The Light in the Darkness

CandlesIn April of 1999, I was about 3 months pregnant with my first baby. I’m sure I was still sick – throwing up countless times a day. But the excitement of being able to get pregnant following my husband’s diagnosis and treatment for testicular cancer kept me flying high.

Then the school shootings at Columbine happened. My immediate reaction was, “How can I bring my baby into this world? How can I think about raising my child in a world where kids can get shot and killed while they’re at school?” I was horrified by this incident. I still am. I can see the pictures of those traumatized high school kids evacuating the school with their hands held up high above their heads so police wouldn’t confuse any of them to be the shooter.

I can only begin to imagine the terror each one of them must have felt then and I wonder about the continued grief and deep sorrow the community must feel even today. I’m incredibly sad and sickened that this hasn’t been the one and only incident of it’s kind in America.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine texted from Minnesota to ask how Roberto and the kids were doing following the “incident” that she’d heard about in Portland. Having been in a meeting all morning and just then sitting down to write, I had no idea what she was talking about. I logged on and saw the all too familiar headline: “4 students shot at local high school, suspect still at large.” My heart skipped a beat as the headline didn’t identify the high school immediately. I froze with fear at the thought, “Elisa! My baby, my first-born, is in high school this year – what if it happened at her school?” I realized with relief that it was not her school. But someone else’s daughter, and 3 other mother’s sons were shot while standing outside their school on an unusually sunny and warm December day during their lunch break. And then I began to cry.

I cried for the families of the victims and the perpetrators of all of these horrible, unspeakable acts of violence against our children. All of our children. We are failing our children, all of our children, when these types of “incidents” continue to happen.

My heart was heavy yesterday. I was unable to write these words because I couldn’t see the page through my tears. But then I remembered that after my immediate reaction to Columbine – the shock, the grief and my intense questioning about bringing a baby into this world – these feelings were followed by what my spirit reaches for again and again: the light.

And so, last night at my son’s honors music recital, I was close to tears again. Not for the darkness that is a part of this world that we live in, but for the light. I sat for 90 minutes and listened to children ranging in ages of six to fifteen sing, play piano and electric guitar, or in the case of my son, saxophone, and I basked in their light. For almost sixteen years ago, when I was feeling lost and in despair about the state of our world, it was this thought that my child would be a bringer of light to an otherwise dark world, that helped me get through it all.

And so I share this with you, pregnant Mommas and new parents. Do not despair of the state of this world. Do not fear that your baby is coming to a place that is frightening and dark. Instead, be encouraged that your baby will also bring the light of who they are into this place that needs it so badly. Let their smiles, their laughter, their dancing and singing be your balm at the end of a day when all the world seems too heavy to bear. And let their presence encourage you to do more, care more and act more courageously as you move through this world. Let their sheer existence compel you to try and make this place one that you would be happy to bring a child into.

These are the thoughts in my heart today. Hug those around you a little tighter. Tell them how much you love them. And don’t forget that every family – no matter their skin color, their religion, their financial status, their background – mourns at the loss of their child. We all should, whether that child is ours or not.

Have you had similar thoughts or moments when the weight of the world dampened your excitement about bringing a baby into it? How do you find the light amidst the darkness?

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7 thoughts on “The Light in the Darkness

  1. Barb, so beautiful, my friend. Thank you for writing this. I did have the exact feelings when I was pregnant in the fall of 2001 with Sicily as 9/11 happened. “How can I bring a child into this dark world?” And our response to these kinds of sorrows have been much the same. Grieve the loss -so many of them, remember the tragedies are the rending of someone else’s heart and life…and be light, raising our children to allow theirs to shine brightly as well. And you Suarez all do bring such gorgeous light. Thank you for this encouragement to pregnant families. The light is greater. I love you.

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    • Ash – Funny, but I thought of you as I wrote this post. I couldn’t get myself back on track until this was written. I felt a little frozen and it made me remember my younger, pregnant self – and then I couldn’t help but want to write it for all those who might share my same thoughts. Thank you for reading and for sharing a similar heart.

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  2. Beautiful, Barb: thanks for reminding us that our children are often the “advent” of our lives — the lights shining in the darkness. Reflections like yours also helps to bring a lot more light. Thanks again.

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  3. Gene! Didn’t know you were reading! Thanks so much for your reply. It’s true, our children bring the light and share it so easily. That would be a great thought for the New Year – to bring more light and to share it freely and easily with others (especially those who need it!)

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  4. My oldest arrived just 9 days after 9/11. I went from enjoying my blissed out love affair with this ting little thing – to feeling the heaviest amount of fear I’d ever known. I felt I’ll equipped and helpless. It wasn’t until my little house filled that day with friends and family that I realized that what brought them all there was the “light” of this brand new baby. It was that moment that I understood hope! Thank you for your beautiful words! Love you!

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  5. This absolutely sums up my feelings this week Barb. The realisation we can’t protect them is terrifying, but the trust we give these children to overcome all the despair and ugliness in the world is what keeps us all afloat. They CAN make a difference and so often, they do. Thanks for sharing this with me today.

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  6. Alison: I know what you mean and it is this thought that helps me when the days seem really dark. Somehow those 5 traits that you mention in your post that you think help your kids move into the world become even more apparent as they grow older. You’re doing a great job with your littles! I hope you realize that! They’re lucky to have a Mum like you!

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