THE VigilanceVoicev    


Dec. 29—Saturday—Ground Zero Plus 109
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

            My wife and I babysat the grandchildren last night while their parents took a quiet evening to be with one another.
            The demands of a three- and five-year old are endless.   Children are balls of energy, wanting to play this game or that, wanting this book read, or this dress-up dress put on, or the new roller skates Santa brought to be placed on their feet so they can show they are “grown up” as they wobble and teeter over the carpet, sliding cautiously one foot ahead of the other.
            Joe, our son-in-law came home early.   After his “date” with our daughter, she was meeting her sister for a luxurious massage—a Christmas gift the two sisters annually enjoy.
            When “daddy” came through the door, the children beamed and ran to him.  
            “Now can I play with Daddy, G-Pa?” my grandson asked.
            In an instant, the children were wrapped in daddy’s arms, hugging him, and burying themselves in an “Alphabet Game,” the three absorbed in each other’s love and caring and warmth.
            I stood and watched the communion of father and children, and wondered about the emptiness in a child when his or her father or mother did not come through the door.   September 11 took away the lives of many parents, creating a vacuum in the family circle, erasing the physical presence of an integral part of the family—and, ripping a hole in the soul of a child.
            Emptiness is terror.
            As a child, my father abandoned my sister and me.   While he was still alive, he never came on Holidays or birthdays, or sent presents or cards.   He existed in physical form, but the emptiness of his absence from my life left me with gash in my guts, a hollowness in my being.   I would wait on the porch for him, or go down and watch him drive his bus through our town without ever noticing me, or waving, or acknowledging my presence.
            I know a little about the “hole in a child’s soul” when a parent “disappears.”
            Perhaps in my case, the Terror was worse knowing he was alive and totally neglecting me—treating me as though I were dead.   But to the child’s mind, the neglect of a father or a mother is secondary to their absence.   Even at his worst, his arms would have salved the wounds of his neglect.  But they never did, for he never came to visit or harvest the love that grew within my childish heart for him.
            My grandchildren’s passion for their father’s love and warmth brought back the memories of the empty waiting for my own, for the Terror of knowing he would never come kept alive by the hope that he would.  
            The “victims” of Nine Eleven spread much farther than the three-thousand who died that day.   Each child who waits for his mother or father to come through the door dies a little more within when that doesn’t happen.    The emptiness, the Black Hole of the Soul, widens just a shred more when the lights go out, and the child lies in his or her bed, staring at the ceiling, listening for the footsteps that might signal the miracle of the parent’s return.   And when they shut their eyes and sleep, it is as though they had no blankets on chilly nights, for there is a coldness within the void of a lost parent cannot warm.
            Those who chose to become parents in a family often elect divorce when the “love” between spouses wanes.    What the parents don’t realize is that divorce is Terrorism to a child.  It is not unlike the attack on the World Trade Center or Pentagon, or the deaths of those aboard flight 93.   Divorce smashes the security of a child’s world.  It crumbles the Twin Towers of their emotional security.   It kills a part of them when the separation of their mother and father forces them to be divided.
            Divorce Terrorized me as a child.   It ripped my father from my life.   It buried him as a living memory which haunted me throughout my life in ways that only a child’s mind can comprehend.
            Parents struggling to “love each other” often put their selfishness ahead of their children.   My father certainly put his before his children.   But had he subscribed to being a Parent of Vigilance, one who believed that his mission in life was to love and respect his children, and safeguard them from Terrors of all kinds and shapes—whether it be the bin Laden’s of the world, or the emptiness of a house without him—might not have let his selfishness rule.    Had he thought more about the love of his children, and their security and safety inside as well as out, perhaps he might have changed his behavior, might have sought to overcome the defects of his character that drove my mother to seek a divorce.
            Children, the beauty of life’s purpose on earth, should be the first priority of all who have them.    But, so often, the responsibility of being a parent is overlooked and understated in marriage.  If the children were the pivot point of a marriage, then it would be their welfare that would drive two adults to find ways to harmonize their relationship rather than cleave it.
            But such an act takes forethought.  
            For those thinking of marriage, I propose you consider becoming a Parent of Vigilance first.   If your goal in marriage is to create a family, then what bonds will you vow to protect the children if the ones you make between yourselves as bride and groom crumble over time?   What stanchion will support the weight of irreconcilable differences between adults if you do not have a “higher benchmark” upon which to make critical “life and death” decisions?
            Divorce kills part of a child.   All children of divorced parents have scars on their souls, some larger than others.  They never heal.  
            Those about to embark on the journey of marriage need to dig deep within themselves and consider what tools they will use to stitch the wounds of matrimony when their relationship runs afoul—as all relationships over time do.    What overriding principle will cause the divided parties to reconsider their “selfishness” and drive them toward “selflessness?”
            The Parents Pledge of Vigilance is one such tool.  While it may not be the only one, it is a way of recognizing the priority of anti-Terrorism in a child.  It is a way of putting “first things first.”
            And for those in a marriage that is rocky, and divorce is a consideration, think about becoming a Parent of Vigilance also.   Until the final papers are signed and the final axe has dropped, there is always time to repair the damage, or to rekindle a lost love, or to regenerate a new one.   If a Terrorist held a gun to a child’s head and told the parents he would “kill it” if they didn’t find a resolution to their marriage, there is little doubt that such an attempt would be made by the parents.
            Essentially, divorce is about a child being Terrorized with a gun to its head.   Children only see the Terror of separation, the void, the emptiness.   They don’t see the “adult” viewpoint where two mature people refuse to resolve differences.   They only see the selfishness of their parents, and the void that awaits them once the axe has fallen.
            There are certain situations where an abusive parent creates more Terror by being present than he or she would in separation.    But not in fifty-percent of the cases.
            Half of American marriages end in divorce.   Millions of children are Terrorized by it in greater or lesser degrees.   And, I could bet that none of those who get divorced took the Parents Pledge of Vigilance before they took their wedding vows.  Had they, the odds are they would use the Pledge to help overpower their differences, and weave love back into broken hearts so that the children would see that their parents stood for the commitment they made—to love, honor and cherish their children.
            So when my son-in-law came home the other night, and the children rushed to him and eagerly absorbed his being there for them, I felt the hole in my soul widen.
            In my own case, I felt the emptiness of a part of my life return.   I felt the sadness of so many nights waiting for the knock on the door, or the sound of my father’s footsteps coming in to tuck me into bed, and tell me how much he loved me.
            Those things never happened.  
            I still wish they did.

Go To Diary, Dec 28--Terrorism Within--We Are The "Pack Of Wild Dogs."

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