Over the past year I've come to value you all for the many things we share: recipes, stories of our kids, our varied takes on life around us. But I never could have imagined being so moved by the support, advice, and love that followed my last post. I'm so enormously grateful. Thank you to everyone who responded, especially those of your who did so from the perspective of your own loss.
Our community is moving forward , slowly but together. We were all strengthened by gathering in the school's redwood grove—the children's play area and the geographic soul of the community—for a candlelight vigil Sunday evening. There was light in the redwoods after all. We shared silence, tears, music, and some memories of the little girl we lost. Her parents and sister were not there, but I know they knew we were there. Many other members of the family were present, and we were heartened to see such a large family surrounding and caring for them.
At this time the parents are requesting no contact outside family, but when they are ready, we will be there as well. When I think of the mom, I think of an amazing day we had skiing last season at Alpine. I want to pull her up to the mountains, put her on skis, and push her down a big hill. And I will the first chance I get; I know it will feel good and maybe release a tiny bit of grief, if only for a moment. Maybe if you keep releasing tiny bits, the whole might becomes smaller and easier to carry.
A grief counselor met with the staff yesterday and helped them prepare for welcoming back the children tomorrow. Children are strange people. What I mean really is that they are different from us. For the adults, this is a horribly emotional and traumatic time, and many of us have moved through the past few days in a mental fog and blur of tears. The younger children have accepted it with an almost matter-of-fact placidity. Their friend is gone, it is sad, but it is the way it is. Their life goes on with an ease that we envy. The middle-school children are taking it harder. Their reaction is more like ours, which reminds us that they are not children much longer.
Tomorrow will be a day at school for remembering their friend as teachers lead them in music, art, and writing in remembrance of her. Since the beginning of the school year, the kids have been involved in building and playing in forts in the redwood grove. The two sisters had a fort of their own, and Sophie plans to spend some time in what tomorrow will be a vacant fort. And then, although there will remain sadness and processing to come, she will most likely skip away to go on with her day and her life. We will heal more slowly and the parents even more slowly and probably never completely. My hope is that at some point memories of this little girl will bring us all smiles, not tears.
Thank you again for all your thoughtful suggestions and warm wishes.