When Amanda was two months old, we came back to Texas to show her off. See?!? We finally did something good!! We stayed for a few days at Neil and Donna's, where they were getting Barry ready to go on a church skiing trip.
"How can you do that?" I asked Donna. "Put him on a bus to go away to God knows where (actually? Breckenridge) all by himself?"
"You just kiss 'em good-bye, and pray a lot," she answered. Good Lord, I thought, what a heartless, uncaring mother my sister-in-law has turned out to be.
Well...NO. Of course she wasn't. I've thought about that a LOT in these recent springtime days, beginning with the Enterprise tornado, through the...um-m-m...unpleasantness here in Lamar County , and now this week in Blacksburg. How CAN we do that, we parents? Just put our babies on a figurative or literal bus, to go away to God knows where, all by themselves?
How hard was it for me to say to James as I sent him off to dear old P-High, amid swirling rumors that hundreds of protesters waited to block entry to the parking lot, "Be aware. If you see trouble, you be the one to walk the other way, and take all your friends with you." When, what I really wanted to do? Was to say, "this is not your fight. Stay home. Watch Smallville all day. School will be there tomorrow. Or if not tomorrow, then another day."
How much, can you even begin to imagine, do the parents of the eight kids in Enterprise desperately wish for another day, another lifetime to say I love you. Have fun. Be careful. Do your best. See you this afternoon.
Or the parents of the thirty-two in Blacksburg.
THIRTY-TWO. Lord Jesus.
What do they wish for? My mind reels to think of it: A different school choice. A class at a different time of the day. Another weekend at home. One more argument. PLEASE. Just let me see him roll his eyes at me one more time. One more hug. One more chance to say, I am so proud of you. You take my breath away.
Randy is amused that I follow Amanda's car out to the street as she pulls away to go back to Tuscaloosa, and that I will watch until she turns the corner and the little crimson car disappears from view. He DOES understand, albeit in a good-natured, must be a mom thing kind of way, that I just need to see her for those last few seconds. One more glimpse. One more heartbeat.
You just kiss 'em good-bye, and pray a lot.
Keep 'em safe, Lord. And bring them - ALL OF THEM - safely home...