Sometimes when I'm nodding off in my chair or zoning out at a park, I catch myself thinking of the little girl's funeral. I don't remember her name, and in fact never met her, but I vividly recall the bubbles we blew in her honor swirling above as Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" blared from the speaker that cloudy September morning.
How does one find themselves amidst strangers at such an event? I guess it's the same reason why I now cry during movies or feel pangs when I read certain pieces of news – a fellow parent's anguish can move mountains and summon spirits. In this case, a community member asked for support on the family's behalf, and so we came. Though truthfully, we came because they could have been us, and we would have needed whatever threads of comfort a community can bring when your child is ripped from you.
Alongside Stevie Nicks' voice, I most remember the grace of Mom and Dad as they shared their daughter's stories – of her penchant for laughter and of her "big blueberry eyes". I can assure you that in that moment there were no two stronger people on Earth. I wish I could tell you that I held my children close as I listened, but they were off somewhere in the park drinking from the fountain of innocence, where there is nothing that can match the euphoria at the top of the arc of the swing, and where there are no dead babies to mourn.
It's been just over a year – and just over one million worldwide Covid-19 deaths – since that somber morning in The Before Time. Every day, five thousand families mourn the premature loss of a loved one at the hands of this virus.
For those of you unencumbered by its effects, I ask only for a brief moment of your busy day – perhaps 5 seconds – to hold a stranger's loss in your heart as if it were your own.
For those grieving, I wish you the grace of the little girl's family that I had never met before and may never meet again.
For every member of a community, defined in the loosest of terms, I urge you to seek out those that would be warmed by your presence right now.
And for the little girl we were honoring that day, I hope you know that your life inspires this grown man to do more with his. More so, I hope that you're rocking out to your favorite song in Heaven.
* Cover image by Karim MANJRA from Casablanca, Morocco