I was doing a random blog search the other day when I came across this mother’s story. It is one of heartache and loss as she tells about her son, also named Henry, who died at 18 of a drug overdose and injuries he suffered from a related attack. I was compelled to read her words and to watch the video that a local news crew had made about her son. As I watched, I mentally patted myself on the back for the clean lifestyle the CPA and I live, how we don’t drink, we don’t smoke, we go to church, etc. etc. etc. I found myself thinking, “surely that will never happen to us or to our Henry because we don’t do things like that.” At least that’s what I want to believe.
I wasn’t trying to minimize the efforts of the other parents by doing this. I was trying to assure myself that what happened to them, would never happen to us. I think we all do that in our own way when hearing about a tragedy. When we learn that someone died in an accident, we want to know exactly what happened. When someone passes away from cancer or a heart attack, we want to know specifics. Some would say it’s a morbid curiousity but I think it’s because it makes us feel better to say, “oh, it happened because of such and such. Well then I’m okay because I’m in good health or I drive carefully, etc.” Deep down, it’s because we want a guarantee. A guarantee that it will never happen to us and that we will be safe.
Something the mother in the video said struck a chord with me though. She said, “It is embarrassing as a parent to admit that your child has such a (drug) problem because it is seen to be a result of bad parenting.” I stopped the video right then. I knew what she was going to say and I think I knew the truth all along: that she most likely isn’t a bad parent. She is probably just like the rest of us who try to teach our children basic principles of right from wrong. We do our best to steer our children away from things that will hurt them and to teach them values that will guide them for the rest of their lives.
And yet, no matter how hard we try, our children will ultimately have to make their own decisions. They are, after all, their own persons with their own free agency. Yes, we do all we can to make sure those choices are based on the foundation that we have given them, but it is still their choice. And sometimes one choice will seem so small, so inconsequential, that they won’t realize how detrimental it may end up being.
Which is why we continue to try and do our best each day. We take time to enjoy what we have whether it be our children, our spouse, our job, or our good health. And we feel compassion for those who are struggling, who may be suffering from the decisions of others or through no fault of their own. We support them and we help them because we never know when that “them” may in fact be “us.”
Because as we all know, there are no guarantees.