We All Cry Together
The biggest difference between husband and I getting Boy ready for school is that the former will always find time, when there absolutely is none, to perfect the military time step. Where I am hen pecking our poor son into doing this that and the other, husband will offer advice on how to perform the perfect shuffle. Tap fever is ripping through our household on account of Boy’s Broadway debut. It’s a small stage, but the YMCA’s auditorium at the intersection between Broadway and Nagle Ave on upper Manhattan is not to be sneezed at, especially if you are anywhere between the ages of 3 and 9.
Smiling parents line the hall, looking up at their offspring as budding gymnasts show off their cartwheels, diminutive karate stars smash wood blocks, children who have just learned to speak sing in Hebrew and wrigglers wiggle out a zumba routine. The tappers file on stage, Boy holding centre like his life depended on it. He and his blazer explode into life, performing the routine with military precision gazing up at the invisible balcony of audience. They tip tap offstage and he throws a fist into the air like he’s just scored a home run for the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth. I’m gleaming like the other soppy parents, balancing an engrossed Junior on one hip, camera in my free hand. My eyes sweep across the hall of happiness and my heart aches for those Connecticut parents, who, like us, probably had a slew of festive events just like these to attend.
When our children returned to school on Monday morning, there was a palpable quiet about the gaggle of parents. I noticed how several took a little longer to squeeze their children close. Boy looked back at me before he was swallowed in through the huge doors, asking me whether I had packed his lunch, his little head looking smaller than usual. Before I had reached the corner, tears were streaming down my face. In the privacy of our own home I sobbed into the arms of my husband, just as others were doing country, if not world, wide. My tears won’t bring them back, but there is a part of me that has to believe the lost souls picking up the fragments of their lives, must surely feel the wave of love sent to them from strangers as we weep for them. A cliché perhaps, but at times like these we are forced to acknowledge the magnificent resilience of the human spirit as well as its frailty. How it can be extinguished all too suddenly or ravaged with mental illnesses.
The internet is on fire about discussions of the future. Politicians are finally being held to account. Mental health professionals are using the opportunity to ignite much needed discourse about the taboo. I can’t help but wonder how mental health is dealt with in more remote tribes. Is this a sickness that we have crafted over time in our “civilised” society, with our relentless pursuit of goals that have little to do with spiritual and emotional health and more to do with investing in the physical buffers we consider so important – houses, possessions, jobs, appearances.
The curtain closes on the members of the local YMCA to rapturous applause. We salute life, in it’s unbridled beauty beaming out of our children. Sending a prayer to those still wringing their tears. Hoping they will find a way to heal and bear the unbearable.