No decision

A parent makes a hundred different decisions about their child every day.

You might not even realize you’re making them and most of them aren’t important.

Wake them up? Let them sleep a little longer.

This bowl and cereal? That plate and toast? How much cereal? What kind? Which kind of bread? How toasted? What to spread on it?

Most decisions are not that important.

Most the child never notices.

Some they do. Some they take a stand on even though they are seemingly dumb.

“I don’t want that cup, I like this one.”

“OK,” you think. What’s the big deal. And you either get the cup they want or you dig in and try to make them use the cup you selected.

“I don’t like whole wheat toast.”

“Since when?” you ask.

“Since always,” they say. “I never liked it. It makes me sick.”

Every confrontation can go so many ways.

And does.

But, you remember, most decisions are not that important.

But now some parents are having to decide whether or not to send their kids back to school and there is a chance that their child could get sick and there’s a small chance that their child could die.

But, you say, there’s always that chance. Kids die of the flu every year.

This is different. Whole communities are at risk. This isn’t the flu.

This spring, before all this happened, Maggie and I went to the funeral of a beautiful little girl. Following a service in a packed church and a burial at the same cemetery where Kim and Elena are buried, we headed back to a reception in the church’s school.

So many people felt the loss of this child and gathered to help hold up the family and each other.

And then the pandemic hit.

More than 150 thousand people have died in the US alone.

Many of them have died in hospitals without their family at their side.

We spent three days with Kim in the hospital after her accident. Her family and friends came to say goodbye. They supported us and each other.

But now it’s not safe to let families come in to say goodbye. The COVID patients die surrounded by strangers. Loving strangers. Hard-working strangers Hospital employees who see way too many people die that they just can’t help.

Those hundreds of decisions that we make each day for our children or for each other – most of them aren’t important.

There is no decision that that little girl’s parents could have made that would have saved her life. There’s no decision that Kim and I could have made that would have saved Elena. There’s no decision I could have made for Kim that would have saved her life.

Believe me, if there were, we would have.

And now parents have to decide whether or not to send their child back to school in the fall.

Somehow someone has decided that there is an acceptably small number of kids who will die as a result.

Their parents will have decided to send them back to school. Some won’t really have a choice because of their situation.

And now they live with that hole that their child felt and the pang that maybe they had had a hand on the shovel.

We shouldn’t force parents to make decisions like this.

I can’t imagine how painful it is.

Published in: on July 31, 2020 at 12:37 pm  Leave a Comment