In the Wake of the Disney Tragedy

Children across Baltimore County are finishing up their school year today. Parents are already thinking about the next school year, and fretting over vacation and hotel arrangements for the summer. All of this hustle and bustle is happening while a family in Nebraska is making funeral arrangements for their two year old son. If you haven't already heard, a two year old Nebraska toddler lost his life a few days ago. He and his family were enjoying a Disney trip in Florida when the little boy was dragged into a lagoon by a gator. His father desperately tried to save the child but was unsuccessful in his attempts. It's such a sad situation because the family wanted to make wonderful memories at the happiest place on earth. Little did they know that what should have been a relaxing family vacation, would turn into their worst nightmare. People around the world are divided over this incident. Some want to rally around the family offering condolences, while the other half wants to place blame on the family for not watching their child; for allowing him to be near the water, let alone wading through it.

When I first heard about this tragedy on the news, my first thought was of the parents. I wanted to find them, to hug them, to say how sorry I am for the loss of their precious baby. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of pain, grief, and blame they must be feeling. Could this accident have been prevented? Maybe, but could it have happened to another child on another day? Absolutely. If you watch children play near water, much like a moth to a flame, no matter their ages or warnings given to them, they are drawn to it. They want to play in it. They want to throw stones into it. They want to fish things out of even the murkiest waterways. Even at the beach I will see moms and dads working diligently to quickly set up their blankets and beach umbrellas while their little ones take off straight into the ocean without their sunscreen or flotation devices in place. Mom or dad will rush over to their child admonishing them for their behavior yet we see the scenario play out again and again throughout the day with other families.

When families go on vacation, we let our hair down, don't we? Bedtime and bath time schedules are more lax. A "nutritious" lunch might consist of a pretzel and lemonade from a food cart. Maybe we're not as eagle-eyed about our children's whereabouts or we think that if they're just a few steps away within our eye sight then they must be safe. It doesn't make us bad parents, does it? I would love to meet the parents who can keep an eye on their children 24/7. I truly believe that every soul on this earth has a purpose. I believe that we all have things we must learn from one another. Besides bringing joy to his family and community, Lane Graves brought additional awareness to all of us about the dangers of waterways, especially in Florida.

I refuse to pass judgement on the Graves family. Instead I will offer up additional prayers for healing and comfort. The Graves family is experiencing a kind of unbearable hurt that will never disappear but I hope that they will be gentle with themselves because the fact is they have another young child to raise who also experienced a great tagedy and loss. I can only hope that none of us ever has to experience this kind of awful sitution in our lives. So readers, hug your babies a little tighter today because if nothing else, Lane reminds us that life is unpredictable, and that no matter our age, tomorrow is never promised. ~HZM

Photograph distributed by the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Florida

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