Uvalde, Texas - A Reflection Following Child Loss - 05/25/2022
I see you. I see you looking so sad, wondering just how those other parents must feel, yet knowing on some level what it means to not hold your own child in your arms at night. I see you turn on the news, ponder your entire existence, and then turn it back off- still unsure just what you are supposed to do with the information. I see your numbness- it is written all over your face.
I see you. I see you attempting to take that relaxing bath only to be haunted by the notion you never got to take one with me. I see you shedding tears for those mommies and daddies that will never be able to give their own child another bath. I see you sobbing at the thought that those parents never knew their last bath was their final bath. The same way you look back at your solo dinner after dropping me off with Aunt April that night, thinking you would be holding my smiling face in two days- never aware it was the very last time you would see me alive. I see you pull yourself out of the tub, and wrap yourself in that old green towel that was always your favorite- sobbing even harder that you don’t get to scoop me up after bath time in my favorite bird towel- you imagine it would be a bird too right mommy?
I see you. I see you scrolling through social media, assigning names and faces, reading tales of parents still waiting for news about the whereabouts of their precious children. Though you want to be hopeful, you recall all the fleeting thoughts you had in the moments you found out I was in fact on the way to the hospital. I see you revisiting the moment you heard I wasn’t breathing and how you just knew that I was gone from this earth. I see you struggling with a rush of emotions that allows you to relate to these parents in Uvalde- yet at the same time recognizing that this is nothing like my departure. Child loss is different for everyone. You know that. I know that. My friends know that.
I see you writing in your journal, discussing my age in comparison to some of these children. I know you feel guilty- never of course grateful in any way for my departure, but grateful you do not have to worry about my existence in your current world. Please don’t feel guilty. I understand that concept. I’m sorry I put it like that but let’s call it what it is. Never apologize for those feelings. Ever. That is the essence of what allows you to pull yourself out of bed every morning. That makes me happy- never upset with you mommy.
You always say that the one notion that continues to re-surface and keeps you going day after day is the idea that I never knew cruelty, and that I only knew happiness. You tell your friends, your acquaintances, and your audience that my world was innocent and that I never knew hate, anger, or greed. It always makes me smile. It makes me proud to know that my mother can find positivity in a tragic, and traumatic experience. It speaks volumes for your strength- even when you don’t feel strong at all. Yet, I see you now. I see you gripping the blanket, your eyes full of tears thinking about how the very notion that got you to this point is exactly opposite of what these mothers and fathers can say about their children. That isn’t your fault.
It isn’t your fault that you found a way that allows you to grieve in the best way you know how, and that this may not be their way of grieving. Do not feel bad that this isn’t an option for them. They will find their own way mommy. It isn’t your fault that you have had almost seven years to process my death while some of these parents have had seven hours. It isn’t your fault that you have found a way to help others process their emotions and move on with there life while others have battled their feelings for years, feeling stuck in the same place day after day. It isn’t your fault that people don’t understand that the loss of one child is not replaced by the presence of another. None of this is your fault.
I can’t imagine how you are feeling mommy. To try seems daunting, and most likely misunderstood. For this reason, I feel terrible asking for your help- but I need something from you. You know what I need from you mommy? I need you to keep your spirit strong. I need you to use your experience to help these parents, brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas, and everyone in between. Write that letter, make that phone call, provide the existing resources to those needing them during this time. Advocate in all the ways you know how. Tell people what you needed during the darkest time of your life so that you may help others. Remember when you didn’t want to shower let alone go grocery shopping? Tell people that! Go to your child loss community, your social media pages, and your friends. Tell them.
I will get the other end. I will help those children adjust to their new lives- whatever those may be. I know some may have deep roots in faith- yet for others, faith may be nonexistent. Some may be playing with their old pets in the traditional sense of heaven while others may be spiritually moving through a different realm. I just want you to know that I will be here. I will help them. They too will be cheering their parents on just like I cheer you on. Every. Single. Day.
Most importantly when you start to question your reality- please don’t. Please know that those two months with you were beyond amazing- I only knew love, compassion, and warmth. I promise. Please don’t let the events of the world cause you to become jaded or cynical or believe that the empire you have built to survive is any less sacred. It is your safe haven- please keep it for yourself. We need more people like you in this world mommy.
Gotta go. I have work to do!
I too carry your heart with me,