Being a parent is the most rewarding as well as the most difficult thing that we will ever undertake. We agonize how best to teach and protect and feel each scraped knee or hurt feeling more deeply than if we suffered the offense ourselves. We beat ourselves up with guilt when we perceive that we have failed in our duty.
There is no doubt that the parents of Samuel Ives have been racked with guilt and have second-guessed their actions on the night of June 17, 2007 when young Sam was killed by a black bear. Most of us can’t even imagine the horror and grief they have felt for nearly four years.
Blaming the U.S. Forest Service for the loss of their son is likely a defense mechanism to try and deflect the feelings of guilt and remorse that they have grappled with. If they would have chosen another campsite or another night, if they would have paid the $13 fee to stay in an established campground instead of opt to save the cash by camping up the road – perhaps the tragedy could have been averted. They’ll never know.
Realistically there are no guarantees. Unless we keep our children sequestered, they will get hurt. Hopefully their injuries will not be fatal, but sadly some of them will be. If we stuck a warning label on every danger out there, kids would never ride a bike, go swimming, fly a kite, swing a baseball bat, blow up a balloon, or sleep in a tent.
If you want to live your life, you will take some risks and most of us decide that the risks are worth it. We plan, prepare, and educate our children but we can’t make the world a risk-free environment or growing up a fail-safe endeavor.
Sam’s parents have vowed to use the $1.9 million awarded to them to “prevent this from happening to anyone else.” That is a hopeless dream. As long as we bring children into the world, and as long as we want them to experience all that life has to offer – things like this will happen and parents will grieve.
It’s all part of having our hearts “walk around on the outside of our bodies.”