A CNN broadcast stopped me in my tracks one evening last week as I walked through the den on my way to put away laundry. Appalling images from Syria were on the screen, images from a country in turmoil where, in a scenario that has plagued mankind since the beginning of time, individuals with power were attempting to keep it by visiting violence on the disenfranchised.
I do not know the exact location or names or dates or how the tragedy unfolded exactly. The need to know details evaporated as I became riveted to the screen, watching something horrible unfold before my eyes. There was a two year old boy dying, mortally wounded from a recent attack. His chest heaved violently, struggling for breath. There was a doctor there, grief stricken and angry that he could do nothing for the child. He waved his arms and ranted in Arabic, decrying a government that would perpetrate such violence upon its people; his rage evident and justifiable. The child's grandmother wailed and wrung her hands and shook her head; her agony heart wrenching. The scene was almost too unbearable to watch yet how could I look away? Why would I not bear witness to this suffering, to keep myself in a good mood and safely distanced from pain?
So, I dazedly sat myself and my stack of laundry down on a chair and continued to watch. What touched me most, what took my heart completely and continues to haunt me was what the boy's father did in the face of this unspeakably horrific situation. He cradled his son gently, oblivious to the ranting doctor, oblivious to the wailing grandmother, oblivious to the television reporters and cameras. He was with his son as he was dying, he was present and focused on staying with him until the end. His large weathered hands gingerly patted him with an exquisite almost other worldly tenderness as he whispered what I can only imagine were words of comfort to the child.
That night in Syria a two year old boy succumbed to his injuries but he did not die alone because his father had the courage to accept the unacceptable. That night in Syria a heartbroken father stayed present without wavering in his suddenly tragic life and put love first.