The Living Social app on Facebook recently invited me to identify the five things that terrify me the most. On my list were snakes, becoming homeless, having all of my limbs amputated, gaining weight, and being brain dead. What is on your list?
If I were a parent I could imagine one of the things that would be on my list is having my child taken away by social services. And this nightmare is happening to a friend of mine right now.
Put yourself in their shoes for just a moment, if you can bear it. Imagine every waking moment filled with a yawning emptiness created by the absence of your child. Would you feel sadness? Anger? As you stare into this abyss realize that you are also required to muster the energy to think aggressively and strategically about what to wear to court, how to stage your home for the case management visits, choreographing interactions with your sweetheart, deciding who to tell to garner support without losing too much face among family and friends - all in the interest of convincing social workers, lawyers, judges that you are a loving and capable parent - not a sad, depressed and overwhelmed parent. Or a furious and bitter parent. Could you do it? I don't know if I could do it.
My heart aches for this little family. I'm loathe to read updates that come by email for fear that the child will be permanently separated from its family. Even if the case is settled in their favor, their lives will never be the same.
I saw a snake in the front yard yesterday afternoon. A long garter snake. It startled me but didn't terrify me. I'm not a parent but merely having a friend who is living what I imagine is among a parent's worst nightmares is obsessively scaring me more than I could imagine. I hope I never have to live through my worst nightmare - being a bystander to someone else's greatest terror is bad enough.