It's dark and I'm sitting outside on the deck. A soft rain falls; the humidity broke with last night's thunderstorm and it is a beautiful summer night. My kids are all asleep, safe and comfortable in their beds. They are clean and fed. They snuggle with their lovey bears and dream of playdates and cupcakes.
They don't know what it is like to be cold in winter or unbearably hot in summer. They don't know what it is like to have to choose who will eat, for it not to be their turn for the day's rations. They have no idea what it is like to go hungry. To be nasty. To be thirsty. To feel alone.
Today, as they hung out in the backyard, Michael ended up on the ground. He was dirty and a bit scraped up from the twelve inch fall, but he was fine. He cried. He cried because the scratches stung, because he was scared, because it hurt. He cried, knowing he would be comforted and held and loved. He cried, knowing that this was an outlying event and that his little, three year old life would go back to normal... which it did.
I see the images of a boy who, although he is five years old, looks like my three year old. I see him, dirty and bloody from an air raid- an air raid... a scene played out in Syria, day after day, a scene that he has probably known about daily since birth since the war has been going on since 2010. I see him, silent. No tears. No screaming. No asking for his mother (who was still being rescued by volunteers). He doesn't expect a lollipop for being brave or a trip to the arcade for sitting through his stitches like a big boy.
He probably wanted to go home. But his home was gone. The strike destroyed his home. Maybe he was learning to read and now his books are tattered ashes. Maybe, like my kids, he had a lovey that is now nothing but scraps.
This is the world we live in. A world where children are born into war. A world where children are bloody and damaged and aching, yet do not cry.
I can hold my kids close and hope they never experience what this child has. But I can't close my eyes and wish his broken image away. My heart breaks for him and all of the children like him. I wish beyond measure that I could scoop those children up and give them a childhood.