A mother’s grief

By Donna J. Dettman

I’m a mother. I have a child, a son, away at the UI.

We send you off, having done our best to prepare you for this next step. You’re ready to reach out, to stretch, to discover. New ideas, new thoughts. We send you off with our prayers and our wishes. But now it’s different. Now we also send you off hiding fear in our hearts. You don’t see it when we hug you and wave goodbye. We smile bravely when you leave.

And then it happens. Another school has been invaded. Invaded by anger, by sickness, by hurt. Our fear buried by sheer force of will, will to believe in the goodness in human nature, erupts. Every mother’s nightmare has happened again. Someone’s baby is hurting, is afraid, is gone. We want to reach across the miles and gather you close. Our mother’s arms ache to hold you, to comfort you.

One mother’s grief is every mother’s grief. The loss of a life barely begun, so full of promise and exuberance. For the survivors, we mourn the loss of innocence, the forced growing up thrust upon you much too soon. To the NIU family, know that mothers everywhere are praying for you and yours.

Somehow, together, we will find the goodness in human nature and again bravely smile and send our young people out into the world. We must. Otherwise the anger, the sickness and the fear will win. Our young people are the future of our world, our very humanity depends on them. So I will hug my son tightly, tell him I love him, and then swallow my fear as he leaves.