A Child's Grief is America's Gain

From the moment we had our first child Scotty and I decided we would be open and honest with our kids about why their dad can’t see. At first we would say, a bad man hurt Daddy while he was fighting for America. As they got older they asked more questions, why would someone do this to you Dad? We would explain how we live in America and how we have more freedom here than most of the rest of the world. Scotty would explain about the military and how men, women and families sacrifice their lives and health so we can live in freedom and safety here in America.  

We expected them to ask questions, what we didn’t expect was when our oldest Grady started asking very specific questions. Why would someone blow themselves up? Was anyone else killed? Has it happened again? We then had to explain that there is evil in this world, we told him about 9/11 and what happened on that fateful day. A few weeks later Grady came home from school, sat down at the table and cried, hard.

Nothing prepared us for this. He was 5-years-old.

It never dawned on me that he would feel the grief and sadness that both Scotty and I went through years before. Something was taken from him too, someone tried to “blow up his dad” and in the process took his Dad’s eyesight. I watched as he sat there crying because he would never be able to play catch with his Dad, he wept because his Dad has never seen his face and never will, he cried for the fact that although his Dad will be at every sporting event, he will never actually see him play. My little boys lost something on that fateful day when a suicide bomber looked their Dad in the eyes and pulled the trigger. The last thing their Father ever saw was that man.

Grady went on to explain that his teacher was talking about senses in school; eyesight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. He said when they were talking about eyesight he raised his hand and said, “my dad can’t see but when he gets to heaven he will get to see me.”

Grady cried, I cried and I prayed for wisdom.

We tried to explain the evil in this world is overcome by the beauty of what Christ has done for us. People might criticize us because we told our children too much too soon, but I don’t believe we did. When you look at our world today, the attacks in Paris and now Brussels, I feel many of the same things that I see my Facebook feed light up with. Sadness, grief and a deep longing for the end of such horrors, but there is always one thing that I do not understand. Why do so many people seemed shocked and surprised by events like these?

Terrorism is not a surprise for Scotty, me, my boys or for many military families. Suicide bombers, gross terrorism, injury and death are an all too frequent part of military life.

These are things that we have been dealing with for decades, if not longer. Of course, it’s abhorrent to hear of it happening more frequently to the public, but I often wonder if the public understands how the 1% of families who serve in the military are dealing with the consequences of terrorism daily.

A Child's Grief is America's Gain

I don’t say this because we want more recognition or pity, but I do think we need to stand in solidarity, not just with the people of Brussels, but also with our military who is out there fighting and working to keep us safe from terrorism. Because they are, every single day and the unease you might feel in major airports and subways stations these days have been a constant reality for our military for years.

The answer is not fear. Fear is exactly what the terrorists want and giving into it, even just a little bit, is giving them the victory. What I am advocating for is the same shock, horror and awe when you read about the attacks in Brussels as when you read about a private in the military losing his left leg in Afghanistan.

Recently my 6-year-old, Graham, sat down at the table and cried for his Dad, just the way that Grady had a couple years earlier. He said he was so sad that someone tried to kill his dad and took his eyes. He was crushed. But Grady was right there, he sat down by his brother, put his arm around him and genuinely consoled him. Our boys, though born after that horrific day, have sacrificed greatly too, their sweet innocent hearts and spirits are coming to terms with the fact that terrorism is a reality for them, for their Dad and for this world. The amazing thing is that even though they see the horrors, they also see the hope. They know that there are good people out there fighting to protect America from terrorism, they know their Dad was one of them and they know that there is a God in heaven who is good and in control.

So when the rest of the world is surprised by the evil of terrorism, this family humbly pauses and prays for the lives of all affected by such evil.

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