the things we have in common far outweigh our differences (political views, race, religion etc.). I hope that we don’t allow the people on the extreme fringes of our society to cause us to lose sight of all that we share. I also hope that we all become more and more loving towards each other; it is the ultimate anecdote and ammunition against those who profit financially and politically from our perceived divisiveness.
I am going to beat my daughter to it, and tell her and everyone else in my house right now that I love them.
I hope you don’t pass up an opportunity to do the same!
Read, learn, and share…..Have a Family Meeting!