Saturday, July 23, 2011

On Norway's Lost Children

As I write this, my children are behind me, munching apples and waiting until it's time to leave for their cousins' birthday party. This morning, we shopped for another birthday party tomorrow, which will be followed by a week-long cottage holiday with friends.

We are blessed and lucky to have this life: awesome family, generous friends. Each other.

A world away in Norway, dozens of families are not so lucky and hundred of lives have been lost, torn apart by a lunatic.

My mind is trying not to imagine the horror that has stricken the tiny, peaceful country, but failing miserably. Memories of 9/11 assailed me when I heard the first news reports about the bombing in Oslo. I vividly recall a sense of unreality, a slow unravelling of the smug sense of safety that can only be felt by people like me, who've never known war or true terror.

But then came the truly devastating news: 80 children dead. Trapped, some so terrified they hurled themselves into the sea to escape the fatal bullets from a madman's gun.

They'd been camping - a large group of young people on an island, mid-summer. It's the sort of idyllic scene and experience I want for my own sons, one day. I loved summer camp as a young girl and look forward to letting the Reds know that same freedom and adventure.

I cannot allow myself to wonder what compelled this handsome, ordinary-seeming man to wreak such havoc in his own country, ending the lives of so many, especially ones so young. I do wonder what his mother is feeling, knowing that her son has tossed an entire nation into mourning.

 But my tears are not for her.

Instead, I weep for the parents of Norway's lost children - especially for their mothers. I am helpless and heartbroken for them all, imagining their agony but feeling - guiltily - so grateful that my sons are not among the dead.

And while I can imagine - in vivid, awful, gut-wrenching detail - their pain, I do not KNOW it. Even as I ache for them, I am aware of my own blessings and thank God for his grace.

It's a terrible kind of joy.

Isn't it?


  1. I'm not sure if "you're welcome" is appropriate, really, know.

    This was a hard piece to write, but I could not let another minute pass without trying to express all that I'm feeling.

    But by the grace of God, blog I.

  2. Liz, you have such a way to put into words what others are thinking. You are right...we ARE lucky not to know that type of horror, but in a world that has seemingly lost its collective mind, it remains in the back of most of our heads that it COULD happen anywhere, anytime. Hug your boys extra tight. I know this sort of thing makes me grateful for all that I have and forget the things I don't.

  3. Gave tons of kisses to the Reds as they climbed into the car - I am not going with them today and while normally, I'd be giddy w/ the freedom of that, today, it made my heart ache.

    I don't want to be - nor do I think I am - the only parent to feel these opposing emotions: sympathy mixed with relief, but am ok being one to say them aloud. Find me a parent who says they've not felt the same and I'll show one of two things:

    a) someone's who's not being entirely honest or,
    b) a better person than I am.

    Either way, it needed to be said, if only to get it out of my head. My heart.

    Thanks for the love. Kiss your kids for me.

  4. So much loss of such young lives. Heartbreaking.

  5. It is indeed. The worst sort of heartbreak, I think.