People around the world have been captivated by the tragic events that happened almost consecutively in the City of Orlando. First, 22 year old musical artist Christina Grimmie was murdered following one of her concerts. Then, almost 24 hours later, 49 people were killed in a terrorist attack on a dance club. To date, it is the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States. Three days following this event, a two year old boy is attacked by an alligator at a Disney Resort and was found dead. Each of these tragedies spread out over a period of time is overwhelming, but in the space of five days, in a single city, seems nightmarish. Many people have approached each of these tragedies from different angles. Some for personal gain and others out of true concern. Today as I pondered and prayed for each of these situations, I was overwhelmed at the brokenness that some fathers may be experiencing this week during a time that is set aside to celebrate them. What weight and brokenness must many fathers be experiencing due to these tragedies and countless others of which I am not even aware?
No doubt Christina’s father had experienced countless delights throughout her life, but I am sure he was flooded with joy as she began to achieve her dreams. Undoubtedly the family was excited about her future as a singer and the fulfillment she was experiencing in her life by using her gifts. Suddenly those dreams, plans, hopes and future were all brought to a devastating halt. Instead of planning for a new record deal or preparing for fame and fortune, her family is left to figure out how to grieve a life that ended all too soon. I am not sure if anyone is prepared for the death of their child, but the vast divide between the jubilation of achieving a life’s dream and the devastation of an untimely and tragic death seems so overwhelming that I am not sure anyone could be prepared for it, especially a father.
I wonder about the emotions facing the fathers of the men and women killed in the Pulse club. 49 people dead from a calculated attack of hate. I wonder how many of those fathers were estranged from their children because they could not come to grips with a lifestyle they may not have agreed with or understood. I wonder, if they knew how life would end, if some of those opinions would have been as important as they thought they were. How many are wishing they had called, invited them over, went to visit or just offered love? I wonder how many fathers regret their tough stance or harshness? There may be some who will only grow more callous, but most likely there is much regret. On the other hand, there are those who loved their children unconditionally and are experiencing the pain of a loss for which they could not have prepared. Brokenness is no respecter of worldview.
I wonder how the father of the man who murdered these people must feel? He is having to answer endless questions and suffer unwanted attention to address a situation that could make no parent proud. I wonder how he must feel about being found guilty-by-association by many onlookers; friends and co-workers second guessing who he may really be. I am certain he has asked himself what he could have done to have prevented such devastation. Parents want good for their children, not evil.
And then there are the parents of the small child from Nebraska attacked by the alligator. I can only imagine the overwhelming grief of the loss of a small child and the inevitable second-guessing about how it could have been prevented. Their week was intended to create lifelong family memories not lifelong grief. This is a father who literally only had months with his child. For me, these situations are often the most difficult to address and comfort.
So today, I am reminded that even in my moments of brokenness as a father, there are many others who are experiencing loss that cannot be replaced or healed without significant scars. I understand there are many other people affected and lots of other issues to discuss. As a father, this one is weighty to me at the moment. This weekend as Father’s Day approaches, I pray for fathers everywhere. I pray for healing and hope. Restoration and peace. Broken fathers are on my mind.