Saturday, January 2, 2010

Some Things Can't Be Fixed

From the time that my daughter was very tiny, she would bring things to me that had broken and say.. "WIX IT!"

By some miracle, she always brought me things that I could actually repair with my somewhat limited abilities. She would look up at me, beaming, when I handed her back the now-repaired thingamajig, as if I were some sort of magical wizard. I would always tell her "I can fix anything but a broken heart."

Those days seemed so difficult at the time. We worked, ran to day care or school, shopped, took care of the household and worked to be the best parents we could be. In retrospect, those days were actually nirvana. There was truly nothing in her tiny world that we couldn't fix for her.

Now, at sixteen years old, and branching out into a world that is not always as perfect as our little nest, things happen that are not so easily "wixed".

First boyfriend. First breakup.

And terribly, last night the news that a friend she had met at a church youth retreat was killed in a car accident.

The girls had just talked about the holiday. They shared the common experience of being sixteen, going to the retreat last January, and the New Orleans trip last summer when they and 30,000 other Lutheran youth had converged on the city to attempt to repair some damage from Hurricane Katrina. The things the kids experienced together there were the best and the worst. Seeing a city and people ravaged by storm damage years ago, the horrible destruction, heat, humidity and spiritual sadness of those that feel deserted, unfix able. The girls were all to meet up again next weekend at another youth retreat. Instead, tomorrow Angeline, her friend Kristen, and their Moms will go to a funeral home and pay their respects to a friend. Not fixable.

I've decided that the single most difficult part of parenting teenagers is that both they and we come to the realization that there are things in this life that are just not fixable. As parents, all we can do is wipe the mascara from their cheeks and try to find the words to explain why these things happen.. difficult when we often grapple with the "whys" ourselves.

We pray that some healing and spiritual growth comes of it all. I've heard this existence of ours called the "school of life". I am proud to my core of how, so far, my daughter has handled it.

In New Orleans, the group of kids Angeline was with was doing their service project. It was revoltingly hot, sticky and miserable for them. They were, of course, beginning to be more than a little cranky. As they walked through a street, an elderly man called out to them, recognizing them as belonging to the Lutheran group by the "Jesus, Justice, Jazz" t-shirts they wore.
He walked up to the kids, thanked them for coming to help his city, and asked if they could pray together..which they did, right there in the middle of the street. It wasn't less hot or humid after, but the elderly man surely "wixed" the way they had been feeling by lifting them spiritually.
His gratitude that they and thousands of other kids would give up part of their summer to come and help a city that was broken and request to pray with them formed a bond that will last their entire lives, though they likely will never see each other again.

Tomorrow our challenge as parents will be to hold Angeline and Kristen's hands, put an arm around their shoulders, and attempt to convince them, and ourselves, that even though we can't fix what has happened to their friend, they can take comfort in the belief that a young life cut short made an impact on her world, that she both learned and taught others in this school of life, and that even though she never got to fulfill the promise of long life, that she has done what she was sent here to do. Godspeed, Tori. Though you were here a short time, you obviously touched many.

It can't be fixed..but we can attempt to put the healing of our love around our kids and hope it's enough.