Parents waiting and weeping, hoping for word that their child may be a miraculous story of survival, but knowing deep down that it’s unlikely. It’s the very real tragedy facing families in Moore, Oklahoma today. It’s the nightmare all parents fear, but most of us will never experience. And yet, it’s a scene they are all too familiar with in the Oklahoma City area. They have been through this before. Devastating tornadoes struck the area in 1999 and 2003, and, of course, the 1995 bombing of the Murrah federal building. Those tragedies have prepared first responders, government officials, and rescue workers. But there is no preparation for losing a child like this. The heartwarming stories of teachers who sacrificed their bodies to protect as many as they could provide little comfort at this time to a parent waiting for word of their child unaccounted for among the rubble. It’s a horror that is feeling too familiar these days, and it shakes all parents across the country.
Watching it all through the TV and computer screen makes it seems all at once both distant and very close to home. It makes me wonder as a parent if it is possible to simultaneously plan for my children’s future and treat every day as if it could be their last. But reality sets in and I know I can’t parent and plan and worry, wondering constantly that they may never see tomorrow. But I can remember to shower them with love and hugs and kisses. I can help them grow to be strong and brave. I can nurture their instinct to live in the moment, to know pure joy, and to dance and sing and jump and run and paint and read and experience life without abandon, while my husband and I look down the road and prepare for their future.
Too many parents in Oklahoma today have been robbed of that future. It is my hope that their children lived full lives, because, like all children should, they lived their lives to the fullest each and every day.
If you want to help the families devastated by the tornadoes, consider making your contribution to Save the Children.
Editor’s Note: When a natural disaster strikes, it can be hard to know the right things to say to make children feel safe. Bright Horizons has provided some ways you can help comfort children in times like this.