Seeing clearly in the face of tragedy

Judging by the friends overflowing into the lobby and hallways beyond the funeral home’s greatroom, many people in our Fort Collins community were deeply saddened when 14-year-old Urangua “Sisi” Mijiddorj was killed on Aug 20. Of course, no one in that building was suffering more than Sisi’s parents, who not only faced the unimaginable, they also questioned themselves, wondering what actions they might have taken that led to this tragedy.

For Mijee, Sisi’s father, a quiet but passionate man whose homeland culture would have him face his pain in stoic isolation, this questioning can become overwhelming. To him and Khishig, Sisi’s mother, and to any parent whose child has come to harm, please hear these undeniable truths:

A parent assumes a constellation of responsibility, to raise a baby to adulthood, a responsibility more important and complex than the burdens of popes and politicians. Over the years, days, and minutes of parenthood, we make a million decisions — what places they go, what foods they eat, and what people they meet — enough decisions for all the stars in the sky. But the tears from such a tragedy blur our vision of the nighttime sky. All points of light vanish from the panorama except for just a few brief decisions, such as allowing her to ride her bike that sunny morning, letting her attend that particular school, or perhaps even leaving Mongolia for this land of the fast-moving SUV, one of which took her life.

How unfair and dangerous is this delusion, this night blindness, this myopia of tear-filled eyes.

We delude ourselves about the control we have. It’s a chilling reality for everyone, particularly for those with children, that despite all the labels we read, doors we latch and traffic lights we obey, we are not in command. Our light-speed society perpetuates this lie of control by presenting a thousand choices that we seem so free to make. But the true control lies beyond.

Of course these are logical arguments, and logic breaks down quickly against rushing emotions that disregard the laws of an ordered universe. Well-meaning friends offer adamantly that no one is to blame, but under the torrent of grief, certainty erodes. We know that Sisi, intelligent and inquisitive, was the kind of child the IB program was designed for, and that she, determined and confident, would insist upon learning to ride a bike this summer and would yearn for the independence it promised. Yet these logical arguments offer little solace.

So where does that leave us? With a wish that parents grieving the loss of a child waste no tears on what-if questions to vainly explain this unexplainable universe. Save your energy for the arduous road ahead, a journey that you must complete for the sake of all those who love you.

Khishig and Mijee, if you seek forgiveness but hear no reply, the silence is not rebuke. There is nothing to forgive. If you love your child, and if you move through life making the million choices every parent must make, always wanting what’s best for your precious child, then you are and forever will be the best parents that Sisi, Mimi and Miki could ever have.

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