Dear Anti-Vaxxer Mom,
I saw you today. Your beautiful children were sitting in the backseat of your vehicle, and you stood there at the part of the road where the grass would have just begun, if it were summer but it isn’t summer, so the grass was dead.
Your nose was red in the cold, and your hair was swept up intermittently in the wind. Your eyes seemed wet, but perhaps it was simply the biting wind making them appear so. Your hands were shoved in the pockets of your long, black wool coat and your shoulders were hunched up near your ears in an effort to ward off the freezing rain.
It seems the weather is always terrible on the day of a funeral.
I wondered how you must have felt, and I wondered why you were even there.
I stood beneath the black tent the cemetery had set up. The tents have to be black, see, because any other color would indicate some level of hope or cheer.
And there is no hope here. There is no cheer today.
Beneath this small black tent, there is agonizing, raw pain.
There is a pastor shouting against the wind, words of love and peace, struggling to be heard.
There is a grandfather, openly weeping with great, racking sobs.
There is a mother clutching a fistful of dirt, trembling so hard she cannot release it over the lowered casket containing her little girl.
Her daughter had deep blue eyes and dark brown curls and a splatter of freckles across her nose.
Her baby girl was missing three front teeth, and liked dinosaurs.
She’d just outgrown her soccer cleats. She loved soccer.
Her daughter had a primary immunodeficiency, and couldn’t fight off the measles that broke out in her second-grade class last month.
I watched you turn away before the service was finished, and the red brake lights of your minivan were visible for a long time, even as the storm darkened the sky.
I wondered if you went home and hugged your children and cried, or if you flipped on the television and watched old Seinfeld reruns to settle your shaken soul.
I know there is nothing you can do to right the situation, because what is there? To say you are sorry? What a slap in the face of a grieving mother. Would you take a casserole to her home, to somehow feed her agony?
No. There is nothing you can do, not now.
It’s too late.
But I wanted to tell you, I really am glad your son survived his bout with measles and seems to have come through unscathed.
If he’d been vaccinated, perhaps he never would have had to experience it to begin with.
If he’d been vaccinated, perhaps that little girl would be home in her mother’s arms, instead of alone in the cold ground.
I hear it’s supposed to storm again tomorrow.