Tuesday, August 25, 2015


If you had told me seven years ago that I would survive the events of the following week, I would have told you that I would not.

Which is true, in some ways.  That girl is gone.  She disappeared late one night in Chicago, hours before she even knew it.

Because our minds no longer work as they did before, it took me seven years ~ seven! ~ to register the proximity of the coming and going days of the children of the four women, me included, who met online soon after our children died, and shared much of those first tender years together.  Two birthdays in the past couple of weeks.  Another loss anniversary in the next few days.  And then, the day Josh was born, followed by the day he died.  I am inundated ~ not unhappily ~ by words and pictures from heroic women, women still moving forward.  Seven and eight years later.

I could not tell you how we do that.

It seems to me that at seven years, I might have words of wisdom to share. 

I am grateful, so grateful, to be his mother. 

I am not grateful that he is unable to live out his life, that the world does not enjoy his many gifts, and that I no longer share his company.   I am, by turn and all at once, horrified, bereft, angered, heartbroken, baffled, lost.
I can hardly stand it, actually.  Perhaps that is the wisdom I have to offer: You wouldn't believe how far you can continue to walk when you can't stand it.  How brave you can be.
One of my FB friends, who lost her son to suicide only two years ago, posted this song last year.  A vampire wedding song?  There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio . . .   .  A thousand years, and a thousand more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Pretty Pictures

Over the past several months, I've been re-posting a lot of nature and scenic photos on Facebook.  A lot of them come from the Department of the Interior; others, from various photographers focused on Ohio (my home state), the Blue Ridge Mountains (North Carolina being my pretend home state), northern Florida (the other one), the National Park Service . . .  you get the idea. 
Sometimes friends thank me for re-posting those beautiful images.  I suppose that's what it looks like I'm doing: posting pretty pictures.  Or humorous or moving or unusual ones.
But what I am really doing is FIGHTING BACK.
I have no idea how one heals from the suicide of a child.  But it occurred to me, last winter or so, that one possibility might be to recover some small portion of my enthusiasm for the beauty of this universe.  When a child dies, so does pretty much everything else.  But small glimmers of life eventually reappear here and there, and for me, they take the form and shape of nature.
Every time you see one of those posts, you are seeing me say: There is life beyond death.
Some time after I started collecting these photographs, I came across an article about Amherst College psychology professor Catherine Sanderson, who apparently does a lot of public speaking (including a famous TED Talk) on the topic of happiness.   More explicitly, on what people think makes them happy and what, in contrast, actually does.  Nature is high on her list of what makes us happy.
I don't know what I think about happiness, other than that it can be hard to come by.  But I'm not surprised by Catherine Sanderson's conclusion about nature.
Image: from the Department of the Interior FB page ~ a RWB hitches a ride on a RTH

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Prayer with the Mothers

One outcome of loss: it does, eventually, create in one a sense of solidarity with others who have experienced something similar.
I'm not much for praying for specific outcomes ~ but I do pray for healing, whatever that might mean.
And so I pray with the mothers.
The mothers whose children are dying, or have died.
The mothers whose children are starving.
The mothers whose children are refugees.
The mothers whose children are immigrants.
The mothers whose children will soon be motherless.
The mothers whose children are soldiers.
The mothers whose children are victims of terrorists.
The mothers whose children are terrorists.
The mothers whose children walk out into a dangerous world every day.
The mothers whose children are being raised by other mothers.
The mothers who leave abusive relationships with their precious children and little else.
The mothers whose child-daughters are forced into early marriages.
I support, in a very small way, an organization called ASCEND, which is helping a small group of young Afghan women climb mountains.  I pray with their mothers, who are watching their daughters take steps that may be dangerous in many ways beyond the physical.
I live in a world in which most mothers worry about which pre-school or which soccer team, which wedding caterer or which dress.  Because of my son's death and thanks to the internet, I know many mothers who have lost children ~ but not among my daily life friends.  But also because of our loss, I have a much better understanding than I did of what motherhood is for perhaps the majority of mothers in this world.
I don't go into this kind of detail often.  But at least once every day, I simply pray:
The mothers.