Our friend Aliza died yesterday morning. She was thirteen years old, and our family had known her since infancy. During elementary school, her older brother was one of James's best friends; her father was one of my primary supports during the years I taught K-8 music; and thus, as schoolmates, she and Paul automatically became comfortable, snappy, teasing, cousin-like friends.
I have such a clear memory of Aliza during her first winter concert, when she stood up with the preschoolers and blithely had an accident on stage while continuing to sing. That happy-go-lucky goofiness was a lifelong trait and a centerpiece of her charm. She was a funny, affectionate, lighthearted child.
Last night, when Paul walked in the door, he immediately put his arms around me and we stood there, in the kitchen, embracing for a long time. On his Facebook wall, he had posted a quotation from a favorite book, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars: "the risen sun too bright in her losing eyes."
I share that line here because I think it is beautiful, not only in and of itself but because it is emblematic of the way in which our Harmony children have learned, the hard way, to weep together. The murders of Coty, Monica, and Amy forced them to shed their defenses, to cry with and for one another. Now they have lost another friend, and they continue to stand together, in solidarity and in pain.
It is terrible as a parent to watch other parents suffer the unthinkable loss of a child. It is terrible as a parent to watch one's child suffer the loss of a friend. But there is a richness also in knowing that, for our children, community is not defined by gender, religion, or politics but by bonds of love and respect. It continues to be an honor and a gift to be the parents of such human beings.