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"The Force of Love"

"The ride picked up speed, and by the second time around the loop, Molly was pushed by the centrifugal force of the circling ride to the outer edge of her seat. As the cars sped around and around, she looked smaller and smaller in her seat, her fingers gripped tightly to the metal bar in front of her. I saw the terror imprinted on her face, the paralyzing fear that the ride would not end, that she would be holding tight, spinning in circles, alone, for time unimaginable."

I'm sure that all parents have moments that they regret, moments when they witnessed as their child lost his or her sense of security--and could not, for whatever reason, come to the rescue quickly enough. "The Force of Love" is a story of one of those moments. It is about a small, rather ordinary event, but it is one that I hold close in my memory because I could not save my increasingly independent, not-quite-four-year-old daughter from a ride that was meant to bring joy, not terror. Thankfully, the ride eventually came to an end (though not quickly enough), and all was right with her world again--until the next time she ventured out beyond her zone of comfort. But she always had--and has--parents to return to, where she may catch her breath and be safe.

Today, as I reread and share this story, which I wrote many months ago, I cannot but think of the thousands of children who have recently been separated from their families in this country, held without comfort or loved ones, spinning round and round on a ride that they cannot get off of. And I think of the white-knuckled, worried parents, not knowing who is feeding, and holding, and comforting the frightened children torn who are impossibly out of sight and out of reach.

The force of a parent's love is overwhelming and fiercely strong, motivating parents to do impossible things, but in this instance, it cannot reunite them with their separated children. That work requires, I both fear and am hopeful, the force of an entire nation's conscience...and love.

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