A small snowstorm hit the city yesterday, and as a result school buses were cancelled. Schools, however, remained open. So we piled into the car and made our way in the car, through the snow on a two hour loop to all the schools.
I parked close to the school doors with my special needs son and we walked, hand-in-hand toward the main doors of his school.
A few seconds ahead of us, a lanky, tall, young boy, probably a grade nine student, went into the door. He had a backpack on and ear buds in his ear and was wearing a funky little hat. He didn't seem to have a care in the world, he was just a perfectly regular kid, in his perfectly regular outfit walking to his perfectly normal high school in a perfectly ordinary suburb.
For some reason, the juxtaposition between me holding my son's hand-my small, son, smaller than all the rest of the grade 9 students, and seeing this completely random teen made me pause and, unfortunately, feel disproportionately emotionally devastated for a fleeting moment. The difference between me walking my son, hand-in-hand into school for his special education class, right to the care of his teacher, the seamless 24 hour supervision, just created a momentary unwanted mental space for me-very usual, I might add.
My son gave me big hugs and kisses and played a little peekaboo with his teacher, and then I left him, smiling, happily ensconced in her care. From her care, to my husband's care and then mine again as the 24 hour care cycle continues.
Throughout the day, I wondered "what if" we had arrived a few minutes before, or a few minutes after? What if I hadn't seen that particular, regular kid? Was I meant to see that kid? Meant to have those feelings? Why?
I don't know if seeing another child would have had the same effect, but I can't be sure. After all, I didn't even see that kids' face-his back was to me. It was just the regularity of his life that made me-well, I guess really and truly grieve for a few moments for the regular.
Timing is everything, isn't it?
Later in the day, having conferred briefly with other parents who actually walk in my shoes, I decided-as usual-that the "what if" game is always a waste of time. I reiterated my "what if" mantra: if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.
(I guess that means I started to feel a bit better.)
Another mother sent me a virtual hug and reminded me that not just every grade nine boy will hold his mom's hand while walking into school, and give her hugs and kisses. I told her she was right and agreed that one must always focus on the positive.
Her timing was fortuitous as well.
I guess the moral of this story, and the reason why I am sharing it is to say that sometimes things hurt, and that it's not just OK, but essential. We need to feel, and to work our way through the very human moments of very human pain-especially when it's most acute-as it pertains to our children, our flesh and blood, the small humans that we have created in G-d's image.
It's OK to feel, but not to nurse pain.
It's better to understand that there is no such thing as "fair" and that some things-not all things-just suck and that there's no pill to make it go away, and no magical solution. Simply put, not all conflicts and problems have solutions. Some conflicts and problems can only be "managed".
I live by this: I acknowledge and accept that there are things that humans can never really "get over" but only "get through". That's the harder road to travel, but ultimately, the one with more chances for a joyful and meaningful human life.