I walked into a restaurant yesterday, and while I was waiting to talk to the host, a man was trying to explain to his daughter (maybe four or five years old) the tragedy of Sandy.
“You know, the rain came down and there was so much water that people lost their houses.”
The daughter stares up, confused.
“Lost them?” She says, her tiny voice befuddled by the thought. You lose toys. Not houses. “They forgot where they put them?”
The father smiles, then frowns almost simultaneously (if possible.)
“No, what I mean is,” he thinks about how to explain this, “the rain washed away everything. Houses and toys are all gone. The water took it.”
His eyes wet. I knew he was talking about their home, her toys.
The little girl looked around to see if anyone else could make any sense of this. Every face she met was just like mine, smiling, but sad.
At that point I suppose she knew it was true, and just threw herself into her father’s lap, wiping her teary eyes with his shirt.
“But we’re okay. We’re okay, and that’s all that matters,” he chanted, wrapping her up in all of him.
She’ll never forget the day she learned about tragedy.
He’ll never forget the day he had to explain it.