On Losing a Child: Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare




Mothers sing hymns
of uncharted spaces
where earth meets sky
and butterflies dance
against the tree lined milieu.
Shadows cower
beneath the shimmering
touch of the moon.
The morning paper
reports realities
of murdered children.
Ambulance sirens wail
street lights flicker
against concrete lawns.
Indigo blue simplicities
before first impressions
were overlaid
by memories
of innocence
of loved ones
of lost ones
gone too soon.

I wrote that poem 3 years ago. I was a new mom drunk with euphoria over my 6 month old daughter. When we first brought her home from the hospital I’d spend hours watching her sleep. I’d wake in the middle of the night place my hand on her chest or finger underneath her nose to make sure she was still breathing. I hovered over her like a protective mama bear. It was my innate instinct to do so. I wanted to protect her, after all isn’t that what parents are supposed to do?

Being a parent is simultaneously rewarding and scary. I never thought it was possible to feel so much love, joy, happiness, and fear at the same time. When I heard the news of the Sandy Hook massacre and that a gunman had killed 20 children my heart could not grasp the enormity of the hole left in the hearts and lives of the parents of those murdered children. It is something I struggle with every time I hear of a murdered child. It was what I felt when I first heard the news of the Orlando mass shooting at Pulse nightclub and the same feeling I had when I heard of the young boy snatched by the alligator at the Disney Resort.

I think about Brenda Marquez McCool, the mother who attended Pulse Nightclub with her 21 year old gay son, Isaiah. McCool jumped in front of her son, told him to run, and was killed trying to protect him from the gunman. What parent, if in the same situation, wouldn’t do the same? I think about the Graves Family who on a family vacation had to bear witness to their son get snatched by an alligator and killed. What started out as a fun time has ended in the most unimaginable way possible. These parents must now return home without their son and find a way to continue life without him. They will forever be haunted by this.

Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare turned reality. How does one recover from the loss of a child? It’s safe to say one doesn’t. When a child dies, the grief journey does not end in a week, a month or even a year. I don’t believe it ever ends. I believe it is something these parents must learn to go through and all they can do is try their best to muster up the strength to wake up each morning and make it through that day.

Today I stand in solidarity with every parent who has ever lost a child to a senseless killing or tragedy, or has ever had to bury a child, or every parent who must find a reason to get up every day. Though I do not know the magnitude of your loss, as a mother I can empathize. I am holding each one tight and praying that somehow and some way you find the strength and courage to continue living.

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