Life is full of emotion. Life is emotional. Life can be an emotional mess.
But life for adults during all of these times is different than for our kids.
Kids come at life with an unbridled desire for happiness, simplicity, and the expectation of joy. A magic wand exists for them that many adults have lost. When things go wrong, someone, somewhere, will have a magic wand that makes it all better.
This has been a tough week for our family. After 2 and a half years of dealing with mommy having cancer, our world was rocked when daddy had a heart attack. The details of both of those stories don’t really matter- what does is that once again, our son had to count on a magic wand.
But the magic wand does not come without leaving its marks. At 14 years old, he should not have to deal with the idea of losing his mom. He should not have to deal with the gravity of almost losing his dad this week. He should not have to deal, but he does.
The reality is that kids who have parents who are faced with critical illnesses live a life that is different from kids who don’t live in this world.
I noticed it last year at every single retreat that we had. The kids were all amazing. They face something that makes them stronger, more empathetic, more willing to give love, more protective, more accepting of life as it is. They also get each other immediately. Every retreat week, it is like a group of cousins that see each other a couple of times a year and when they get back together, they immediately fall into comfortable rythyms. And it is quick- usually the first night.
And at the root of all of that is that “they get it”. They have learned that life is not about getting everything you want– it is about the fact that life is full of emotion; life is emotional; and life can be an emotional mess. But it is what you have and you are just happy to have it. Now, I don’t know if they are truly aware of any of this cognitively at the time. And they have all of the same issues of other kids- ADD, good grades, bad grades, shyness, extrovertedness, attachment issues, and any other kid “thing”.
But take a moment and meet one of these kids and you will be amazed at who they are becoming. They need everyone’s love and support because their lives may turn out very different than anyone imagines. And they have the ability to see that even when life does not seem fair and they have to sacrifice, it may not be fair, but it is still worth living. And so they live it and try to be happy, despite the trials in their life. And they live it and try to find the simplicity because their lives are already complicated. And they live it with an expectation that joy will come, because that is where hope lies.