Category Archives: death of a child

When you don’t get to say goodbye …

it leaves a void; a hole that can never be filled, a wound that never quite heals.  No one ever thinks that the last time you see someone will be the last time you see someone.

It doesn’t matter if it is a friend, husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, child.  It just doesn’t matter.  We always expect to have the next time.

But sometimes there isn’t one.

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn that leaves us bewildered and wondering what, if we had  been given the chance, we would have said.

I found this out myself, first-hand, a few years ago.  I said goodnight to my husband and the next morning, as I did every day, left him sleeping when I went to work.  .

I, as every day before, left him a note telling him good morning and that I loved him, but didn’t wake him because there would be plenty of time when I got home for idle chat.  While I was working and running petty, unneeded errands, he left this world and when I got home, ready to share my day with him, he was dead.

There was no next time.

No next moment.

No next day.

I was devastated.

How could something like this happen?  How could there be so many things left unsaid?  So many dreams left unfulfilled?  So many moments that never found their way into the reality of every day life?

It is disheartening to find oneself with so many unanswered questions and unsaid words of love and devotion.  It seems that as time passes, there are even more words that come to mind that, if there had been the chance, I would have said.

We, none of us, have a promise of a single minute other than the one we are currently living in.  I learned a valuable lesson that day.  I learned to say what I was thinking, speak my mind and share my heart with the ones that are important to me.

But as all things, as the world continues to turn and time continues to pass, old habits find a way of re-entering my life.  I find that there are things I want to say, but wait because I am certain that now is not the time.  Or maybe I can’t seem to find the courage to speak that which is in my heart.

Either way, it means that I really didn’t learn anything from my experience and that all the pain and sorrow I suffered was for nothing.

What is it about being human that makes us hold what we feel so close to our vest?  To keep the thoughts and wanderings in our minds, hearts and souls to ourselves because we either feel that we will be misunderstood, ridiculed or simply ignored?

What is it that makes us feel that we are less than we are simply because we doubt our own importance in an ever-changing world?

I don’t want to be that way.  I want the people I love and care about to know that I love and care about them.  I want them to know that I think about them often, sometimes daily and sometimes several times a day.  I want to have the courage to tell people when they have hurt me so that they will know what moves my heart.

Time is fleeting and life is too short, even when there aren’t extenuating circumstances.

I look at my own life and instead of embracing it for what I have learned, I compare it to the lives of those around me.  I belittle my own experiences because in my mind, they are mundane when placed side by side with others.  I make excuses to keep my thoughts to myself and find reasons not to say what I need to say.

But if I don’t say what is in my heart, then if, while I sleep, I die, those words and thoughts will die with me.  The same goes for everyone.  There isn’t always another chance, another day, another moment in time.

Sometimes the last time really is the last time.

I try, sometimes, to remember the last words I said to my husband and I can’t.  I know at some point, I told him I loved him, but did he know just how much?

Did he know how I respected him for his knowledge and contribution to my growth in life and spirit?

Did he know that I needed him?

I can only hope where he is concerned, but in the here and now, with family, friends and loved ones, I have the power to tell them what I need them to know.  The power is mine and mine alone and if I choose to keep the words to myself, then if some unknown event occurs, the power that was mine will become a weakness I will be given no choice but to live with.

Life is short.  Don’t waste a moment.  Don’t miss an opportunity to tell someone you love them, are proud of them, are happy for them, miss them, are praying for them.  Don’t let the sun set on words unsaid for there is no promise that the sun will rise on that life in the morning.

Be well, my dear ones, and give each other the words that only your heart can say.  For tomorrow may not come and then the words will have no place to go.

spiritofjim

Standing still as shattered pieces fall …

and cut me over and over is something that I know intimately, but I realized today that though I know it, I only know a little piece of it.  I have tried to imagine, even while I know I cannot fathom such an atrocity;  losing a child.  Then to realize that not only have I lost my child, but that nineteen other children were lost at the same time is immeasurable.  I find that each time I think of such a horror, I burst out in tears for those who are facing that situation even now.  Knowing that the world is mourning my loss would be of little or no consolation when faced with an empty bed in an empty room in an empty house in a now empty life.  Knowing that there were nineteen different families who found themselves in the situation I was in would bring no comfort, only more bafflement, anger and grief.  I think I would find it hard not to be bitter even as I was grateful, that there are parents everywhere holding their children safe this night.  There are no words, no gestures, no deeds of goodwill that can even begin to bring comfort after such a senseless and brutal death of a child.  No human words or gestures, anyway.    Losing a child is losing a child, be it from sickness after months of hope and prayers or because that child is taken by the hands of a madman, a stranger, who decided to gun them down in cold blood for sins that the children had not committed. The little children are innocents and because of it, the battle becomes not one against nature or sickness, but of one against evil.  It doesn’t make the loss any less painful, but it does make it different.

I have spent the better part of the evening trying to wrap my mind around what a relatively small, close-knit community must be feeling at this moment.  I have not succeeded.  Each time I picture in my mind’s eye the tiny bodies lying shot to death, I have to remind myself that I live in a country where young children are not gunned down as they attend kindergarten class.  I tell myself that surely, there has been some mistake and that twenty children were not killed for a reason known only to a madman.  I tell myself that it couldn’t possibly happen where I live and then immediately seek out my nieces and hug them so hard that they complain about it.  I find that I cannot let them go.  They squirm and complain, but letting them out my arms before I have breathed in the scent of them, touched their sweet little lips to mine and stroked their downy hair is not an option, not for a while, not until I am convinced that they are real and safe and accounted for.  Something that twenty families in a small town in Connecticut will never have the opportunity to do again.  The sorrow and pain that I feel is no more than a drop of rain in a writhing ocean compared to theirs and that in itself makes me cry even harder.  I want to help.  I want to console.  I want to encourage.  I want to bring comfort.  But it is not in my power.

I cannot comfort them with words or gestures.  Their lives have been irrevocably changed for the worse.  What likely started as a normal day for these families ended in bone-crushing sorrow and depths of despair that cannot be described within the confines of this blog.  The cries and screams of mothers and fathers will echo down every valley and soar above the highest mountains for days and weeks and years to come.  Such sorrow cannot be contained and even though I did not hear them with my ears, my heart breaks at the sound I know is there and I find myself sobbing, yet again, for what cannot be changed.

I will do the only thing I know to do for them and that is to pray for comfort in a time of sorrow so black and so deep, an abyss that seems to have no way out.  Time, it is said, is a great healer, and from personal experience, I know that to be true … but time has never had to heal me from the loss of a child and I find that while I have compassion and a deep, deep sorrow for the loss, I cannot even begin to comprehend it.

Lifting up, in the name of Jesus, those who will be unable to stand for a long time is the only recourse I have.  But stand they will and fight they will and remember they will.  The road will be difficult and strewn with landmines and  obstacles that will take them backwards more than forwards; at least for  a time.  They will never get over it, may not get past it, but hopefully, can one day, come to terms with it enough to get out of bed in the morning.

This night, as the nation and the world mourns the needless loss of little children, may we join together and pray collectively so that a veil of protection can be woven around the grieving families.  Let us tear our clothing and throw ourselves to the ground to wail for that which threatens to suffocate us.  They have suffered enough for a lifetime.  Let us pray that that they can face it tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.

The little children are in the hands of God, but the hands of their parents are empty and their hearts are shattered.  Join me as I pray that they will be able to find some measure of comfort in some aspect of this tragedy and that in time, the memories that hurt them so deeply now will somehow bring them the comfort they seek.  I don’t know what else to do.

soaringhawk

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.