Last night, my wife and the other mothers of the girls in our daughter’s first grade class had an evening gathering to discuss the social dynamics that have been developing among our children. This was exclusively a meeting for the girls’ mothers, rather than for all the mothers, because the boys and girls tend to socialize separately (which is unfortunate).
Anyway, before I left for work this morning, my wife mentioned a few things to me, which had been brought up at the gathering, including some personal information about our daughter’s classmates.
And… It turns out that one of our daughter’s close friends had an older sister who died of cancer just three years ago… At the age of seven.
I mean, upon reflection, I realize now that her mother’s Whatsapp user icon is of her deceased older sister. It had never occurred to me why I’d never seen her. In fact, I’d always thought it odd that this woman’s user icon only included a picture of one child, all by herself.
Of course, the younger sister (who was four-years-old at the time) was deeply traumatized, as her parents essentially spent most of a year and a half desperately trying to keep her older sister alive… And, ever since, she’s been living with the chronic fear that the people she cares about might suddenly disappear forever.
Other girls in the class also had difficult personal stories that arose at last night’s gathering, but this one in particular struck a lance through my heart.
All this year, I’ve been anxious about our daughter’s interactions with her classmates, concerned that she might have some difficulty socializing due to her idiosyncrasies and her being a new student at school… But, as it turns out, some of the other girls are facing much greater difficulties. This is natural, of course – why shouldn’t it be the case?
Honestly, I can think of nothing more horrible than watching as one’s child or one’s sibling dies in childhood. It makes me cry. This innocent child’s story is exactly the classic example of utterly pointless human suffering that I often use to challenge those who believe in a benevolent, all-powerful supernatural being.