Must Read Moms: Speak Softly
Imagine This: A tired mother, a cranky boy, fading sun. Five o'clock at the park. Because my 6-year-old was blind and nonverbal, few activities kept him occupied for long. The swings, however, worked every time. That Sunday, I pushed him higher and higher, and with each arc, his smile widened and his laugh rang out.
The mother beside me made a remark about my son, his joy in the swings. Idle conversation, surely, but I knew the questions that would come: "What's wrong with him?" and "How are you?"
I left the playground, unwilling to engage her. But I went on to blog about the episode -- what she might have asked, what I might have said. I hear from parents often that the essay helped them cope, or that it's shown them what to say to a mother like me.
Two years ago, my son died, tragically, unexpectedly. As word spread, readers flooded me with photos of flowers on swings, taken in his memory. On his birthday, just four days later, I made my way to the playground and watched as the swings blew, empty, in the wind. With each arc, I remembered my son, and the mother I had met there.