WN Entry: How does one make sense of this statement: “He was his parents’ only child.”

A couple of weeks ago Ruth and I were on the phone when her husband came into the room and told her there was a tornado that touched down about 20 miles away.
“Do you need to go?” I asked her.
“No, it’s okay,” she replied in a cool, Midwestern way.
872 miles away, I was freaking out, worried that the twister might get closer to their home in Indiana.
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I was taking a dinner break from putting my students’ yearbooks together a half hour ago ago. I flipped “Larry King Live” on and listened to an eloquent young man, Colby Gochanour, describe his best friend, Aaron Eilerts, who was killed in yesterday’s tornado that hit a Boy Scouts Camp in Iowa. Aaron’s friend eloquently paid homage to him, describing him with specific words that made him seem alive. Aaron sounded like the kind of kid every teacher would love to have in their class: philanthropic, interested in the world, ambitious.

Like many people, I cannot imagine the pain and heartache a parent must feel when they lose a child. It’s something I hope I never have to know. Therefore, when Larry King asked if Aaron had any brothers or sisters, Colby replied, “He’s on only child.” It was that statement alone that hit me (perhaps because I am an only child). Not only were his parents losing a child, but they were losing their only child.
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I thought that writing about one of the scouts who died yesterday would help me wrap my mind around this tragedy. It hasn’t. I cannot make sense out of innocent people who are in the hospital with spinal cord injuries and fractured skulls. I cannot make sense of four teenagers, with promising futures, dying at Scout Camp, where they were training to be Eagle Scouts. I cannot make sense of a tornado since I’ve lived on the East Coast my entire life. I cannot make sense of parents losing their only son.

However, even though writing hasn’t helped me make sense of the casualties that occurred because of this twister, it does make me realize that sometimes we have to write a lot about something, not just one tiny entry, in order to help ourselves understand something. Writing has always been cathartic for me. I hope that those who are suffering losses from this weather event can use writing as a means to help them eventually come to terms with, or perhaps make sense (out of), the tornado that killed and wounded so many young people yesterday.