I generally don’t have much time to follow Hollywood stories. My thoughts tend to swirl around grocery lists and errands to run. But a few days ago one story caught my eye. A movie star’s child has died. An innocent child, not a drug addicted spoiled child. A child the same age as my own.
And although I don’t know him personally, this movie star is one I sense is a pretty nice guy. He’s made movies I respect and has given countless interviews that exude a caring spirit. All I can think is that it must be a very dark day for this man and his family, because the title of movie star is meaningless. The title of dad means everything.
The long list of projects he’s worked on cannot save him from this horror. The endless fortune he might have accrued cannot buy him back his son. Even the jets he takes such joy in flying cannot whisk him back to the normal life he used to know.
As I snuggle on the couch tonight with my very healthy child, I think of this man I have never met. I think about the sixteen years of small moments he has shared with his son, and how each moment will be a pebble in his quarry of grief.
Because raising kids is very much about the small moments. Sure, being a parent involves watching first toddler steps, first days of kindergarten and little league home runs. There are anxious days of trying out for student council and the high school soccer team. But the bulk of parenting is about none of that. It’s about very small, very ordinary moments that we rarely remember to appreciate.
It’s a small voice saying, “Thanks for the goldfish cwackers, mama. I wuv dem!” when the chaos of the grocery store is about to make you scream. It’s the peck on the cheek kisses every single night before he goes to bed, with promises of ‘I’ll see ya in the morning, mom!’ And it’s sharing a warm blanket on a cold winter night watching just about anything on TV together.
The reality of the empty nest is hard enough when it only involves dropping him off at a college dorm. Graveside services should not be within the realm of possibilities.
A good friend of mine lost her six-year-old to a nasty variety of cancer just a year ago. She is still figuring out how to come up for air. And maybe it’s because I know her and I know how these terrible things happen to really good people that my heart hurts tonight for this movie star man I do not know.
Because after a really average day and a really ordinary weekend, I get to tuck all four of my children into bed and kiss their warm cheeks goodnight. And tonight I am much richer than the movie star man.