Saturday, December 15, 2012

Misery Does Not Love Company

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.


  1. Beautifully written, Eileen! May you live in the comfort of those three beautiful babies! Your strength continues to inspire those blessed to know you! Thank you!

    Kristin Cangemi

  2. So beautiful and heartfelt, Eileen. I too react to these tragedies the way you do, for the same reason. I feel that it is my responsibility to know these people in their grief and sorrow, hoping that somehow that provides some sort of comfort or peace of mind for them. If you have not already seen it, I think you will like the post Maya Angelou put on her Facebook page: "Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family. It is impossible to explain the horror to ourselves and to our survivors. We need to hold each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes and say, 'I am sorry.'" I think this is what we are doing when we immerse ourselves in these tragedies. I KNOW it is what I am doing by so closely following the blogs of "my" NPD families. I am holding your hands, looking into your eyes and saying, "I'm sorry" in the hope that you will know that like you, if I could take away an ounce of your pain, I would - 100 times over. xoxoxo

  3. Eileen you have such a powerful way with words. You are able to communicate, so well, what we all are feeling, the sadness, the anger,the utter helplessness we all feel. I wonder if YOU know just how special so many people think you are!

  4. Eileen, I've never commented on your blog, but I've been following since you started. You are such a wonderful mom to Quinn and your boys, and I am so sorry for what your family is going through. You are giving Quinn a magical life, and I have loved reading about her fun experiences with you and your family! Your post today really got to me, because I have been totally immersing myself in the sadness and grief of the Newtown community as well--I always felt like I had an unhealthy problem with obsessing over extremely sad situations like this, but I really loved the way you described it. It's almost like we owe it to that community to learn about the victims and not walk away. I don't know how anyone with children could walk away unscathed by these events. My oldest daughter is in first grade and was born in June 2006--I just can't fathom, as you said, what those parents are going through. I wish no one had to endure any of these unfathomables. Thank you for sharing your life and your love for your family!

  5. hi sweet Eileen. we just were at the mall eating lunch and we had the exact same conversation. That I have had some people tell me they have lost a child suddenly and think it was easier b/c they didn't have to live each day knowing the end was coming. And then I have been thankful that I had the time I did with Trek knowing his time was short so we could make it remarkable and would have been sad if i had lost him suddenly. But I have to agree with you, losing a child suddenly at the hands of evil is my worst nightmare and not being there. There is no way to get through losing a child, it is too much for any parent to bear. I am so saddened for them too. sending you lots of love mama. xoxo