Monday, November 15, 2004

Unthinkable Loss

Smartmom just got off the phone with Big Smile, a friend (and avid reader of this blog), who recently suffered a terrible tragedy: her nephew died in a car accident on Halloween.

It's painful just to type the words.

And it was painful to hear Big Smile's voice. She's usually a very upbeat, funny, full-of-life person. Smartmom LOVES to bump into her on Seventh Avenue or in front of PS 321 to gossip and gab. Their talk goes deep too. And their conversations always have so much energy and forward propulsion.

Last spring, they both took a beginner women's running clinic sponsored by Jack Rabbit on Seventh Avenue. Smartmom was elated to see Big Smile at the first Saturday morning practice at 8 a.m. at Grand Army Plaza. Knowing that Big Smile was doing it too definitely gave Smartmom that extra push she needed to get out of bed on those cold March mornings. The two finished a 10K race on June 12th in Central Park, a triumph for them both.

To hear Big Smile's voice today was, of course, heartbreaking and sad. She'd spent much of the last few weeks with her brother and sister-in-law, other relatives and friends as they began to deal with the enormity of their loss. The suburban community, where her nephew was a high school senior, came out in droves to grieve for and honor this young man.

Smartmom met Big Smile back in 1998 when OSFO and Big Smile's son were just one-year-olds. Big Smile showed up for the first day of a baby group that Smartmom was hosting on Thursday mornings in her apartment on Third Street. Big Smile had recently moved to Park Slope from Brooklyn Heights and didn't know many people in the neighborhood.

Smartmom remembers instantly liking Big Smile as she was so full of warmth and friendliness. It was also obvious from the start that she was a smart and interesting person. Other great people showed up that day too including Upstate Pal, Former Upstairs Neighbor, a poet friend who has since moved to New Jersey, and a neighbor down the street who later started her own home nursery school. As the weeks passed, moms invited more moms and kids and the group got bigger and bigger -- some Thursdays there were over 20 moms and kids swarming Smartmom's semi-spacious living room.

The group was a great way for the moms to connect, eat bagels, watch the kids fight over OSFO's toys, and talk, talk and talk. Sometimes they talked so much, they'd forget about the babies (but not for long). By the time Spring rolled around, the group decided to meet at the Third Street Playground or in Longs Meadow because the children were nearing those terrible (or is it torential?) twos and needed to get their considerable ya yas out.

Many lasting friendships began at this baby group. Quite a few of the kids went to the home nursery school down the street. People kept in touch socially. Others met up again at pre-school or PS 321. Of course, the kids are big 6 and 7-year-olds now -- they're in first and second grade. It's really amazing how time flies, yup it really does.

Unthinkable loss.

To lose a child is said to be the most difficult thing in the world. Smartmom knows from her experience with the parents of firefighters who died on 9/11, who are still struggling with their grief very intensely three years later. The death of a child is not something you ever get over. Which isn't to say that these parents don't move forward in their lives. They do. They even find joy again. They really, really do. It's just very difficult.

Big Smile called to see if Smartmom knows of a bereavement group for herself. It will probably be helpful to connect with other's who are going through something similar. Smartmom said she'd make some calls, get some names and numbers. In the meantime, Smartmom sends best wishes and lots and lots of love to Big Smile and her family. She knows that Big Smile's brother is blessed to have such a caring, wonderful sister who will work to heal herself and be there for him when he needs her.


At 7:24 AM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

i was saddened to read about Big Smile's terrible loss - What a terrible tragedy for her and her family and the entire communtiy at large. I send my heartfelt condolences to her and her family.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger mrs. cleavage said...

How heart-breaking. Big Smile is lucky to have a friend like you Smartmom. If I hear of anything that might help, I will pass it on.


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