In just five days I will celebrate the 29th birthday of my twins. It is a day for remembrance not only because I had two babies that day, but that one of them was a miracle. He is a strapping six foot one or two, weighing in now at around 175 and normal in every way. According to the doctors, he shouldn’t be. When you spend nine and a half weeks sitting in a NICU every day, seven days a week, you see too many deaths of little angels. One of the thoughts that tortured me, once my son began to improve was Why mine, why not the rest?
Not only did I think that over and over, but I have to think of the parents who were led out of the NICU empty-handed, heading home to a nursery that wouldn’t be filled, to clothes and toys not to be touched had to be thinking, “Why us?” “Why was our son/daughter taken?”
I have learned, regardless of how old a child is when you lose it, days to years, it doesn’t lessen the pain. The pain began for the Greens last Saturday in Tucson, Arizona when their daughter was senselessly gunned down. You can’t avoid the nagging questions in your mind, but they know that their daughter was priceless and she mattered, not just to them. She was the only girl on her little league team and dreamed of being the first woman to break into the major league. She was interested in democracy, an interest deep enough to put her in harm’s way last Saturday.
Christina’s father was quoted on Sunday by the Washington Post’s Andrea Stone saying, "’She came in on a tragedy and now she's gone out on a tragedy, but the nine years in between were very special,’ her father, John Green, told CNN. ‘We're all going to miss Christina. We were four people, and now we're three.’"
At the memorial service last night, President Barack Obama said of Christina’s interest in democracy, "She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.” Not only do we take it for granted, we aren’t shocked by the vitriol as we should be astonished. If it weren’t for the media, yes even me, we could ignore the bad and it would turn tail and run, but the same bad thrives on attention and we give it to them.
Obama called for no blame assignment or name-calling so I won’t put any of what I wrote yesterday here. It isn’t what this article is about. Christina had just been elected to student council, she was just beginning to learn governing and for her it was about the best this country can be and not where it currently finds itself. We have a long way to go, but a little child could lead us, if we can remember how to be more civil, blame less, and help more.
Half a world away, another country, Australia is inundated by rains and flooding that has been horrific both in its intensity and its catching country and citizens unawares with its forces. Waters have risen faster than people could get out of their homes or off the roads. Another brave child begged a rescuer, “save my brother first.”
We don’t know as much about young Jordan Rice other than his tender age of 13 and staring his own fear in the face. His father, John Tyson was quoted as saying of his son’s plea to the rescuer, "I can only imagine what was going on inside to give up his life to save his brother, even though he was petrified of water. He is our little hero." According to the passerby that rescued youthful Jordan’s younger brother Blake, Jordan also pleaded that he save his mom before him as well, but the time he returned both had been washed away.
Both Christina and Jordan have made me look at the kind of adult I have become. Am I willing to demand of my government what it should be doing and not the raging partisan bickering that has reigned for years? Am I prepared to be as civil as I should always be, always? Christina had the role model of representative, Gabrielle Giffords, that regularly listened to her constituents. I like that. I admire that Christina was so invested in her own student government and I love the dreams and aspirations we have learned that she had. I cry that they won’t be realized.
Jordan selflessly, in the face of his greatest fear, thought of his younger brother and his mother first. I had never before considered making that kind of choice. Oh, for my children and my grandchildren, I would put myself in harm’s way. But as a child? At 13?
Today at Christina’s funeral, Catholic Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said, “She wanted to make a difference with her life, to make her mark. She has done so in such a powerful way that even she could not have imagined."
Yes, they are paying a horrible toll, but the children are leading us. I would like to repeat what President Obama said of Christina last night and mean it for myself as well, "I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it."
Nanette Traband © 2011
Quotes for this piece were gleaned from:
Hundreds Come Out for Funeral of Youngest Arizona Shooting Victim by Gillian Flaccus of the Associated Press for AOL News.
‘Save My Brother First’: Boy, 13, Sacrifices Life in Australian Flood by Maura Gray AOL News contributor.
Report on Funeral of Christina Taylor Green by Katie Couric on CBS Evening News.
Girl Killed in Giffords Shooting Born on 9/11/01 by Andrea Stone, Senior Washington Correspondent, AOL News.