What hurts more? To lose a child when they are a mere days old, a few years old or as an adult? As a younger child, do you mourn the memories that have yet to be made or as an adult, do you mourn the memories that have been made?
I have had parents approach me and tell me that they understand my pain. They go on to explain how they lost a child right after they were born. Some say that due to modern technology and genetic testing, they were aware of the harsh reality. As if some cruel joke, they had to go through the entire pregnancy dreading the grim outcome. Where once they were embracing this wonderful and magical gift from God, they were thrust into a land of misery and despair before they were even able to hold their child. Others have had the blissful, beautiful moments of parenthood when unexpectedly and unannounced, death has visited their once peaceful and innocent lives. They disclose the painfully memory of walking over to pick up their newborn only to feel a cold lifeless body. Or the parent that turned their back for a second to grab a towel, and when they returned their child was underwater. I have heard about family bike rides that have lead to the unthinkable and watching their child be dragged off by a car. And the teenage driver that became distracted by the dinging of a cell phone and never made it home. Which death hurts more, I wonder?
When I read the newspaper, I always read the obituaries. I used to scan the last names to see if anyone looked familiar, followed by glancing at the ages of the deceased. Now, I look at the ages first. I scan to see if the person was close to my son’s age. I can’t explain why. Maybe I want to feel like I am not alone. I want to know that I wasn’t targeted and treated unfairly or unjust. It sounds horrible, I know, but when I see that someone close to my son’s age has passed, I feel some sort of relief. Just putting these thoughts to paper make me feel ashamed. Am I cruel to want to have this horrific event in common with another human being? I think abut their parents and the ugliness and pain they are trying to maneuver through. I wonder how they found out of their child’s untimely death. Did they know it was an unavoidable event or were they slapped in the face with this brutal reality of pain so hard that the scar will always be visible? At what age is the hurt not as profound or intense? Is there even a distinction? I think not…
Death is ugly…the death of a child is a ferocious beast.