Parents and Children

This won’t be what you’re thinking. First and foremost, know this: it’s not going to be some sanctimonious, all-knowing magical formula for parenting, because a) none exists and 2) people who claim to know it are liars.

It’s a terribly sad night in the hockey community.  Brendan Burke, the son of Brian Burke, GM of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, died suddenly and tragically today in an auto accident in Indiana. He was 21. His passenger, Mark Reedy, 18, was also killed in the accident.

As a parent, this is the kind of tragedy, if we’re classifying degrees of personal tragedy, that inspires feelings that simply transcend words.  I can’t even imagine the black hole that Brian Burke and Brendan’s mom, and Mark Reedy’s parents are hurtling through right now. It’s an unspeakable loss.

You don’t have to personally know these people to have your heart break for their loss.  I’m admittedly often cynical about ordinary people who stop sleeping and eating due to their grief over deceased celebrities whom they never knew or even met.  But this is different.  The parent’s loss of a child is something that awakens our darkest fears and inspires our deepest, sincerest sympathies. You don’t even have to be a parent to feel this heartbreak; a child imagining their parent’s grief is heartbreaking also.

I’m a hockey fan.  I’ve cheered for the Montreal Canadiens my whole life, since before I really understood or even watched hockey, as a little girl who immigrated to Montreal from South America before she was even talking.  Montreal was then as it is now; a hockey town – you live and breathe it, during the season and the off-season.  Anyone who knows the minutest thing about hockey knows that the Canadiens (Habs)/ Leafs rivalry is the bitterest one in the NHL.  As early as this very week, I was talking about Mr. Burke, his team, and his Olympic team (the USA, which he’s also the GM) with open disdain, and chuckling about the misfortunes in the conference standings of the hated Leafs.

That’s just hockey.  Today’s events are a thundering shock into sobering perspective: Family. Life. A parent’s child. The unique, indescribable connection between a parent and a child.

As a mother of a little 9-year old boy and 7-year old girl, whom I call my babies (much to their chagrin) and likely always will, the thought of what these parents are going through tonight; and any parent anywhere dealing with the loss of a child, whatever age; is something I don’t allow myself to even think about. It’s the kind of thing that I cannot imagine is survivable. At least not for the soul.

One of my Twitter ‘tweeps’ tonight said he won’t be saying anything bad about the Leafs for the rest of the season. Me neither.  Even though I don’t know Mr. Burke or Brendan’s mom; or Mr. & Mrs. Reedy….I have the deepest, most heartfelt sympathies for their loss.  My heart is broken for them and their families.


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