When a child dies – no matter how young or old – if the parent or parents are still living, the universal response is: How will they get through it? And many people name it as their worst nightmare.
As a relatively new mother – my first child was about two – I was haunted by the fear that I would lose him through death, and I’m sure virtually every parent experiences that same dread in some form. It’s been over three decades since I wrote this piece, but I’m thinking that I might have known people at the time who had suffered the death of a child. Clearly, it was on my mind and in my heart. And even though my sons are grown, I’m still never free from that fear.
See what you think, and please share your own thoughts and responses.
The dark angel swoops here and there, snatches the small ones, touches the houses with horror, and leaves them forever in darkness, alone with grief, a gaping hole that can never be filled.
Sometimes we hear her footsteps from far away, know she’s coming from a distance, slowly, but unswervingly. And all we can do is wait and listen to the footsteps and grab hold to the edge of sanity.
Sometimes we have no warning. She bursts through the door without knocking, and suddenly we stand in the black shadow of her enormous wings. She reaches down, grabs our tiny one and leaves us gasping in the hot rush of her fury.
The big question, asked of the ceiling in the dark of the night, asked of the scene through the window, asked of the self in the middle of a crowd, is “Why?” And along with that “why” is: How could God allow it? And how to reconcile this hole in the middle of the chest with a loving God? Some do, some do not – cannot.
I pray that God will save me from this plague. Please, I beg, please, not on this house.
First published in Above the Thunder: A collection of personal experiences from Concern Counts, 1982
Concern Counts was a project of the Kansas City (MO) Association for Mental Health.