Tuesday, August 30, 2016

To have to bury a child

My thoughts today are with one of my best high school friends, who will bury her youngest child, a 12-year-old son, this morning.

There were 6 of us in this particular nerd herd.  We had pretty much all our classes together for four years, although a couple of us took Spanish instead of French.  In a graduating class of only 69 girls, it wasn't strange to be with the same group of people constantly.

If memory serves, three of us went to the same college in town, two went to the state university, and another went out of state.  Two live out of state and have for years.  The remaining four still live in the same city, although in different areas of town.  All but one have married.  Four have children.

Yesterday, I went to the visitation to pay my respects, to attempt to offer in presence the words that I cannot sufficiently express verbally.  We hugged so, so tightly, in an embrace that makes me hope that my friend knows just how much I ache for her.  I like to think her hug of me suggests how much she appreciated having someone from her younger life be there.

One of the things we discussed, in the brief way you do at wakes, is whether we ever would have dreamed we would 1. be middle-aged mothers with kids and 2. be in a position where one of us would be dealt the greatest of parenting blows.

As teenage girls in our uniforms, traipsing through the halls, we never, ever would have dreamed it.  It doesn't feel real now, and I am not even in the midst of great suffering.
It is difficult for me to try to understand the pain she is experiencing.

I have found myself thinking the thought, "No one should have to bury their child, " and while I do think that, I also know that many, many parents, both now and in ages past, have had to suffer that fate.  For all I know, I may one day suffer that fate.

As much as modern American life has removed us from the commonality of child loss, with surgeries and antibiotics and accessible health care, I have been thinking about the people I know who have watched their children die.

Mr. B, whose three-year-old son died from cancer.
EV, whose 4-month-old son died from a virus.
M and T, who endured the loss of two children--both sons--one to stillbirth and another at 9 hours of age as a result of Trisomy 18.
And now SB.

And these are the deaths of children, but even if a person watches an adult child die, that adult child was their child.  The child they birthed and adored and watched grow.  My aunt has lost two children in the past few years---one to suicide and another to cancer.  She is old and tired and has experienced much in her life, but I do not think she will ever get over these losses.

It is a loss that you somehow move on from and yet never move on from, or at least this is how I perceive it.

I am not a prayerful person.  I do not go to God to ask for pain to be removed or a miracle to be performed.  I do not give God all the credit and say "God is good" when things go the way I like,   nor do I say "God sucks" when things do not go my way.  I do not understand God or the ways of life in its great big wideness.

What I do understand and believe in is that powerful interconnectedness of people, which may be the hand of God that we all expect to be bigger and greater and more awe-inspiring.

Maybe God is in the tighness of a hug, when one friend from long ago is holding another friend from long ago and wishing there was something she could do to reduce her friend's sadness, give her comfort, offer her peace, in the face of her worst nightmare.  

1 comment:

Peggy said...

Carrie, you have expressed your thoughts in a very touching way, and you are so right in the things you have said. I have thought about this family a lot since I learned this sad news. Thanks for putting a lot of my thoughts into words.