Dear Rebecca Kowalski,
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I will not pretend to know the utter grief you are experiencing for the loss of your son, Chase, but I have cried with you from hundreds of miles away. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t cried for you, for every mother who lost a child on Friday. I promise, the whole nation mourns with you. There are no words to convey what my heart feels, but I’m going to try my best; like the rest of America, I have been speechless, my voice blocked by the tears that choke me.
When the names were released, your son, Chase, was one of the first. I could could not control the sobs that racked my body. I know you are a complete stranger, but you see, my name is Rebecca as well, and my third little boy, who started kindergarten this year, is named Chase. Just like your Chase, mine is a Cub-Scout, and he lives for his brand-new bike. Just like your Chase, ours has bright blue eyes, blonde hair, and an infectious smile. But it is utterly unfair that I can tuck mine in to sleep tonight, and you cannot.
I am devastated by your loss.
We live in Upstate New York, and our children attend a primary school K-4 that has 480 students. Our village is small, almost as if Norman Rockwell painted it to life. But though we live five hours apart, you and I, that distance seemed so much smaller on Friday. That day, the school nurse phoned us to say that Chase had an accident at school, his first all year. She apologized to my husband when he arrived, bringing Chase a new set of clothes. My husband hugged our little boy and told the nurse not to worry, far worse calls were going out for the parents of kindergartners that day.
The stories that emerged broke my heart bit by bit until there was nearly nothing left by the time my children arrived home from school on Friday. Across this country, we held our breaths with you, aware that you were living the worst nightmare of every parent in this country. I wish I could have done something, eased enough of your burden to make it more bearable, but all I could do was gather my boys to me, hold them, and breathe in the scent of sunshine and little boy in their hair.
But I know you cannot do the same, and I am so very sorry.
I need you to know what your son has done for us. We don’t know you, and we didn’t know your Chase, but we will think of him every day. Because you cannot, I hold my Chase a little tighter, I speak a little sweeter, I’m a little slower to temper. Because you cannot, I kiss Chase one more time at bedtime, read another story, hug him a little longer. Because your Chase cannot be here, I am aware of just how precious mine is, how much we cherish the very air he breathes and the rhythm of his feet on our floor as he runs through the house after we beg him to slow down. Your loss, as utterly gutting as it is, is inspiring a nation to value what we often take for granted: the simple presence of our children.
There are no words to adequately comfort you, no actions that can assuage the grief of a parent for the loss of their child. But I hold you in my prayers every day, and I will think of your Chase as mine grows. Though I cannot bring him back to you, I swear that he will never be forgotten in this house.
All of our love and condolences,
The Yarros Family.