My nephew Michael was born a little while after my Nana passed away in the early 90s. I remember at the time thinking it was an odd minus-one, plus-one situation. Some sort of weird cosmic math where one is taken away to make room for another.
When I was pregnant with Connor, my cousin took her own life. It was shocking. Horrifying. But, maybe because of the overlap (I was already pregnant), that time I didn’t think about the math.
Yesterday, Michael was in a serious car accident and he’s now in a coma. He and his family—my sister—live in Australia and they feel so very far away. They are so very, very far away. And I sit here, three months pregnant, feeling helpless and wondering why the universe seems to require things to be just so perfectly balanced.
Michael is young, having just finished high school. He’s smart, athletic, and cute. He’s also a really, really nice kid. Why does he have to have his life threatened when others are allowed to live on and contribute nothing to the world except pain and anguish? Why does that perfectly balanced math have to come from within my own family?
It just makes me think. Connor climbed into bed with me early this morning, curving his small body into mine. He was restless, though, as was I after a night of lying awake and wondering about things bigger than I that I don’t understand. My small boy pressed his cool cheek against mine and rubbed my wrist. I felt his soft hair and his little fingers and the in-and-out of his quiet breathing.
I kept him with me there in the quiet darkness of a day not yet begun and wondered how I can keep him safe. But I can’t. Ultimately—ironically, unfairly—none of us can do that for our children.
We just have to hope the universe isn’t quite so picky with the math.