Like all of you, this week has felt surreal. Like many of you, all I can think of is Martin Richard, the eight-year old boy who was killed at the marathon bombing on Monday. I’ve read countless articles, scanned through dozens of photos, and my thoughts always come back to Martin. My son Tom is eight and he could have very well been friends with Richard if we lived in the same town. Prior to Monday’s events, Blogger Amanda Magee wrote a piece entitled “This Is Eight” that moved me to tears. If you have not read it, you must: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amanda-magee/this-is-childhood-eight_b_2811058.html
For me, eight is so few years yet it feels like I’ve loved you forever. Your running and skipping and bike riding is done with such energy and vigor. Your daily zest for life is palpable as you draw, build legos, or try to beat me at Spot It. Eight is playful, and adores being tickled by Dad. Eight goes after snakes in the yard with a shovel, yet still cries when his ice cream cone falls on the ground. You sleep over at friend’s houses, confidently waving goodbye. The next night, you are happy to be home, curled up on my lap, reading together as you stroke a favorite stuffed animal. You share victories and losses with me, like the day a friend told you he thinks you stink at sports. Your eyes brimmed over with tears, but you emerged confident, assuring me he probably won’t make a good friend if he treats you that way. I felt so incensed by his remarks but was simultaneously overjoyed that your judgement is right on track. Eight is helpful in fits and spurts, packing recycling and wheeling down the trash cans with your dad on Thursday nights. Eight laughs out loud at slapstick humor like The Three Stooges and intently reads the Sunday comics each week. Eight snuggles with you in bed, begging for a few more minutes of your embrace. Eight is loving, kind, and joyful. Often times, eight can’t sit still. Eight taunts, teases, and sometimes badgers his sisters for hours on end. Eight is way down the path of childhood, and changes loom on the horizon. Soon your door will close for privacy, your towel will be snug as you head to the shower, and your reluctance to kiss me goodbye will only grow. Every day of eight is a gift to savor, and so to think that any other mother would be robbed of a child at this age is simply unbearable. Not another day of my life will pass where I will forget the magnitude of her loss and pray for her to find the strength to press on.
When I was a sophomore at Northfield Mount Hermon, a classmate had recently lost her sister in a car accident, who was also eight. She wrote a poem, and it was published in our literary magazine. Her sister was Megan, and when she talked about her, you could see sadness radiating from her face. I saved a copy of the poem, and found it this week.
You’d be in third grade if
And maybe you’d have red hair
I think it would be that way
But unexpected things have happened before
You’d be lively, racing up and down stairs
And I’d catch you in my arms
I think you would squeal,
Like all other eight year-olds.
But you aren’t eight
You’d be better liked by Dad
And maybe I’d be jealous
I think I’d still love you
But this is a song of you and not me
And we’d take the bus together to Grandma’s
And I’d bury you in the sand
And you’d visit me at school
I think that’s the way it would be
But thinking has never made
things the way they are.
And you’d be nine tomorrow
And you’d be mine today.
For Megan, For Martin, For Eight. We won’t ever forget you. How could anyone forget such children who served as daily reminders of all that is good in the world?