A few nights ago I penned something I had not intended to ever post. It is quite personal and meant for me alone. However, the events in Connecticut of yesterday have caused me to rethink posting this writing. Where so many families lives have been impacted, I would hope to rethink the sanity of feelings we hold back, as parents. Understanding there is fear that the words spoken aloud, or written, might come to pass.
Your voice matters
Sometimes we get roped into watching a soccer game we really don’t want to go to — because it’s our kid playing. For me it also included watching my eldest daughter lead cheers at a football game. Embarrassing her by holding up signs and shouting cheers for her efforts. Watching my youngest play in a recital, and wining a beauty pageant. My son … so many memories … just as each of my others. Each time we do make it, we realize how much richer we were for the experience. No matter where it is, we hope to see the equivalent of a goal, touchdown, championship… something. Our child doing well at becoming stronger in a series of firsts. Even if it is not a win, but a loss of some kind. We are privileged to be there to comfort them.
Often what we miss in preparation, attendance, or the aftermath of success. The light that comes to our children’s eyes because the most important people in their lives were there to see their performance. To bask in the afterglow of a child’s love. Understanding, finally, what is most important. Unfortunately, we don’t have an instruction manual that lets us know what IS that important. Memories of one in a lifetime’s are a poor substitute. And no matter how hard we try to impart that to our own kids growing up, they have to learn for themselves — as we did.
All you want them to know is that YOU will always be there. Even if they don’t want you to be. Or, conduct themselves to have you believe they never did.
So, here it is:
I woke from a dream tonight. Different than so many others. Representing lost moments, more terrifying than anyone could imagine — unless you have been a parent. It has shaken me to the very depths of my soul. In this dream, my daughter died. Torn from my heart further than I ever thought possible. Waking with tears covering my pillow. Crying out vocally with a scream of torment. My face a storm crossed sea of sadness.
Here I sit 3 hours later, inconsolable. Paper and pen in hand. Sitting in the dark. As if words scrawled on a page could reach across time and space to that place we pray heaven is listening. Devoured by grief that one more “I love you” would never be said. Never be heard.
I found no relief that came with knowing this was not real. “Just a dream” does not assuage the iceberg that has become my heart. The gnawing hardness in the pit of my stomach.
It isn’t like when she was a child. The nights I would peak in on her, on each of them, just to make sure they were still breathing. Placing soft kisses on their foreheads as they quietly slept. Sometimes, tiny arms would reach out and pull me closer; “I love you, Daddy.” Until, one day, the child was replaced by a woman of wonderment.
More terrifying still, than any other image, was the knowledge that I would never see the she whose life I had only glimpsed.
In the dark I fumbled for the radio. I wanted no light. Only some form of sound that would take away my pain. Settling my soul’s turmoil. I heard a song by… I don’t know who… I heard, “…I danced with Cinderella.” Perfect. For all I heard, saw in my mind’s reflection of the past, and knew to be true. Of yesterdays, todays and tomorrows I would never know… It was what I had missed. What I still miss. But, this night, I Danced With Cinderella. Even if only in that faulted part of my brain I call my memory. In a world where reality was suspended. Where children never die, never run away, never are lost, grow old, or show you that they don’t need you anymore.
I cannot even tell you which of my daughters it was that died. In my mind it was each of my children… my son included. All combined into one. So complete was this vision that the loss of these special angels permitted no separation of persons. Only the representation of thorns restraining me so completely, I could not breathe.
Love knows no bounds… so it is said. But it does. For some. People cannot take the strain as they fear “truth.” Not facing the simplicity of things that are mistakes. Those that could never destroy the spirit found within that mortal vessel of skin and bones. They try then to find new meaning in their lives. Changing to conceal more lies by abandonment of those in need. Of who they were. And, in thinking of “my” child, I pondered: If “we” were still “all” children, would there ever be abandonment of a single one of them? Would we pretend to help, or actually run to the aid of those children in need? Even though not our own?
In a world containing only children, would we have the courage to dry a child’s tears… before they were lost and gone?
My mind questions what I would have changed the past 10 years… 15 years…
Of all the thoughts that came to me, sorted by importance, it came down to one thing. Each year I placed a letter on the Christmas tree for each of my children. Letting them know I was human. That I made mistakes. That I loved them, and would always love them. Even when the “no matter what” they would do might hurt me so terribly much.
To write such a letter takes something from you. But, I had hoped it also kept me humble. That they would be strong as I knew I would shortly not be there for them. And, if I could change that letter, would I make it much more simple? I would have said; “No matter what happens, never doubt that I love you. Not for a second. Because that love is NOT conditional on you being perfect. Know that my love is FOREVER!”
Even knowing that tonight was just a dream, I will never be the same. For I am a Father. No matter where my children go. No matter who they choose to become. No matter how far from me. I will always pray for their safety. And mourn the loss that has nothing to do with passing.
Even when you can’t hear me… I love you…
This is what I had written. The details do not matter anymore. Not so much. For children every day are lost to madness.
Excused for how they were raised. For perceived imperfections of family life and character. The focus is on those who have committed the violence. Not those of us left behind. Why?
Is it because we fear it might happen to us? Is that why we shun good people who need a friend? Afraid our lives will so be touched? In so doing, we leave them good men and women to grieve in the dark. Alone and afraid. Not understanding why God Almighty would permit such a tragedy to occur… even at Christmas.
They tell us it gets easier as time goes by… But, just maybe, we who are left behind would rather it not be. For in those wee small hours of complete exhaustion the Lord’s Angels may then do their work. If we are lucky, we might just get to watch miracles happen. We might be the miracle that happens.
From one who knows. Hug your children every single day. Be there. No matter someone tells you you need to have more. More doesn’t matter if those you love are gone from you life. Let them hear your prayers. Your song of love. Let no anger remain for the lies that try to hold you down.
For those that have lost, I pray for you.
Let us all pray; “Goodbye my dear child… for a little while. One day, this world will pass away. Father in Heaven if I must wait until that time for us to reunite, please take my child into your arms. Hold them close. Place kisses on their foreheads. Let them feel from you the love we so desperately wish them to feel from we who must wait for joy to return to our lives. Father bless all those in need. Let not their passing be but a quickly passing dream, that life eternal will be our reality. Where we will be together, always. Amen.”