I am so tired of being sad. I am annoyed by feelings of guilt when I am not sad. I think I startle others when I laugh and joke, I am past startling myself. There is a form of punishment the grieving undertake for themselves. To feel good, to laugh and be happy, to find pleasure means you don’t love your child.
I know it is ridiculous, but we do it. We tie up our bundle of switches and flog ourselves daily. How dare we be alive when our child is not? Shame on me for eating and drinking, enjoying other’s company, admiring the sunset or sunrise, or taking pleasure in anything anywhere at all.
Regardless of what we inflict on ourselves it does not bring our child back. It makes us cringe and contract when we think about them, because we feel like if we don’t season the memory with some tears, it is not genuine or loving.
I know not everyone out there has lost a child continues to operate this way. There is a subduing of this self-punishment eventually. But many who talk about their loss say that life itself dulls down as if their ability to enjoy has been weighted down, that life is less bright in color and even food tastes bland.
So here is my personal fable:
There was once a little boy who came into the world not by his own volition, but because a man and woman loved each other, married and enjoyed the rites that marriage allows. He was long and thin, bright as a copper penny, sparking with curiosity and intelligence. He grew up. His family doted on him, and soon to his delight he had a sister. She was equally as bright, a bobbing head of curls and a smile that could melt the polar ice. They loved each other – each sometimes leading and sometimes following – learning mutually from each other. Books and music, nature and ideas were the stuff of everyday life. The man and woman basked in the light of their beautiful children.
The children grew as children are wont to do – in stature and in knowledge. The world came at them and they came to know it in many ways, some good, some bad. They wrestled with their parents, with their beliefs, with their contemporaries. They grew up, complete with struggles and sorrows, joys and hope.
One day the girl got sick. The brother who was struggling with the consequences of some foolish decisions stood near by. The parents were flung into fear and despair that something like this could happen in their family. The brother put aside many things he had hoped and planned for to remain near by for his family, for his sister. It took three years for the girl to endure the ordeal of her illness and the whole family suffered.
But the day came when the girl was well. The family looked at what they had survived and knew that they had been bound very close through the process. The man and woman knew they must let the children live their lives, even though they worried about how close they had come to loosing one of their children.
The boy became a man. The girl a woman. Good decisions and bad decisions all played a part in them becoming who they were. The man so in love with adventure and the natural world pursued his interests, as did his sister.
School with degrees, friendships and frustrations happened.
The young man, still as bright as ever, independent and confident made his choices. Both children learned to express their love and appreciation to their parents without reserve and the family basked in the mutual love.
Accidents happen too though. The mother fell one day down the stairs, surviving her fall. The son coming home that weekend took care of her, much the way she had cared for him in years past.
There was no premonition here, but within five months the young man fell too. Unfortunately in his fall his life ended. He was climbing with a friend, out in the beautiful world he so loved and an accident occurred. The sky was painfully blue and the trees green with summer foliage. It was out among those things he saw the last of this world.
The parents and the sister suffered in disbelief and pain, but for him there was no pain. Dulled by grief and burdened with tears they walked through days feeling the incredible void caused by the loss of this beloved person. But days passed as they do and memories of his beautiful life gave them strength and moments of remembered joy.
When he woke up he had no memory of what had happened. Before him was a vast uncharted place for him to explore. Once while in this new place he heard a lyrical sound like the most delicious chiming of a bell but so sweet you could taste it. He found someone and asked “what was that sound? I would love to hear it again!”
“That is the sound of the laughter of those who love you.” he was told. “some do not get to hear it often, because those who have yet to come here don’t understand and spend their days in tears and from that sound we are sheltered. ”