I have an old friend I love dearly. She lives pretty far away, so we do not see each other on a regular basis. But it is one of those friendships where, no matter what happens, no matter how much time and distance separates us, we remain connected in an important and organic way.
Sylvia is a school teacher and the excellent mother of five. Four of these she raised herself, with constant affection and attention. The fifth was conceived over 20 years ago, and given to friends who could not have children of their own. This beautiful daughter has retained constant ties to Sylvia and her four biological siblings over the years.
Sylvia and I were best friends even before we married and had kids. After our oldest sons were born we decided to share a house together so our (then) kids could grow up together like cousins. And we did. Our house in Flushing, Queens, became a mecca of activity and toddler fun. My two sons (now 26 and 24) remember that time, and fondly, and recall their Aunt Sylvia with affection. They shared high chairs, changing tables and Raffi videos with Sylvia's kids.
At one point, Sylvia had a raging breast infection. She was nursing her third daughter at the time (a 3-month-old) and could not breastfeed. At the time, I was still nursing my 13-month-old son and had plenty of milk to spare. So, every day, while Syl was sick, I took her baby, and my son and plugged them in together. There is a photo somewhere in the world of this, but (perhaps, thankfully) I do not have it.
So, why am I writing this entry now? Since Sandy Hook, I have been thinking about children, their lives and their needs. I have been thinking about the school system and how those who work within are trying so hard to respond to acts that bely understanding. About vibrant young people, so much like my own kids, who will never get the chance to throw down their own gauntlet to the world.
I am but one voice. The voice of a mother. Of a friend. Of a member of a community.
One voice. Does this help? I do not know.