It is amazing how much can change in a year... how outwardly everything can seem exactly the same, but in reality nothing will ever be the same again. Most days slip by unnoticed, flowing from one into another quite seamlessly and we scarcely remember them after they have passed. Not so with birthdays. Birthdays are special: they are a time to celebrate, but also to look back. We take stock of the past year, or many years, and remember to actually live in the moment and celebrate the day. These days can be joyous; occasionally treacherous.
Today, my nephew "TJ" would have celebrated his seventh birthday, surrounded by his family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. He would be seven -- a lucky number -- if he had lived.
He died on February 20, 2003, two days before his second birthday.
After several years of uncertainty about how to post a story I'd written in his memory, I finally posted it last June.1
Now, as the anniversary of TJ's death passed two days ago and the anniversary of his birth dawns today, I feel that it is only right and fitting to repost the piece here, on the newly redesigned ePluribus Media community page, to both honor my nephew and to further remind folks just how precious the young ones are in our lives. They are the hope for our future; we are their best, last hope that there will be a future for them to inherit. The legacy we have left so far, within the first decade of a new century, is not exactly promising.
The significance of this was driven home, ironically, by Melody Townsel's scary encounter which she originally posted on DailyKos on February 20th.2 Her 8 year old child, playing in front of their home, was asked by a stranger to help look for his lost dog. The person could have been innocent, might have really been looking for a dog, and the flyers he claimed to have put up -- which were never found by the police checking into the matter -- may have been pulled down. The person may have shown bad judgement. However, the "lost dog" ruse has become popular of late, and it is also quite possible that the man intended harm.
It wasn't up to Melody to decide that -- it was up to her to respond to the situation in a manner that she felt was appropriate. She did, and then posted about it in order to remind parents of a very important lesson that parents should pass along to their children. It wasn't a cry out for a legacy of fear and distrust but a call for parents to ensure that they've instilled an important lesson for their children's safety.
No matter the reason, the loss of a child is as tragic and terrible as the birth of a child is wonderful and miraculous. We have, through our children, the direct potential for imparting our wisdom (such as it is) and hope for the future through sharing of our experiences, informing them about our past and educating them to the best of our ability to provide them with the tools they'll need to navigate through life's challenges successfully.
The story of my nephew's passing is sad, but the hope, love and laughter he still inspires is wonderful.
Please keep that in mind as you read the piece that follows.