We just had word from some UK friends that a close friend of ours lost their beautiful 1 year-old boy last week. He'd been having seizures since October, and he died just the other day.
It's the worst possible thing that could ever happen to a parent, and I can't quite get my head around it yet. It's not real, it can't be. Terrible things like that happen on the news to people you don't know, not your mates who you just spoke to on Skype. I look at my own children and a horrible little part of me feels relief that mine are still OK, we had a scare of our own when Kaitereo was a baby, and just the thought that we could have lost her makes me feel utterly terrified.
We spent the weekend away at Tareka's Marae, and Tareka and I had a "discussion" about the different way in which his extended family raise their kids. Generally, it seems that the kids are all sort left to get on with things, and the adults are around, but not really watching them. The older kids are expected to look out for the younger ones, and everyone always seems to assume that someone else is watching them. This sort of parenting frightens me, and since I had my own children I battle constantly between my need to keep them protected from the world, and my knowledge that they need to experience life in order to learn, grow and become independent.
It always amazes me how the kids DO stay safe in this situation. The baby seems to know not to toddle over to where the cars are, and just plays happily around her siblings and cousins, while the adults get on with whatever jobs need doing, only pausing to feed the baby or pick her up when she toddles over for some attention.
It reminds me of something I read about the Yequana tribe, where (according to Jean Liedloff) the babies and children are never told to "be careful" or warned about potential hazards, and just left to learn about how to survive using their own instincts, and the amazing thing is that it seems to work, and life in the tribe appears unbelivably idyllic.
When I was stressing at Tareka about how dangerous a place the world is, and how we need to make sure our children are either kept away from hazards, or taught how to take care of themselves, he looked at me with that serious face he gets and said "you can protect them all you like, but sometimes they just don't wake up in the morning"
He has a point, how could my poor dear friends have protected their baby? Simple. They couldn't. No one is to blame, horrific and terrible though it is, it just happened. I send them all my love and sympathy and support, and I really feel for them, but ultimately they will get through this together, with their older son and each other.
Peace, my friends, I am thinking of you always.