Beyond crying

Image: Mike Labrum

Today, I was scanning my Facebook feed (which, I’m learning, is becoming more and more of a place I care not go) and saw a video.

It held a scene of a hospital in Aleppo. There was a young boy of about three years old — the age of my daughter — sitting on a bed. He had a full head of curly hair and was wearing a sweater — the preppy kind a cute little boy wears. His face was powdered white with streaks of red from a mix of pulverized rubble and blood. It was a crowded room full of hysterical adults searching for their children and vice-versa.

And then there was the look on that little boy’s face.
This look isn’t leaving me — ever. I know this…

He was in such a state of absolute shock that he was beyond tears.

I’ve never seen this before. His bottom lip curled under itself like it wanted to cry, but his eyes remained dry as he stared blankly around the room. Minutes, maybe hours before this video was shot, those eyes witnessed literal — literal — hell on earth.

Apparently a bomb went off and a building collapsed in his sleep. All of his siblings were killed.

And there he was. Sitting up like a good little boy. Chubby cheeks and perfect posture and a dapper sweater and beautiful big round eyes that had seen the depths of the depths at such a young age.


I don’t know what to say right now. I’ve been in a daze since seeing this. I’m typically not effected by the news, but seeing that perfect little boy in such a horrid place at the other side of the world while I sat safe and warm in my small town American home got me where it counts.

Side note: As I type this, in the coffee shop, next to me is a beautiful teenage girl sipping on a latte with tears streaming down her cheeks as she complains to her mother about not having an ‘A’ in math (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up).

Being a parent makes me see my daughter in every kid. Seeing her in that little boy’s eyes crushed me.

I have no way of wrapping this one up nice and neat. Take this along with what happened in Berlin earlier and I have no snappy words to sum this all up.

There’s a lot of horrible things happening in the world. I get it, this is nothing new, but that doesn’t make it any less repulsive.

I have so many mixed thoughts, emotions, and feelings running through my mind right now. I feel guilty for living in such a safe place, but also grateful. I want to get mad. I want to shut off, but I want to become more involved. I want to turn the channel, but I don’t want to be ignorant.

I want to get mad at the adults — this child suffers from the foolish actions of his parents and grandparents and great grandparents.

Is this retribution? 
Is this justice? 
Will that bomb that scattered his life finally end the violence?

Is this working? 
Has this ever worked?

Hell doesn’t exist after death. 
Hell is happening right now.

Hell isn’t some fairy tale of eternity in a volcano after not saying the right prayers or hymns. All that is pointing to a place — a very real place — in our world right now. It has to do with a bomb going off in the quiet of night and a child’s nursery turning into a living nightmare with bodies strewn about and no safety in sight.

Heaven and hell lives and dies with us, right here, in this life.

Hold your children and loved ones close. 
Love is all we have.