I cannot in my wildest imagination know how it feels to loose a
child to death. I can
imagine them running off or maybe disappearing for a while, but
always I imagine them
returning as the prodigal son to the warmth and tenderness of home.
For the second time in a little over a year I have been told of a
family member or a friend
loosing a son. The latest coming just a week or so ago, I feel
compelled to give this some
thought and I as I do I shudder to think that one of my own would
precede me in death.
I can imagine trying to come to grips with facing such a reality
because it happens. It
happens to the rich and poor. It happens to the famous and the
infamous. It happens to
good and bad people and of late it happens too often.
The latest situation I had to deal with was a brother in law who was
awakened at four in
the morning and told that his son was dead. Stunned and shocked he
groped his way
through three or four days of everything from going to the morgue to
identification to making arrangements and holding a service that is
supposed to give
closure to this type of ordeal.
At such a time we think back on the life of the individual and
remember the good things.
We try not to remember the problems of puberty and those awkward
teenage years. We
try not to remember the first time they stayed out way past curfew
or keeping the parents
up all night with worry. Instead we try to remember those things,
times and places that
gave us pleasure. Times like their first birthday party. You
remember, its the one you
took the photo with cake all over the highchair and the child,
while none of it made its
way to anyone’s stomach.
We remember their first step and their first words. We remember
their first time going
without a diaper after what seemed like years of potty training.
The first time they got
their hair cut. We remember the tears in our eyes as they entered
school for the first time
and how much more brave they were than us.
We remember the first time they fell in love and the heartbreak when
they broke up. We
remember their first job and all the huge plans they had for that
very small pay check.
We tried so hard to show them the right way and the right paths to
start their first
adventures of life. We worked with them and the college or trade
school to get them
doing what they thought would be their vocation.
We try to remember all their successes and try to forget their
failures. Most of all we try
to make some sense for them leaving us so soon. Why did it happen?
Was there anything
we could have done that would have kept it from happening?
We all have it in our hearts and minds that our children will bury
us. We even try our
best to prepare them by telling them just what we wish done when we
pass and what to do
with the few possessions we leave behind. We even try to make sure
we have enough
money set aside so we don’t burden them with any unwanted expenses.
It is not all that
easy talking about our passing, even though with each passing year
it becomes that much
more inevitable. We know its coming just as we knew when it came
our parents turn to
go. Yes we miss them and we remember all the lessons they taught
us. There is a void
there. No matter how long before hand we know or under what
conditions they died,
there is still a void.
When a child dies its different. They die out of time as we know
it. Even at times when
there is a great illness that is expected to end in death, we refuse
to accept it. We hope
against hope that fate will deal pleasantly with us and restore the
child to health.
There are always lingering questions that pop into the back of our
minds months and
years after their death. Questions about his life, questions about
our own lives.
Questions that gnaw at our inner being on a daily basis. The only
way to describe it
would be to have permanent jet lag. That feeling in the pit of your
stomach that tells you
its mixed up and doesn’t know whether its time to eat or time to
sleep or if it is daylight
or dark. A permanent feeling of ..... if, if only.... or why my