We think of our lives in different ways from ourselves and others like we think of our families in different places but never being too far away from what we may think of as home.
Everyone, on the other hand, acknowledges agreement on the cycle of life we believe in, and that circle we envision shows babies being born to parents who care for and protect their young until they are able to care for themselves, ready to leave to experience life on their own. In this life cycle we envision in our minds, parents will precede their children in death.
Sometimes that picture of a life cycle is cruelly interrupted by a parent’s loss of a child while they, the parents, survive. These parents walk through the valley of the shadow of death as the psalmist wrote in the 23rd Psalm in the Bible and yet I find the Psalm is incomplete for I have witnessed tragic losses that broke the life cycle we expected. Some of those parents who remained were very afraid for their children and themselves. They feared the Evil of Death while they lost their faith in the future.
Many years ago I wrote a poem about women who lose their children – some without warning, some after a short illness, some after an illness that lasted too long – but all out of our expected cycles of life.
Rainy Day Women
Their faces wear grief like blocks of stone.
Their eyes see, and their ears hear,
But they are in a separate place.
The roads they walk are backwards,
And their direction is aimless.
They are the mothers who have lost children.
They weep with no tears.
They mourn without ashes,
Their names are Sorrow and Emptiness.
How can we reach their separate place?
How can we touch the blind and deaf in their grief?
Our words are all we can offer.
Not for a minute, not for an hour, but for as long as they live.
This post is dedicated to Francie Kleckley in memory of her daughter Kathryn.