1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Death: The permanent cessation of all
vital functions in an animal or plant.

Dan Duff

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 make the 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 child???