All across America everyday a mother screams, a child dies. In 2011, the last national statistic reported by the National Vital Statistic Reports recorded 106,778 deaths of individuals under the age of 34 years. That breaks down to 292 children every day. Every day over 500 parents become grieving parents. Two million of us are walking around in this country alone. Parents both good and bad, both rich and poor, Christian and unbelieving. Death doesn’t discriminate when it comes to kids.
Mothers fall down and pound their fists into the ground while fathers raise their fists in defiance to a God they prayed to or forgot. They are lost, they are angry. A certain malaise takes over. Life has been stolen from them. They only want their child.
Their own life is unimportant, they finally understand unconditional love and would give anything for but a moment, a word, for a call that yells out, “Dad, hey Dad.” They may see him, they may hear her playing in her room. But as the door opens, the bed, still untouched when she got out of it two years ago, never to return, goes unmade. The toys in the corner, the cars mixed with army men and super heroes strewn across the floor are quiet. No one there.
The only change is the dust, coving and clinging. That thin barrier that separates the living from the dead. So thin, so impenetrable. It might as well be concrete, it separates the loving from the loved and encapsulates them, transporting them to another world, maybe, but separates them for a lifetime of suffering.
This is a look at those people, the unfortunate few, the ones the one’s we want to help with platitudes like, “You’ll have more,” or “You are the one because only you can handle this,” and “At least you have more kids.”
Parents who are still parents but like an amputation, the pain of the phantom limb or in this case the child gone persists. Some days, a dull ache, sometimes an acute pain. Some days they run on prosthetics like Chariots of Fire but go home to crumple in the corner with yesterday’s overalls and sweatshirts that were once his.
They act the fool at the New Year’s party but drift to the bathroom when the crying jag supersedes the giddiness. Why is it that when they have an ounce of normalcy they are hit by a pound of grief? And when they are filled with joy on a mountain, they are filled with tears to fill a valley? How can it be that a heart with a hole still beats?
And a brain now filled with only memories still manages to buy milk at the Super, pays the credit card, and fills the gas tank when it gets below a quarter. When their dog understands more than the minister, a stranger’s hug breathes life back into a depleted soul more than any surgeon ever could, and a childhood friend of their son touches them with a simple sticker that speaks to them more than any psychotherapist ever could?
Grief doesn’t just interrupt. It just doesn’t push pause. It turns everything inside out. Everything is upside down; Right is wrong, and wrong doesn’t matter. Minutes are hours, days are months, years are unthinkable. Weary eyes shut but the sting of tears in sunlight continues to pain. Water springs from nowhere and washes out and over the face, evaporating to some cosmic place only to be dispensed at the next inopportune time.
Embarrassed no more by a day’s growth, eyes red, hair mused. Carved out inside, the emptiness within accentuates the emptiness that fills a world pretending the physical lasts forever; just tuck here, take this, run so far, eat your vegetables, pray to God, don’t take foolish chances and you will be happy, your days long, and your children full.
Old men make you mad because they got to live but young kids bring you hope because the get to live. No longer jealous of the man with too many horses, only skeptical of a life falsely examined. While others rail against politics your polemics rail against principalities. It’s the cost of a deep life. A deep life comes only by a deep cut.
After reading today’s blog you are either depressed or like listening to a good blues record, you feel a release of emotion and feel a bit depleted. Still tired, still no direct answer but still somehow someone has touched your pain. Someone else knows. I get it. I care.
So today, this week, stay alive. Stay alive. That’s it. Maybe a child will walk into your path, maybe an old person will wrinkle a smile and some how from somewhere far from where you are at right now, you’ll feel a breeze. Some where, somehow, he or she wanted you to feel it.