In between appointments at Duke, Brett and I would stop and feed Quinn, charge up phones and jump on the Internet in one of the many sitting areas at Duke Children's.
About halfway through our stay, we ran into a couple with a chubby, beautiful baby girl and we got to talking. The mom excitedly told us that the baby, who was five months old, was 3 months post-transplant (liver) that day for unexplained dysfunction found at birth. The baby had an armboard on which let us know she had just had bloodwork and we assumed that was the reason for their visit. Until the dad returned from the desk and said, "He's done - he should be out soon."
"He?" I asked.
Her son, she explained. It turns out that 1 month earlier, and only 2 months post-op on her newborn, it was discovered that her three year old son had leukemia.
I looked at Brett and knew immediately he was thinking the same thing as me - See, it really could be worse. A morbid game of Would You Rather.
Then that mom innocently said something that just stopped me cold.
It could be so much worse. His cancer has an 80% survival rate. At least there's something we can do.
WE were her worst case scenario - the woman who had endured a newborn's liver transplant followed by a three year old's cancer. Somehow, we were her unfathomable.
I think of that mom pretty often - the way it seemed to dawn on her as we abruptly packed up to go because I was on the verge of tears. And I thought of her again today, because I found my unfathomable.
Today, a 20-year old 'man' stepped into an elementary school armed to the teeth and murdered 20 children and 6 adults. Those babies were just months older than Colin, and their parents weren't given notice, they weren't given time, they weren't even given the opportunity to hold them as they passed.
Those parents were given nothing but nightmares and worse, daymares, of the course of events in that classroom. Of knowing their baby not only died at the hands of evil, but that - given their ages - they were almost definitely calling out for them.
And they couldn't get to them, couldn't hold their hand - even if not to change the outcome, but to be there to help them through it.
This is my unfathomable.
When tragedies happen, I have a completely unhealthy approach in dealing. I feel it is my obligation to immerse myself in it, to feel even 1/1000th of what those who are dealing with it feel. After all, I have the luxury of turning off the tv and walking away from the news sites; those parents don't. So I don't. I watch, I learn the names, I cry, I get angry.
To the parents - and friends, families, ClassMates - of those lost today, if I could take away an ounce of your pain, I would 100 times over.
No one should have to endure the unfathomable.