The beloved little daughter of a couple of Matt's childhood friends died this weekend. She was a healthy, thriving, perfect child, and then she was a victim of swine flu.
These friends of Matt's don't live near us, and so I haven't seen their child since she was very small, but she was a child, and so of course I knew her. She was perfect. She was beautiful, and precious, and sweet, and happy, and funny. She drew wonderful pictures, and she loved to play. She loved treats, and presents, and she loved her Daddy. She was quite like my own daughters, and her parents were quite like us. They doted on their perfect child. They bought her presents, and cooked her favorite foods, and thought deeply about what sport she might prefer to play. They dressed her well, and took pride in her accomplishments, and gave her bubble baths and kissed her hurts. They lived their lives in her best interests, loving her as much as a child can be loved, which is very deeply, indeed. They did not prepare for their child's death, if such a thing is in fact possible, because they didn't know that she was going to die.
The death of a child is so wrong as to be incomprehensible. I don't understand it, can find no solace or comfort inside of it, am made small and cowardly by the shock and the horror of it. I can't stop thinking about it, and yet I force my mind away from even attempting to imagine what her parents must be suffering. The sudden absence of one's beloved child? The sudden, complete absence of her? I begin, inadvertantly, to try to imagine it, and then my mind skips away, and I expect the entire world to cry out in outrage and demand that this wrong be corrected.
There is no way to understand this beloved child's death. There is no way to mourn her that makes sense, no conceivable way to comfort her parents in the wake of the greatest possible loss that anyone could suffer. I can only grieve, myself, and pull my own children closer to me. So that's what I did today, in memory of this beloved child. I hugged my girls often. I took them to the library. I bought them ice cream. I took them swimming. I fed them pizza for dinner. I watched a movie with them. And I took them to get flu shots.