The Family

The Family

Monday, December 17, 2012

All the Dear Children

The words stuck in my throat.

When we got to the third verse of "Away in a Manager" yesterday I couldn't sing "Bless all the dear children in thy tender care..."

A friend texted me this morning to tell me she cried when she dropped her son off at kindergarten.

As I hung a butterfly drawing on Mattie's door earlier today it reminded me of the art work hanging on another friend's refrigerator a few years ago. It belonged to her three-year-old daughter that had just died. I had gone to her home with a group of high school friends the night before she buried her only child.

I left her house nauseated, brokenhearted and wondering how she was going to live with the silence. The silence of a child not being at home is not like the silence of him playing quietly in his room or her nestled snuggly in bed. Those types of silence are welcoming and peaceful. It's the eerie silence when a child that dwells there is not at home that I've never been able to get used to.

How does a parent greet that silence day in and day out once their worst fear has become a reality?

It happened to my aunt and uncle many years ago when their oldest child, a boy, died of leukemia at the age of five. That's the age Jack is now.

It makes me shudder.

I never knew my cousin Chris because he died before I was born, but I ache to think about how his parents must still feel.

It happened to Matt's aunt and uncle when their precious baby's heart gave out on her when she was about 6 months old.

My own heart has pondered so much of this for almost three years, ever since that three-year-old girl we prayed so hard for seemed like she had turned the corner for the better, only to die suddenly of a brain aneurysm. I feel no closer to understanding it today as I did that bitterly cold February night when I listened with tears streaming down my face as that little girl's grandfather told me how he would have sung "You Are My Sunshine" to her over and over had he known it would have been the last time he would get to push her in a swing and sing to her.

So many of us can't bring ourselves to contemplate the thought of life without our children because it is so deeply terrifying. As hard as the thought of it is, the reality of it is surely worse.

There are a lot of people hurting this holiday season. Some have felt the loss for years, while others are only in the beginnings of the agony.

I'm not sure anyone will be able to forget that this Christmas.

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