Some things are only learned through experience. As vividly as imagination attempts to create images and emotions, it is unable to reach the width and depth of reality. There is no way to prepare for the death of your child.
Every mother has feared first a miscarriage, then SIDS, illness, cancer, car crashes, drug overdoses, war, and on and on as her child grows. There is a never-ending stream of terrors that threaten our children, we are always alert and subtly fearful.
We tell ourselves that it is unlikely, improbable, our fears are unrealistic and could never be realized, that we are somehow immune or special or blessed. Children should outlive their parents, it is the natural order.
The truth is that there are mothers with empty arms and broken hearts, mothers with an emptiness inside that can never be filled.
There are mothers who grieve every day for the rest of their lives for the child that is gone.
Pain, grief, loss, and emptiness become the window through which the world is viewed from then on. Life, any life, all life, is seen in a new light that reveals not only how precious it is, but how fragile as well. We are forever changed,
In time, we rise from the ashes of a shattered life. The nightmare of the loss becomes a part of our consciousness, and we are able to embrace the pain, since it is all that keeps us connected to our beloved child.
The path is narrow and rocky, difficult and lonely, but will ultimately lead us to a place of gentle strength, quiet faith, and a depth of character, born of the darkest dispair, that would never have emerged otherwise.
We must follow the path. We are obliged to smile in spite of the pain, to continue living, working, cleaning, cooking; in spite of feeling immobile. We must continue to decorate the Christmas tree, bake birthday cakes, and have baby showers for smiling friends who have no idea that there is a desperate howl inside of us that would never stop if it were allowed to begin.
But we know... and we know each other. This is a sorority we never asked to join, but we are bound to each other by our losses. We are there for each other, and for those that find themselves in our midst through the death of a child. We are all different, and our experiences have been different, but we share the same emotions and pain. We are sisters.
We carry a torch that is a living memorial to our children. They live on in us as we walk in the strength, and faith, and the depth of our character that continues to grow as we follow the path that leads from darkness to light. They live on as we reach out to each other to simply say "I know".
This is our Legacy.