I met a woman today, one who faces the unthinkable. Our meeting was not a pleasant one. It was filled with soul searing grief. I watched as, in the span of one converation, her facial expressions went from clawing panic over the inevitable to quiet, mournful resignation of what is her life's harsh and brutal reality. My heart lodged in my throat as she spoke of her daughter, saying "It should be me. I should be the one dying but she is going to go before me. I am going to have to bury my daughter."
I had purposefully avoided telling her of my own situation. That I had already buried my daughter. I did not mention how I know that she stands at the brink of a pain so great it defies explanation. This was her story, her grief. It was not the time or the place for my own. I wanted her to know that my sorrow was for her, not for my own situation. So I kept silent and just listened. But as we talked, we learned that we have mutual acquaintances. She knows people that I know. And then she asked where I live. I told her and she asked "do you live in the one with the pool?" When I clarified that we did have a pool but it's gone now. Her face registered clarity and recognition. I knew that she had connected the dots. Suddenly she knew. She touched me as she said "You know. You know what it's like to lose a daughter." All I could do was nod and tell her that I do know. That I am so, so sorry. That no mother should ever have to bury their child.
I am glad that I chose to keep silent. At the same time I am grateful that she discovered the truth. For with the light of recognition in her eyes came an instant connection, an inexplicable bond that is shared only among parents whose children are gone (or in this case "going") too soon. I had no words of wisdom, nothing that could bring comfort to her. I could only embrace her with a promise to pray, knowing that even that seems somehow empty.
Long after we went our own ways, this mother stayed with me in my thoughts. It occurred to me, not for the first time, how very few people that we know personally have experienced child loss. But for those who do know, the bond is immediate. It is a bond that runs deep and connects souls intimately. Each time we see each other, we do not speak of our loss, words are unnecessary. Still........we know. We just KNOW.
CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.