When I was a little kid, my dad often worked nights. He was a television reporter and went where the news called. Being in a big city and a major market (Boston), that news often called him to tragic scenes: shootings, fires, kidnappings, etc.
I remember that on the really bad nights, he’d come in to the room my brother and I shared and just sit and watch us sleep. Sometimes I’d wake up and we’d snuggle or read a book. I’d ask for apple slices and peanut butter and he’d bring them to me without complaint. He’d brush the hair back from my brother’s forehead and sometimes shed a tear.
I didn’t always know what had happened on his shift, or what he’d seen. I don’t think I fully understood why it was so important for him to come home and find his own babies safe and sound, warm in footie pajamas and demanding only his time and a hug.
But I do now.
When I was a little kid, my mom worked days. She was a legal secretary and worked in an office. She had long hours, difficult tasks and not always enough appreciation, from her bosses or her family. Being married to a television reporter, she saw and heard the worst of what the world had to offer: shootings, fires, kidnappings, etc.
I remember that after work, she’d pick me and my brother up from school or daycare and hug us until we had no breath left. She’d come to soccer practices, play rehearsals, book sales. She’d sit outside my flute lessons and my brother’s violin lessons. She’d attend my 4-hour swim meets to watch me compete in one :30 heat. She’d braid my hair and wrap me up in scarves and kiss my cheeks, even when I pulled away.
I didn’t always understand that while the days are long, the years are short. I don’t think I fully understood that you never know when you’ll say goodbye forever. I didn’t understand, as my good friend Jackie Jovi often quotes:
I understand now. I understand because I have a child and because I’m an adult that has seen and heard too much. I understand from years in a newsroom and now, years as a news viewer. I understand that there are bad people and bad things in the world and try as we might, we can never stop them from happening to good people.
I understand, in a haunting way, how big the responsibility is to raise kids to not only be safe from evil, but to not be evil themselves. Is love enough? Are those hugs and kisses enough? Are the midnight visits enough?
I send light and love to everyone in the world that is hurting. I share your pain.