Those of us who spent a long time in the news business would always cringe whenever we heard a reporter say, “A parent’s worst nightmare.” It has become one of those overused phrases like “an accident waiting to happen” or “lucky to be alive.”
Yet, in the aftermath of what has occurred this week, I’ve been thinking about the parents who are now getting those dreaded calls and being told the awful news that their child is among those murdered by a madman on the Virginia Tech campus.
All of us as parents have at one time or another imagined or had “nightmares” about getting such a call and, cliché or not, nothing you can imagine “could” be worse.
My second attempt at marriage during the 70’s was a scaled-down version of “The Brady Bunch.” I had two daughters, Suzan and Patty, and she had two daughters about the same age as mine, Lezlie and Sonja. When we split-up after seven years it meant the step-sisters were forced to split-up too.
That was really tough on Suzan and Sonja who had grown especially close. It was easy to love Sonja. She was an adorable child with long blonde hair. Although rather quiet and shy, she had a beautiful caring soul and a contagious laugh.
Sadly, I didn’t see much of Sonja in the years following the divorce but she had grown into a stunning young woman with the same marvelous personality.
She and her big step-sister, Suzan, remained close, though, all the way to the end.
“Sonja has cancer and it’s bad,” Suzan said on the phone fighting back tears. “I’m flying home to be with her.”
And, indeed, she was at her bedside when Sonja slipped away leaving her family and everyone who loved her in a daze.
We should not outlive our children.
I pray that the parents of those Virginia Tech students who must now live with that reality will someday be able to have sweet dreams again.