The news all too often brings stories of a parent's mourning: a child killed in an accident, by a ravaging disease, by a gunshot. It is impossible not to imagine ourselves in the same position.
What would we do? How would we go on?
The urge is perhaps to enter his or her room for a reassuring look. Or to call or text our children no matter how early or late the hour.
When it happens to the vice president of the United States, we are reminded once more that tragedy spares no one. What we can learn from a father who has overcome tragedy before is that the bonds of love and devotion are what matter most.
There is nothing as unnatural as a parent forced to mourn and bury a child. Vice President Joe Biden now must do the unthinkable for a second time.
Saturday night, Biden announced that his son, Joseph R. Biden III, 46, called Beau, had died of brain cancer. In 1972 Joe Biden' s first wife, Neilia, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car accident. Beau and his brother, Hunter, were also injured in that accident.
To hear Biden console others by telling how his focus on Beau and Hunter pulled him through the worst of times only makes his new loss all the more heartbreaking.
Beau Biden was a veteran of combat in Iraq, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. More importantly, he was a father who left behind two young children. He was a two-term attorney general of Delaware, but that matters less than his role as a husband, and the wife who must forge a path without him. He planned a run for the governorship of Delaware next year.
We all try to make the lives we build as solid and stable as possible, but we know the foundations are vulnerable. The unimaginably awful can and does happen.
We pray for the Bidens today, that they may overcome such a tragedy. And we pray that we may never have to face one like it.