I remember when my cousin suddenly lost her son. She lived over 400 miles away and I did not know her very well. She was 18 years my elder and I had not seen her in at least 15 years. My mother called to tell me the news. She said, “Margie has lost Danny. He died in his sleep.” Danny was not much younger than me. Being a mother I could only imagine what my cousin was going through. I felt so helpless but I wanted to help in some way. I sent her a book on grief and a card with my condolences. From that day I felt a special bond. I spoke to her occasionally on the phone. I did not bring up the subject of Danny because I did not want to upset her. We just talked about small things.
Many years later, Margie lost another son, this time to cancer. She had three boys, two were now gone. We spoke more often this time. Before she lost her second son Glen, I asked her how she coped with the loss of Danny. Little did we know at the time she would relive the nightmare again. She said to me, “Its like is just happened yesterday.” Her sorrow was fresh every day. It did not loose its grip.
A few months after Glen died, I told her I was attending a candle lighting service and that I would light a candle in memory of Danny and Glen. She was pleased.
The night of the service I spoke with a man from the church my husband and I attended. He had lost his daughter 20 years before. He was there to light a candle for her. He said, “It’s like it just happened yesterday.” Twenty years and his sorrow was still present. He told me that his daughter’s room remained the same as she left it. To a person that has not lost a child, it would appear that he was stuck in grief out of choice. For parents that have experienced the same loss, it is a story of love and honor.
I stood beside my husband on a December night and we lit three candles, one for Danny, one for Glen and one for our son Craig. It was no wonder to me now why I felt a bond with my cousin. Maybe my spirit knew then what was to come, maybe not. Craig was found in his apartment by a close friend. He had been there for days. He was 33 years old and his father and I were over 600 miles away. The nightmare began in 2006 and it has not ended.
I was on the other side at one time, trying to comfort my cousin, not knowing what to say. I know now, and wish I didn’t. I did not want to join this group of people that have to learn how to live without their child. I found that it is not about moving on with your life. It is not about leaving things behind. It is not about letting go. When you loose a child, those things don’t happen. Grieving a child leaves you empty. There are no words, there are no poems, no songs, and no books that will make you feel better. The pain is so intense that you think it will kill you.
I have moments when I can see my child so clear in my head. I can touch him and kiss him and talk to him. Maybe someday, those moments will not hurt like they do now but for now, when they come, every time they come, it’s like it just happened yesterday.
(c) 2012 Vickie VanAntwerp