Claire Davis, the 17 year old shot at Arapahoe High School in Colorado on Dec. 13 died Saturday surrounded by her family. She
was shot in the head by an 18 year old classmate looking to kill his debate coach. A beautiful child. Dead. My heart breaks.
As the mother of a child that age, I can’t even imagine such grief. My mind tries to imagine it, but backs away as if getting too close to a flame. My mind is protecting me from a grief I might not be able to bear.
My first thoughts were of her parents. I tried to envelop them with my prayers to provide some level of comfort, and yet I realize that it’s small comfort indeed. Her parents had the grace to issue the following statement:
Last week was truly a paradox in that we lost our daughter, yet we witnessed the wonderful love that exists in the world through the tremendous outpouring of support we received… .
I’m ashamed to say that even after I heard that Claire was adopted, when I thought of her parents, I first only thought of her adoptive parents. Then it hit me: there are two sets of grieving parents—assuming her birth parents know.
When an adopted child dies, two sets of parents grieve: the parents who raised her and the parents that birthed her.
A birth mom in a semi-open adoption once told me that every time she heard of a child dying she immediately checked the age to see if it could be her son. Her anxiety would sky rocket if the child was even close to the age of her son until enough time passed that she assumed someone would have let her know. Can you imagine living that fear every time you read the paper?!? Can you imagine having to wait and hope someone notified you of your child’s death?
An adoption social worker posted online after hearing that Claire was adopted that a first mother once told her that she hated summer because the news would report children drowning, and with each report she would search the story hoping for an age or birthdate, so she could know that it wasn’t her child.
So right now, I’m sending up a prayer of comfort for both sets of Claire’s parents. I pray that Claire’s birth parents have been told. I pray that maybe, just maybe, both sets of parents can offer each other comfort. I can’t imagine their grief, and selfishly I pray that I never have to do more than try to imagine it.
Image credit: ABC Channel 7 Denver News