Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Mother Should Never . . .

This is not the post I had scheduled for today. I apologize to those of you who come to the Lair for levity and jokes. We have a reputation here of fun and funny, but as I looked over the three posts I had drafted, not one of them was right.

You see, today I watched a mother bury her son, and everything else seemed trivial and insignificant by comparison.

My youngest son’s friend Steve died last Wednesday. He was thirty-one years old. He owned his own landscaping business and his own home. Steve had been Rand’s friend since they were in elementary s
chool and was a former high-school student of mine.

In the church I attend occasionally, a funeral isn’t so much a wake or display of mourning as a celebration of the departed person’s life. Laughter, jokes, a wistful recounting of the person’s life, and an opportunity to see distant and near family and friends abound, along with loads of food and plenty of tears.

As I stared at Steve’s casket, I thought of all the things he’d never be able to do now – marry, father a child, grow old – and that was the real tragedy for me. But, as women are wont to be, his mother was remarkably sturdy, and I wondered what higher power buoyed her up.

In the Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, attendees talk about reliance on this Higher Power. You don’t have to believe in the same God as everyone else, or even believe in a deity at all. Your Higher Power can be Elohim, Jehovah, Allah, the Oversoul, your family, or a surprising range of other sources.

I like that idea because it allows that we in the human condition are weak vessels, raised up by our stronger halves so that if frail, we can become ferocious; if susceptible, we can be steadfast.

One of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems suggests that "hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all."

As I grow older, I have fewer certainties, but
two things I know for sure:

A person should never outlive his hope.

A mother should never bury her child.



When grief strikes my life, there are three places I turn: my amazing family, the soothing balm of music, and the great literature of suffering written throughout the ages.


Any writer has to attend to human tragedy and the human predicament. What do you writers and readers look to in times of tragedy? How do you receive comfort?

58 comments:

Shannyn said...

Hi - First, let me say I'm sorry for your friend's loss. I agree - no mother should ever have to bury her child. My grandmother buried two husbands and a son (my father) and continued to live a long and full life. As a teenager, I often wondered if I could have that strength. Now, as a mother, I am even less sure.

I think writers and readers turn to family and friends, just as anyone else would. But those friends may be the characters that we read or create when we write. We share their experiences and we often connect with them on levels that our "real" friends don't get.

As a writer, I always turn to my closest friends, pen and paper. Writing down everything, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone but me, is helpful. The catharsis can be enlightening.

Jane said...

My condolences to your friend's family. As a reader, I would go to my comfort reads. These books can be religious in nature or you can choose books which bring you enjoyment or provide a diversion. Family and friends will help provide support.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Jo, thank you for sharing this very moving post with us. The world is indeed full of tragedy, and experiencing it, no matter how difficult, makes us better writers, I think.

I do seek out those I love most during sad times. I also love to listen to my favorite music. Beethoven's 6th symphony is at the top of my list as a comfort.

I can't even fathom how terrible it would be to lose a child (of any age).

AC

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, firstly I'd like to add my sympathy for your friend's loss. That's something of such unbelievable magnitude, it's so hard to get your head around, isn't it? And love to you - this stuff affects everyone.

Actually at really tough times, I tend to walk and put something I really, really love on the CD. I've had Bach and I've had James Blunt in recent memory. I find looking at the sea really helps me - there's something about the endlessness and the constancy of it, in spite of all its changes, that just restores my faith in the universe.

Christine Wells said...

Jo, what a lovely post. I'm so sorry that a man had to die so young and I understand why a lighthearted post didn't seem appropriate today. It seems inconceivable that we'll get through certain devastating events until we're faced with them, I think. Then the human spirit really rises to the occasion.

I know this sounds a bit cliched but I sometimes write poetry to express grief or deep emotion. It helps, I'm not sure why.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Jo, such a hard subject, but you've handled it so well. I'm so sorry for your friend and your son, losing someone so special in their lives.

Jo wrote:A mother should never bury her child.

Unfortunately, I do have to deal with this many times throughout the year as a Labor and Delivery nurse. It is so very difficult. There isn't a time when a young mother loses her child that I don't cry right along with her and her family.

A young nurse asked me why I read almost exclusively romances. One of the reasons I love books with HEA's is they renew my soul so that the strength and compassion can be focused on my patients if they should need it. Reading the books with dismal heart-wrenching endings or depressing topics doesn't give me that renewal/

Gillian Layne said...

My condolences to your friend's family. I'm quite certain only the belief in an afterlife in which you will reunite with loved ones would keep me functioning.

There are many comforting words in the Bible. Nature is very comforting; I find being inside after a tragedy very claustrophobic. And having beloved animals near as well as dear friends and family is a comfort, since animals don't mind silence.

Helen said...

Jo my sympathy for your friends and yourself
A mother should never bury her child
I remember my Mother In Law saying those exact words at my brother in laws funeral I had just had my first child she was 4 months old and one of my husbands brothers was killed in a car accident he was 16 years old it was one of the most devestating days I have ever had one of his friends from school read a quote that said
"If tears could build a stairway to heaven I would walk up and bring you back"

When I am sad I turn to my family and friends and listen to music as well soothing music.

Helen

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Jo, my sympathy to you and your friend. It is always a tragedy when death strikes, it just seems more of a tragedy when the person that passes was young.

Buffie said...

Oh, Jo, what a tough time this has to be for you and your son, let alone for that family who has loss a part of their heart. I too feel that no parent should bury their child.

In time of hardship and sorrow, I turn to my family and my God. They are the only things that see me through.

Amy Andrews said...

Condolences Jo to you and yours on this tragic loss.

Not being religious I tend to be a bit of a railer against the fates myself, but I do agree with Anna - the sea can be terribly comforting.

Carol said...

A very sad time for you all.
I love this poem, I find the words very lovely.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye (1904-2004),

terrio said...

My sympathies go out to you and your family, Jo. This is a beautiful tribute to a life taken much too early. Living in a military community, I hear about so many young men and women dying and it makes me tear up everytime.

I have a friend who lost her best friend as a teen, her mother in her 20s, and a baby and niece in her 30s. I see the toll these losses have taken on her and understand that some wounds never completely heal.

I go into my head when I need strength and music is a comfort for me. I try to remember that the person is not truly lost but always with us. Sometimes that helps, sometimes it doesn't.

jo robertson said...

What a beautiful comment, Shannyn (and a lovely way to spell your name), about turning to our characters as friends. Writing is very cathartic, as you say, and can alleviate a lot of our pain.

jo robertson said...

Interesting you should comment on looking at the ocean, Anna, and how lucky you live so close! We're about a 2 1/2 hour drive to the Pacific, but I've always been fascinated by the beauty and terror of the ocean. For some reason all that raw magesty inspires me too. I feel so tiny against its background.

Farrah Rochon said...

Very sad indeed. I truly believe a person is not given more than they can handle. The mother of one of my high school classmates has buried both of her sons, one when he was 23, the other just last year, at age 36. Both killed in tragic car accidents. She also lost her husband in a boating accident man years ago, before he turned 40. I would be overwhelmed if in her shoes, but she has shouldered the pain so admirably. All I can say is to take comfort in the fact that you are their to provide support for your friend.

jo robertson said...

Thanks for your sympathy, Jane and AC. I sat beside my 29-year old troubled son and wondered how I'd manage if it were he who'd had so many unfulfilled dreams. But, as I said, we women are sturdy creatures, aren't we?

Christine, yes, I too write poetry -- very, very bad poetry, but it seems to help.

And on a light-hearted note, my prepared post entitled "Flying Balls and Stiff Shafts" seemed totally inappropriate for today. Although, on second thought, Steve would've gotten a kick out of it.

jo robertson said...

Suz, bless you for being courageous enough to deal with such tragedy.

I agree Gillian; sometimes you just can't breathe inside and being in wide open spaces is the only relief.

What a beautiful quote, Helen. Dang! You got me all crying again.

jo robertson said...

Carol, thanks so much for sharing that beautiful poem. I was looking for it when I wrote the post, but couldn't remember the author. It's one of my favorites!

Buffie and Dianna, thank you.

jo robertson said...

Amy, I don't consider myself very religious either, but I find great comfort in my family's strength. I figure I can ride on the coat tails of their faith for a bit.

Terrio, I really believe that -- irrespect of religious belief -- there's some essence of the person that remains with us, even if only in our memories.

jo robertson said...

Oh, Farrah, how truly tragic for your friend. I cannot imagine the wrenching pain of losing any one of my seven children. When I was a young mother, someone suggested to me that since I had so many children, perhaps the loss of one wouldn't be so great.

WHAT???? I still remember the shock I felt to this day. Didn't she realize that each child, no matter how troublesome -- and SOME of my sons have had their grand moments -- is precious beyond expression?

I'm still shaking my head at the woman's careless remark.

p226 said...

Wow. The title of this blog entry really shook me up. I am not the right person to answer this question. The answers I chose were all the wrong ones.

Here's an excerpt from ... something ... I dunno what to call it... but something I wrote on the 20 year anniversary of probably the worst thing that ever happened in my life...


Could I possibly have known that I'd think of you daily?
That I'd still feel the emptiness?
That I'd pray for the infrequent visits you pay me in my dreams?
That I'd still feel the burning scar left on my soul as your mother wailed in my arms?


That last line there. That's what the title of this post brought back with crystal stunning clarity. I'd never seen pain like that. I haven't seen it since. I never want to see it again. I'll look away. I'll walk away.

All of my answers on how to seek/find/receive comfort are the wrong ones, I assure you.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jo - I'm so sorry for the loss of such a young life, and my heartfelt sympathies to the poor mother who has to bury him. She buries not only past boyish smiles and memories, but the hope of future generations as well.

A good friend of mine had to bury her 25 year old son. The one year anniversary of his death was this weekend. She hasn't recovered from the tremendous grief. I'm not sure she ever will. I know her faith has been shaken and I pray that someday she'll emerge stronger than before.

Like Shannyn, I turn to journeling when times get tough, but I honestly can't thing of tougher time than the one you've described. If such a tragedy were to strike, I doubt I'd have the strength to hold a pen.

Kennan said...

very nice post, mom. your poetry is not awful, either. i have a book of it and i've tried to convert some to songs. your best poems are the ones you've written in anger or sadness. writing songs is what i do when tragedy strikes--or love or any strong emotion. but especially sadness. something about poetry and music together, i guess. death is tragic because it is unanswerable.

HollyD said...

My mom died suddenly while my husband was serving in Iraq. This is the poem I wrote and read at her funeral:


How can you be gone, when I’m not fully grown?
Even at 36 and with 4 children of my own.

How can you be gone, on whose shoulder will I cry my tears,
Who will be there to calm all my fears?

How can you be gone, How can God have taken you away,
When I need you for so many more years and a day.

How can you be gone, when I need you to stay,
How can you have left me and gone so far away.

How can you be gone, my sadness is deepest during the nights,
I so expect to see you when I turn on the lights.

How can you be gone, how could you have left me,
When there is so much we planned to do and see.

I know you are gone, when I have reached for the phone to place a call
To tell you something special or important or are nothing really important at all.

I know you are gone, and so with tears in my eyes I will tell you this
I said goodbye when I held your hand and gave it one last kiss.

I know you are gone, and you are worrying and fretting from even up there,
But you needn’t you see to your cat and my kids I vow to tend to with special love and care.

I know you are gone, and I must again say goodbye,
But I know you will always be with me when I look up to the sky.

HollyD said...

I knew I shouldn't have hit enter.

I meant to tell you, my heart goes out to you and your friend.

jo robertson said...

Wow, P226, just when I think you're gonna do a military crawl invasion into the Lair, you come up with something so emotionally raw!

Holly, what a beautiful memorial to your mother. When my mother died, I tried to write a song -- not such a good idea, but my daughter Kennan put the words to music and I love to play it and remember my mom.

jo robertson said...

Hey, Kay-Kay, welcome to the Lair. Kennan's poems are beautiful, slanted-rhyme kinds of pieces which she sets beautifully to music.

Thanks, Donna. Someone said that the shorter time you have with your child, the more painful the loss.

Anna Campbell said...

Carol, what a beautiful poem. Thanks so much for posting it. The thing is that I think it's true about people you love - they're always with you in whatever sense you want to take that. Spirits or memories or a presence or angels. Terrio, I think we feel similarly about that, reading your post.

P226, I don't think there is a right and a wrong way to handle grief. I think we all do it differently - what used to make me wild was people who impose their judgements on how someone should behave at such an awful time. The "It's been a year - she should be partying" line. And I also don't think you ever 'get over' something that really tears you apart. Time gives you perspective and obviously life goes on, yours and everyone else's. But like you said, I still think every day, sometimes every hour, about the people I've loved who aren't with me any more. And I love that I think of them - that's part of them still being alive to me.

Anna Campbell said...

Holly, I'm so sorry for your loss. That poem was beautiful. I don't think it matters how old you are when you lose a parent - it's always too early.

p226 said...

I think you'll have to trust me on this Anna. There's a wrong way to handle grief. And I nearly took that road to its end.

Nancy said...

Jo. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your friend is fortunate to have you with her at this time.

When something awful happens, I turn to the people around me. My mother used a quote of Reinhold Neibuhr (not sure I'm spelling that right) a German theologian who died in a concentration camp, in condolence messages. It talks about the importance of memory.

My family subscribed to the stiff upper lip tradition, so all our grieving was done privately when I was growing up. Publicly, we try to take comfort in the presence of those around us and to remember the good times we had with the person who is gone. Religious faith exists in varying degrees among us. My father, a former POW, sometimes reminded us that all things pass. Whether good or bad, nothing lasts forever.

I agree with you that no parent should have to bury a child. As Suz notes, that tragic task can arise at any time.

I sometimes put on the late Dan Fogelberg's song "Part of the Plan." It helped me through a very difficult breakup when I was in college, and I find the words comforting still.

Kennan said...

hfgn

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Wow, Jo. I'm SO sorry for your son, his friend's family and for you, who too bear the grief of this passing. I did like your description of a church who focuses their service on the joyful life of a person. I have told my DH that if I go first, that he should have a party and tell jokes that would make a sailor blush. (My favorite kind.) I've also told him that if he cremates me, I'll haunt him till HIS dying day. :>

Having been in the funeral biz, I can attest that grief is potent and powerful and expressed uniquely by each person. P226 you used the word "wrong" to describe ways to handle grief, and I agree there are some. There certainly are those that are destructive, which would never have been the desire of the deceased, had they lived.

As all have agreed, it is tragic when a parent, especially a mother, outlives her child. As a genealogist, it's heartrending to read about the ancestors who bore so many beautiful children and then lost all but one or two.

(Which always makes me glad for you Suz! I'm so glad to live in the age of modern medicine and Labor and Delivery nurses!)

As to handling grief, I do it badly, even with coping skills from my time in the "biz", at least as it concerns my own health. :> When you're prepared it's awful, but when you're not, its devastating. And who, really, can be prepared? Even with deep faith, and full knowledge that the soul goes on, the loss of the person on the physical plane is pain.

That being said, I think the only thing anyone can do is look ahead, look forward, or at the very least, put one foot in front of the other, breath in and out even when it hurts to do so, and go on. Then try to find a way to laugh.

So, I'll REALLY look forward to "Flying Balls and Stiff Shafts"!

flchen1 said...

Jo, thank you for today's post. I'm so sorry for Steve's family, and am glad that they were able to celebrate his life and hope that provided them comfort. May God continue to comfort them and give them hope.

As a mom, I know I would be devastated to lose a child, but know that God would provide comfort if that were the case. And I would also look to friends, family, music, books, and other precious parts of our lives to comfort too.

Dina said...

Jo, I sent you a message through the site this mourning, hope you get it.

I'm also sorry about your friend's loss, as I know what they are going through. I was not going to post this originally as I don't want you all to feel more sad.

This is my personal thoughts: I know that each person grieves differently and we can appear fine on the outside, but inside the heart is empty. Some talk about the loved ones and others don't. We go on as expected of us and yes, we're told that it gets easier and we need to move on, but we never forget. We try to be happy because that's what she would want and it is difficult to do, but we try in little ways.

That is one of the reasons that I started to read again, was to help keep my mind occupied and meet new people.

Thanks.
Hugs,
Dina

jo robertson said...

Dina, thanks for the beautiful words of encouragement.

Thanks, Fedora, Steve's family is one of great faith and I am sure that comforts them.

P226, what Jeanne said -- she's a wise woman.

jo robertson said...

Jeanne, thanks for the note of levity. I've assured my husband if he DOESN'T have me cremated, I will haunt him forever. He just rolled his eyes.

We have seven rose bushes planted in our back yard, each one chosen and planted by each of our children. I told him I want him to scatter my ashes there among the rose bushes, but he went all legal on me, and said there were laws against such activities.

Isn't that just like a man who considers driving ten miles over the speed limit "legal"?

Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jo I had to laugh about Dr. Big going all legal on you. Hehee. Then again, as we used to quietly tell the family...are the ash-scattering police going to make you pick them back up? How? And what you do on your property in the quiet of a nice evening...

This is how most people get away with scattering someone's ashes at sea. You usually have to have a permit, go beyond the US waters, etc. Who does that? And again, what's the park service going to do if you go up on Mt. St. Helens and just happen to open the box in a high wind? "Hey, mister! Get that stuff back in that box! Yeah, you!!"

Grins.

shannon said...

I was discussing this sad fact of life (a mother burying her child) with my youngest sister just yesterday. We were talking about how devastating it would be for either of us to lose a child (I have 3 and Meg has 2 children) and we both felt the same way, that losing a child is worse than losing a husband. Now keep in mind that neither of us wishes THAT to happen (well... most of the time we don't :) rather we were just comparing the loss. A husband or a child. We are both in our 30s and our children are quite young still. So perhaps this feeling will change when our children are grown. But for now we felt losing a child was THE worst thing. However I think we may be alone in this thinking because when we discussed this with our friends they thought we were nuts.

doglady said...

My deepest condolences to you and your son and the family of the young man. I cannot imagine what his mother is going through and I firmly believe no mother should have to bury her child. It happens all too often.

Like Anna C, music is a great comfort to me at times like these. If I can fill my heart up with Bach or Beethoven or Mozart, there is no room for grief for a while. And like my buddy, Gillian, being outdoors and spending time with my animals is incredibly soothing. The dog my husband gave me the year before we married refused to leave my side after he died. I was lucky enough to have her for three more years after his death and while I grieved her passing I could not help but smile that she was going to see "Daddy," she loved him so.

I love your church's idea of celebrating the life of the person. The programs for my father's service read "The Going Home Celebration" and I liked that idea. I told my brothers to throw a big barbecue for my funeral with lots of food, drink and music and plenty of dancing.

Carol, I love the poem you posted. I had heard it before but never knew who wrote it. HollyD, what a talented poet you are and what a strong woman to be able to draw that pain out enough to write it down so soon after your loss. p226, I know exactly what you mean about the wrong ways to grieve. And what you posted was amazing and heart wrenching. The drunk driver who killed my husband went on trial for manslaughter, but I refused to attend. My FIL went in my place because I knew I could not be in the same room with that man.

I am so fortunate to have my mother with me and I miss my father every day. I was definitely Daddy's Girl! And I do miss Roger, but he is with me every day in big things and small. I thank God for that. Someone gave me this quote

Know that no matter how deep my sleep and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from being with you.

I truly believe that about those we love.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Doglady, I love that quote. I loved too that your dog stayed with you so closely. My "old lady" Dalmatian did that as well, after my mother's passing. I grieved it so and she was my shadow and my clown. :> Now after three years, my grief on losing my darling dog has eased enough to consider a new puppy. In her honor, I'm going for a clown-y pup - an Irish Water Spaniel. Gorgeous dogs.

Dina, you alluded to losing a loved one as well. My deepest sympathy for your loss. It is sometimes only the fact that other people insist on talking to us and we HAVE to answer that keeps us going. I'm glad you've come on the blogs and grabbed a few wonderful books to keep you hanging in there. We're glad you chose to join us in the Lair! It's a get-through-it kind of place. :>

(And we DO insist on talking to people too. Grins.)

shannon said...

I apologize for my last post. How insensitive of me! I hadn't read any of the comments yet and just posted my comment off the cuff without giving the affect it may have on others much thought. I am sorry. In an attempt to "explain" myself, let me say this. My comment was really about the kind of love a mother (a parent) has for her children. The love I personally have for my children is such an intense kind of love that it is wrought with fear at times. Fear of failing them. Fear of losing them. It is painful to love someone so much. And that is how I love my children. I love my husband in with a different kind of love. A conditional love, based on mutual affection and kindness and respect. It is a comfortable kind of love. A love we both take for granted a lot of the time. But it is not a love wrought with fear and desperation.

I can gather from the comments that many of you have suffered great loss and grief and so I hope I didn't offend any of you. Please chalk it up to an exhausted young mother's momentary lapse of good manners.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Jo, your post made me teary! My son's 22nd birthday is coming up soon and I think I worry more for him now than I did when he was younger. He's out in the cold, cruel world and anything could happen to him. It really started when he began driving and has steadily worsened over the years. And he's grown: I'm supposed to be done! But the reality is, you're never done.

Shannon, my husband and I talked about the child/spouse thing years ago and both agreed that losing a child would be infinitely worse. I mean, in a worst case scenario a spouse could potentially leave you and never return, so losing in some way is always a possibility. I certainly don't mean to downplay the loss of a beloved spouse (apologies to Doglady and anyone else here who has), but the loss of a child is always tragic and unexpected. We (the parents) are supposed to die first! Shannon, I think many women are afraid to say they might grieve more strongly for the loss of a child than a husband. Wouldn't that mean they were bad wives? But I totally get what you and Meg were saying. They are two different types of grief and you didn't give your husband life and grow him inside your body.

As to handling grief, I like very strong, often loud and soulful music. The theme doesn't matter, but being able to sing at the top of my lungs does (often tears are involved). For some reason, that is very cathartic. I'm not much of a crier, but if I can work up a good long cry, that helps too.

I will be devastated when my mother dies. All of you who have been through it have my utmost respect. I think it must evoke the most soul-wrenching despair! I'll be looking for your strong shoulders when, God forbid, it's my turn to mourn that loss.

Joan said...

I lost my father unexpectedly on the day he was to come home from the hospital.

I lost my mother slowly over a year...the last 2 weeks drawn out to an eternity.

Neither was was easy. I used to think that if I'd had my own family that I'd handle the grief better. But when it happened I realized NOTHING makes it more bearable.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Caren, we'll be here for you. :> Loud music and all!

Shannon, I didn't at all take any offense at your comments. As Caren said, I think it does cross most women's minds at some point or another because we also have to plan what we're going to do if it DOES happen. As a parent, we have to think what we'll do if we lose our partner, how we'll cope, how we'll go on for the sake of the children, how we'll manage the house, the mortgage, college expenses...everything. Also, our partners are adult people, who have full wonderful lives - they're with US, after all, what more could they want? Ha! But as you and others say, the child, no matter his or her age, is not there yet so its more wracking. All the might-have-beens are there for a child where they aren't as much for a spouse.

So all that purple prose is to say, don't worry, Shannon! You're among friends here. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Joanie T! It is SO hard to lose a parent, isn't it? After all they've ALWAYS been there. I'm sorry for your losses, no matter when they occurred, no matter how old or young you may be, it hurts.

jo robertson said...

Joanie, I'm so sorry. Having lost both my parents, I understand your grief.

Caren, having four grown sons, I know exactly what you mean! It's that push-pull feeling -- you KNOW you need to let them go, but you're afraid of what the world can do to them.

doglady said...

Not at all Shannon. I do not have children (except the furry kind) but I cannot imagine what the loss of a child would be like. The loss of something you created out of your body and your love for someone else has to be the very worst loss of all. My BFF went through a perfectly normal pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful boy who never drew breath. It has been 15 years and I know there is a part of her that is still missing because of the loss of Thomas. I try to send her Thomas the Train items to make her smile on the anniversary of his death. That is our unspoken way of talking about him. Her husband still cannot.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Shannie!! I get what your saying and that feeling MAY pass as your children (and wonderfully beautiful children they are, I might add) grow older.

Wordsworth said, "the child is father of the man," and I've always felt that meant when the child reverses the parent-child role, it's time the parent can let go.

jo robertson said...

Doglady, I am so sorry for the tragic loss of your husband. What a tender memory that the dog remained so devoted to you.

Shannon, I'm sure no one was offended and understood what you meant. I remember when a friend of yours lost her child, about two or three years of age, I believe? I can't imagine that kind of overwhelming, senseless loss and the attending grief.

Part of it, I'm sure, is the perceived defenseless of our children. In the order of the world, the mother protects her child; the husband protects his wife. We can't imagine that unbalancing.

Dina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Jo, I think you've hit on it, it's the defenselessness, vs. an adult.

Doglady, that is probably one of the kindest and most wonderful things I've heard in a while. You allow your friend to honor not only her child but her grief. Bless you.

Dina, again, I'm so sorry for your loss. And thank goodness for friends, neighbors, blogmates, and even strangers who keep us thinking, moving, and breathing, some days, right?

And see, Shannon? No worries. :>

Dina said...

I decided to delete my last post. It's ok, I just don't want anyone to feel bad.

Jeanne, Thank you for your kind words. :)

shannon said...

You are all so kind. Really. I just hate to be misunderstood so I feel better knowing you understand where I am coming from (or from where I come... whatever, Mom :)

And yes, Jo, you are right. I remember very clearly how long it affected me; the death of that little boy, only a few months older than my first daughter, Corinna (2 yrs old at the time and in the same preschool class)Every time my little toddler ran into our room early in the morning to cuddle and sing songs I thought "How could I go on without this every morning?" It was like that with many, many things. It helped me NOT take her being in my life for granted... at least for awhile. I guess that is what happens in life, right? We gain a great deal of perspective in the wake of someone else's tragedy and then it fades a little. So I appreciate your putting into MUCH more eloquent words, the feelings I was trying to convey. You ladies rock! I am a bit intimidated when posting comments because you are all such good writers. So witty and clever. I DO try to correct my spelling though :)

shannon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan Seyfarth said...

I'm coming in way late on the discussion but I wanted to offer my sympathy on your loss, Jo. When my oldest was just over a year old, my husband's 27 year old cousin was killed in a car wreck. I stood there at the funeral & looked at a wall full of photos of this young man when he was the very age of the baby napping in my arms. And it took my breath away that someday in the future it could be me. It could be my baby snatched away from me. And there would be the wall full of photos that I am taking *right now* with no idea of the tragedy that's waiting for me.

That thought consumed me for days. How can you go ahead with your life once you're aware of the tremendous risk of loving someone as intensely as you love a child?

It faded, that consciousness of risk. It always does. But times like what you're going through now bring it back. I'm so very, very sorry for your loss, Jo, & for that young man's family.

jo robertson said...

Susan, thanks for chiming in after I'd gone to bed. What a beautiful sentiment, one that we mothers all share.

Shannon, thanks for coming back to remind me of that child and those feelings of loss.

Dina, thanks for sharing your experience privately. Sometimes we just need to feel sad and then we move on. Isn't that what we women do?

Thanks to everyone for being vulnerable enough to share your private thoughts and tragedies. We appreciate you!