This World

I've been a little absent this past week. Not absent-minded, though I am that often, but absent here. I've been thinking about which blog posts to write and which to publish and what I could possibly say that matters, and I've been coming up empty. My heart has been heavy this week. But my shoulders are feeling all of the weight. 

Last week, as I called my mom on my way to dinner with Jason and Noam, I found out about the attacks in Paris, just as everyone else was finding out about them. I visited Twitter for the news, Facebook for the reactions and Instagram for the images delivering messages of hope. I sat down to dinner with Jason, who was following the updates. I couldn't yet. I couldn't bare to hear more than I'd already heard, see more than I'd already seen. It was self-preservation. But even moreso, it was the fiercely protective mother bear in me. Maybe if I didn't read too much or watch the videos, I'd be able to maintain that this world is safe for Noam. Maybe I'd be able to explain to him one day that the world is full of good people. If I read too much, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do that. 

I'm a big tree. My leaves extend far and feel everything around them and sometimes it can be too much. It hurts and it devastates and it's my beautiful burden to carry.

When I became a mom (this happened when I found out I was pregnant and magnified when I delivered Noam), my everyday anxieties lessened significantly - the little things just didn't matter as much and it was far too important that I remain level-headed and even-keeled for my baby - but the broader worries seemed to grow. Would we be able to provide a safe place for this little one to live? In which type of world will my baby grow up? How can I make sure we raise a compassionate, kind and thoughtful human? And, as a big tree does, I felt the weight of this child's world on my shoulders. 

When I learned of these attacks, I didn't worry for myself. I didn't worry for my safety. I worried for the world in which Noam will grow up and become an adult. I worried for the words I will one day need to find and share when it comes time to tell Noam about the bad things in the world, about the bad people in the world. I worried about how he would react. Will he be a big tree like me? Oh, I hope not as big, for his sake. 

When I was born, my family had a dog named Lola. When I was very young - maybe three years old - Lola passed. According to my mom, it took me several months to get over it. I cried constantly. I didn't want to see my family members leave me. I had separation anxiety. The daycare told my mom I should see a child psychologist. My family told me that Lola was driven to heaven. I believed you could drive to heaven until well into my childhood. And I'll never get over a pet's death. 

Lola's passing was not an attack, I know. But it was an intrusion into the life I had. My world until that point was safe. Everything I had known was right. And then something wrong happened and I was devastated. I'm in no way trying to compare this attack to my pet's death, but I am trying to understand how a child views the world. At the age of three, my world was my family - Lola included, and it took a lot for me to accept that my world had crumbled. 

So as I sit here, feeling my shoulders tense up and the pit of my stomach contract, I wonder about these things: how will I make sure Noam's world is not intruded upon in a way that crumbles him? How will I explain to him that good will defeat evil, that the light will outwit the darkness and that, while it may not always feel this way, flowers will defeat bombs every time? 

I don't have any answers to those questions yet. I just don't know how I'm going to explain the inexplicable, barbarous behaviors of other humans, and I'm not sure I'll ever have the words to do so. I do know, though, that I'm going to do everything I can to give him the tools to handle this world, to understand this world and to feel a part of this world. And maybe, with a little luck, a lot of love, and some lessons in tending to his leaves, Noam will be able to see the world he lives in as a place where he feels safe.

LifeCristina Toff2 Comments