Last week I attended a memorial service for a five month old girl who died of SIDS.
What a nightmare. It's the worst thing I can imagine happening to a parent. I remember how distraught I was last year when the nodule was found on my lung. There were many tears shed over the possibility of my babies losing their mommy. But to have the opposite happen is just beyond comprehension. When I learned of this little one's death I was stunned and kind of pondered it in my head. When the death notice was published, including a photo of a sweet baby with her mama, I felt like someone had crushed me and sucked the air out of me. Imagining her parents' grief, I was really depressed all that day. All I kept thinking of was that this couldn't be true; could she somehow not be dead? I've talked with other friends this week who felt the same way.
The service itself was very nice; the minister talked about how there are no answers, no reasons. She read part of WH Auden's poem Funeral Blues, which you may remember being read in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral:
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
After she read it I thought to myself, the last line is not true. Love does last forever, even if the one we love is no longer with us. That was where the minister was headed as she said the same thing. The baby's daddy was among those who spoke and he echoed the minister's sentiments. There is no answer, no why, how, what, who. It just is.
And it is so unfair. I know how much this baby was desired by her parents, how dearly she was cherished and how she was prayed for and loved. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I am still crying for her and her family.
In her memorial service program some lines from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran were quoted:
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's
longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong
not to you.
You may give them your love but not your
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of
tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not
even in your dreams.
The family suggested memorial gifts to First Candle/SIDS Alliance.
Since this happened I've been hugging and kissing my girls even more, and trying to really pay attention to them, to soak in every moment with them. It sounds terribly corny, like something any of us would say in response to a senseless death of a child. But as I work on me, and as I try to become a better parent each day, I let more of the mundane issues of the day roll off me and just enjoy the bits of happiness that are in my path. I certainly still lose focus at times but I keep coming back to awareness.