Our Olive Garden family is in mourning tonight following the Valentine’s Day death of the infant son of one of our managers. My heart has been breaking for her since the emergency call came, right in the middle of the dinner service, and I still cannot wrap my mind around the reality of it. Two loving parents, so happy with the baby boy who joined his big sister last fall…forever devastated.
My first instinct was to tell our guests that they needed to go home so that we could close the restaurant. Of course, that wasn’t what needed to happen, nor would it have helped in the least. So we kept on smiling and helping our guests celebrate with their families and loved ones, all the while knowing that the life of one of our very own had been forever shattered.
What do you say to a parent whose child has died? No words will take away the pain, brighten the day. I should be better at this by now, as two of my dearest friends have each had one of their children die. But all I know how to do is help with the busy work…collect stuff for the yard sale, help with the Go Fund Me page…work on the reality of raising money for a funeral for a tiny little boy. My heart screams with outrage as I type those words. And I keep thinking of things the parents will need to do. What parent ever considers writing their baby’s obituary? How can that even be necessary? And how do parents tell a three-year old big sister who watched her mommy’s tummy grow and was just learning how to snuggle and cuddle with him that her sweet baby brother won’t be coming home again?
My wise priest (also a mother) reminded me that God did not “let” or “cause” this to happen, but He was there wrapping His love around the baby, and will be holding the family up in their grief. So I will continue to pray for her family, pray for eventual understanding and some semblance of peace for them, pray that when I do get to see her I will be able to just hug her and be there without trying to be profound.
Words fail me. Hug your children close. Go peek at them while they sleep, inhale their sweet fragrance. Know how fleeting life is, and cherish every moment.