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The Mommy Memoirs: In the Headlines

It seems every time I turn on the television or get on social media these days, I’m filled with grief for another parent and heartbroken for another child I have never met.

Lately, sadness is every where we turn. Every morning another tragedy leaves us in disbelief and each night we hug our children a little bit tighter, rock them a little bit longer and pray a little bit harder.

The world that our parents raised us in, no longer exists – today’s parents face bigger fears than their parents dared dream of. 

Today’s parents aren’t allowed to make mistakes. Their children aren’t allowed to have accidents without the blame being placed on them. Holier than thou, “perfect parents” throw verbal daggers at them from behind computer screens while they go through the unfathomable.

When did this become the norm? When did compassion for people enduring tragedy begin to wither away? 

My heart is heavy for so many parents currently living their own worst nightmares, and maybe your heart feels heavy too. 

These parents are all of us. Their stories and their tragedies could be ours on any given day. Their children could be our children. Their grief could be our grief.

Two-Year-Old Lane Graves Killed by Alligator at Disney Resort 

“I can’t even imagine…”

That’s what I keep saying when someone talks about this tragedy.

But really that’s all I’ve been doing – imagining this happening to me. To my 2-year-old. 

I think about spending a magical day at Disney World with my family and heading back to our resort for an outdoor movie night on the resort’s sandy beach, just as the Graves family did.

I picture my 2-year-old walking along the edge of the beach in about a foot of water, and I picture myself – Am I worried? Do I think this is a bad idea? Do I have any fear that an alligator might come up onto the beach and drag my son away? No. Probably not. 

I think about the devastation, the self-blame and the loss that I would surely feel in their situation, and my heart aches for them. 

Not just because they will now have to go home without their son.

Not just because they will have to plan their baby’s funeral.

Not just because they will have to deal with the guilt of not being able to save him.

Not just because they will have to explain all of this to their daughter when she cries for her baby brother.

Not just because they will have to find a way to go on living after this.

Not just because there are thousands of people shaming and blaming them during the worst days of their lives. 

My heart aches for them for all of these reasons, but also because they are parents just like you. Just like me. Parents raising their children with the best intentions and no way of knowing that this day would end so horrifically. 

The Orlando Night Club Shooting

I don’t want to talk about the man who did this, or his motives. We all know who he was.

Instead I want to talk about Christine Leinonen, a mother who didn’t know if her son Christopher was dead or alive for more than a day.

If you watched any of her gut-wrenching pleas for answers on television, and you have any heart at all, you felt this woman’s pain and anguish.

Her son was inside the club at the time of the attack early Sunday morning, but was not listed as one of the 49 victims until Monday.

Christine kept vigil outside of a local emergency room beginning at 4 a.m. Sunday morning in case Christopher was brought there. She appeared on every news channel spreading his name and showing his picture. She was a mother desperate for answers.

Every single one of us watching her, knew that it was likely her son was dead. Maybe deep down she knew it too. 

But this mother would not give up on her son until every shred of hope was gone. 

Even in her weakest moments, she was strong for him. 

I have never met this woman in my life, but as a mother I felt such a connection to her. I wanted to hug her tight and take away her pain. 

Christine Leinonen and I may have nothing else in common except for the fact that we would both travel to the ends of the earth to find our sons if they went missing. But that fact alone is enough to connect us.  

My heart aches for her because she is a parent just like you. Just like me. A parent who raised her son with the best intentions and had no way of knowing that this day would end so horrifically.