Saturday, February 5, 2011


So there was this day last week when it had snowed all night and I was out shoveling the drive.  And a man walked by in the street, and then he turned around and came back and introduced himself.

I looked at him blankly, my short-term memory apparently a permanent casualty of Josh's death.

And so he elaborated.  He and his wife are members of my church and knew me by sight and some email exchanges. They lost a young adult son to cancer a few months before Josh died. 

Gradually I put the pieces together, and we talked for a minute about our lives now, and our hopes for our surviving children.  And then he went on down the hill to the university.

That afternoon I went to the art exhibit I've described below.  And there was a man there whom I knew by name, although we had never met.

In a lull after the artist spoke, I pulled him aside and said quietly, "You don't know who I am but I know who you are."  His teen-aged son died in an accident a year after our son died, and it was all over the papers, and we know people in common.

It turned out that he had heard of me, and we talked for a minute about our lives now and about trying to move forward.  And he said that one of the few things that has helped is discovering that there are others of us.  I told him about the man who had stopped in  my driveway this morning, and he said, "And now you've stopped me here."

I wonder what we would have thought of one another, the three of us, had we met three years ago.  As it is now,  we are connected by an invisible bond, the experience we share as the parents of boys who . . .  who what? I wonder.  Who are no longer here.


  1. So hard-- recognizing the gifts that spring out of the unacceptable losses. I'm glad you've all met one another and shared your experiences together.

  2. I preached and presided at a church today that celebrated, yesterday, the life of a boy who died suddenly at 4.5 y/o. In a few days I will send my friend, the rector, a link to your blog just in case it would be helpful to the parents of this boy to find consolation in the company of others who share the same life sorrow. No one wants this shared sorrow to become a gift to others, but it is.

  3. Terri: So impossibly hard. When my children were young and changing so rapidly, I would often think (thinking of my mother and brother: I could have missed this, if we hadn't all survived this long. A lifetime of sadness over hoped-for experience for parents of such young children who die.

  4. The grief community is one of the best patchwork quilts of comfort. I am certain both of those fathers are grateful for the encounters, to see another parent surviving and making a way through the rubble of such deep loss. We all need each other, and I am glad you are one to step forward with that open hand.