Often, you just know what to say: I’m so sorry. Tell me more. That sucks. But then things happen– world changing, era-ending things—that require more thought, more care, more compassion. And after spending the last few days glued to CNN.com, trying hard to figure out how to feel, words continue to fail–and all I can manage is wow. I repeat it, over and over, every time I come across a new piece of information or image, and don’t realize that I’ve become a broken record until I hear Lily’s little parrot voice. Overwhelmed and confused, I do the only logical thing I can think of: I call my mom, who is 1,000 miles away.
Wow, I say. About everything. Just…wow.
Wow, she agrees.
And then we are quiet for a long time. But somehow, magically, I feel better. Because I didn’t call her for answers, really—I called because I needed her to validate my wow. And because I’m sure that one day Lily will call me and want the same guidance and assurance and calm voice and deep breaths that I have come to rely on, I take comfort in the knowledge that maybe she won’t need for me to know everything. Perhaps just honoring her too-big feelings will do more than any because-I’m-the-mom answers can.
A few hours later, Lily and I are out jogging when an enormous Black Hawk helicopter lands near the hangar closest to our house. It is incredibly loud and amazing and awkward looking, and she just sits in her stroller staring at it, stunned.
Wow! Lily, it’s a plane, I explain, pointing. Plane. P-p-p-lane. Can you say it? Plane, I encourage.
Wow, she says.