Thursday, October 24, 2013

Broken Hearts in Kansas

A 5-year-old was killed in a Kansas farm accident yesterday and I keep asking myself what right I have to grieve, to take this loss on as my own.

I did not know Brooklyn Debenham. I have never met her.

But only a couple of days ago I was thinking about a story involving my little cousin, Chantell, and I was wondering how it was that I could still begin stories with that description when my cousin is now a married woman with three children of her own. On my vast mental list of things to do now that I live in this part of Kansas (going on 10+ years now) is to get together with Chantell, reaquaint my children with her oldest daughter (whom we babysat for a semester when they were all near-babies) and get to know her babies, who barely qualify as babies any longer.

Thanks to Facebook I have images of all of them and I can thumbs up their accomplishments on the volleyball court and laugh that the little one apparently isn't a big fan of birds and smile at the photos of them all dressed up for somebody's wedding. I know that Brooklyn loves spending time with her daddy on the combine. This is a fact that makes me smile, even though I have never met Brooklyn. I claim her momma. I admire her daddy. I ask about her by name when I visit my aunt, my own momma's sister and little Brooklyn's great-grandmother.

I claim Brooklyn as I claim my own heartbeat. That's the only way I can explain the ache I feel today, the tears that keep springing to my eyes, the inability to concentrate on anything except the moments when I grab my children and hug them to me. I claim Brooklyn just as I claim her sisters, her mother and her brother, her grandparents. Cousins don't always get enough credit, but they are woven into the very fabric of our being just as deeply as our siblings and our parents.

A year ago so many of us cousins attended a funeral (Brooklyn's great-grandad) and lamented together that these would be the events that would bring us together more frequently in the future, and then made promises to each other that we would get together for happy times, as well. "We'll call you when we are ready to take that field trip to Abilene," I told Chantell.

We were thinking of the older generation, of course. Those who are more frail than they used to be and have full lives behind them. We weren't thinking of Brooklyn's Uncle Miah whose life was cut short only a few weeks ago. We certainly weren't thinking of little Brooklyn.

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely heartbreaking. I went to school with Chantell in Dodge City and when I heard about Brooklyn- I wept. I wept for the young life gone, the father who was helpless during a horrible accident, a mothers loss and sisters who are missing a piece of themselves.


Blog Archive