Every time that a major tragedy occurs, I feel the need to write one of these letters. They are not always about tragedies, but my letters are always about important things that I hope my boys will know. I can’t explain the world to them, and I certainly can’t explain why so many bad things happen, but I can write a little love note. So, someday, when they are sad, or scared, they will know that I have been there too.
Today, I feel compelled to write two letters. One to my boys, and one to another group of children.
Dear Baby Boys,
You are 4 and 5 now. Hardly babies anymore, but not big boys either. You are in the magical in between stage where you feel like the world is your oyster. You don’t know about guns control, mass shootings, homophobia, ISIS or any of that other scary stuff.
I wish you would never have to know about such horrors. But, you’ll learn someday. And, when you do, you will likely feel helpless and saddened and scared. That’s how I felt when I heard about the Orlando shooting. But, I also knew that my world was still intact while others’ were totally destroyed. And, I feel called to say something when other people are suffering. I feel it is important to always speak up about wrongdoings, no matter if they affect you or not.
But, you aren’t ready for that kind of thing. You’re still fighting over the water hose and digging for insects. You don’t know what is going on out in that big bad world. You are sheltered and protected. And, that is how it should be.
Today, I was thinking of how grateful I was for this fact. I am thankful that you have been spared the knowledge of so much evil in the world. You can live another day as little boys in a world of magic and wonder, waiting on your birthday parties and begging for Popsicles.
But, then I started thinking of all of the little children out there touched by this atrocity. Whether their fathers or mothers were killed, or an aunt or an uncle, or a family friend… There are a lot of children out there over the last few days trying to make sense of why their loved one was taken from them.
In a child’s world, everything is black and white. People are guilty or innocent. They deserve what they get, or they don’t. Life can be a whole lot grayer than that, however. My heart goes out to every child out there today suffering with the loss of a loved one at the hands of a crazed, murderous, hateful terrorist. These were not likely things that they could have imagined would happen just days ago.
Maybe they have been shielded from the details. Perhaps, they have been given a much less frightening version of the story. But, it’s hard to imagine that they have not seen the news, or heard something, or seen something. They know, I am all too sure, more than they need to.
So, I will write a letter to them, as well. And, I hope that maybe, just maybe, it makes its way to one grieving little one today and offers even a teardrop sized amount of comfort.
Dear Mourning Child,
Today, know that whomever it is that you lost did not deserve what happened to them. NO matter WHAT you may hear in the media or on the TV. What happened to your loved one is unspeakable, cowardly and evil.
Don’t let anyone pretend that what happened did not have anything to do with who your loved one was. It is an unfortunate truth that your loved one was attacked on the basis of a lifestyle choice. There are some who will say it wasn’t about that. But, it was. Your loved one deserves your respectful acknowledgment of what happened to them. Never let people change their story, or yours.
There will be people who will claim to be glad about the fact that your loved one died and this is a sickness that will eat them alive. You do not need to participate in any debate with such people. They don’t deserve a response from you. They will add no value to your life and will only make you angry, like them.
Be proud of your loved one for having the courage and self-worth to be at a gay bar. They were being their most authentic selves in a room full of people just like them. They were enjoying their lives. They refused to keep their lives a secret.
Never live in fear. Stand up straight and tall. Don’t let this kind of violence shut you down. You may not be gay, but there will be something, someday, that you will likely wish to hide about yourself. You may not fear death, just bullying, or mean looks. But, whenever you have the chance, you should stand up to that kind of hypocrisy. This incident is going to cause you a great deal of personal turmoil, and will likely incite fear in your young heart. But, try not to let that fear win.
On the bad days, when you’re missing them so desperately that your whole body hurts, remember that the vast majority of Americans mourned right alongside you. Remember that we are still here. Though the media frenzy will die out, keep in mind that there are so many people out here in this crazy world who still care very much about what happened.
Most of all, remember that love spreads seeds and hate kills everything. Help the world bloom, if you can.
Someone out here who cares.