When our children are infants, we worry about them suffocating in their sleep because a soft blanket or stuffed animal is too close to them in the crib.
When they are babies, beginning to eat solid food, we worry about them choking on food - an uncut grape or a piece of popcorn. When they are toddlers, we worry they will open a cabinet and find something sharp or poisonous. When they are children, we worry about them running out in front of a car in a parking lot or falling off a skateboard without a helmet on. When they are teenagers, we worry about them making bad choices, permanent choices, like getting in to the car with a drunk driver. And when they finally grow up and go out into the world, well, we worry about everything ...
But I can't imagine the parents of Alison Parker and Adam Ward being worried that their children would die doing their jobs on a Wednesday morning in small town Virginia at a water park amidst a hail of gunfire at the hands of a disturbed former co-worker.
Every time I see Alison's father, Andy Parker, on TV, I get choked up. I can't imagine what his pain is like after losing his 24-year-old daughter in such a horrific and public way, a daughter he refers to as "my treasure." In a span of a few days, I've watched him go from profound sadness to intense anger, an understandable shift.
I have interviewed many parents who have lost a child. But this case hits closer to home for obvious reasons. You see, I was Alison Parker. I worked my way up through small-market television in places where my co-workers became my family, places where I made no money, but made great memories, places that seasoned me as a journalist and prepared me for the road ahead. While many of my friends were still figuring things out after graduating from college, I was working 70 hour weeks, overnight shifts, and living on peanut butter and pasta. So, even though I didn't know Alison or Adam, I can relate to the place they were in their lives when it was taken from them.
But now, I see the tragedy from a different perspective. I am a parent. I don't have children their age, but I could. As a parent, I can't wrap my head around this tragedy - two young lives erased so senselessly, in such a traumatic way.
I am reminded of the Elizabeth Stone quote about having children: "It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
This is the risk we take as parents.
I wish I had answers. I don't. Just keep Alison and Adam's parents in your hearts and hug your kids as often as you can.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here Mondays.