Yesterday I learned that a friend of one of my daughters had died of a heroin overdose on Thanksgiving Day.
The day before I was walking my dog at 4:30 pm when I saw a helicopter hovering in a fixed position a few blocks away. It turned out that a student had been shot multiple times in the torso at 3:30 pm near the high school.
I recall the words of Mark Doty in his memoir Dog Years, "Getting a dog is a contract with grief." He explained that when you get a dog, you know it has a life span of 15 or 16 years at the most, but you still throw your heart into the relationship, eventually facing loss.
Children are like dogs in that respect. You don't generally outlive them, but you set out on a unknown path with a being you love, not knowing where it will lead.
Choosing to bear or adopt a child is an act of courage. It certainly entails pain as well as joy. Hooray for all of us who do it and try so hard.
If one could distill "humanity at its best," the suffering of parents would be in that pure drop.