Thursday, September 15, 2011

Losing a Child

For days I’ve been trying to think of something clever and witty to write about, as I’m hoping to keep up with the blog a little better now that Medium and Large are at school all day.  I’m trying to get Small on a regular nap schedule – mostly because I’m anal and can’t handle it when I don’t have a schedule or a plan.  I hope to be able to write more frequently while he’s napping. 

I could write about Tuesday when we overslept until 6:58, but I still managed to get the boys up to the bus stop by 7:12.  Or I could write about purging my closet of clothes I haven’t worn in years, but which have moved from our townhouse, to Manhattan, to our temporary housing, and finally stopping here in our home.  Or I could put a humorous spin on trying to find a nerdy teenager with no social life so that I can have a babysitter at my beck and call.

The problem is that I keep thinking about Anna Donaldson and her family:

The Donaldson Family, of Vienna, VA lost their 12-year-old son, Jack, in the floods we had last week.

I first heard this story from my former “boss” at JMU, who was a sorority sister to Anna Donaldson.  Then I discovered that, in the it’s-a-small-world department, my across-the-street neighbor was also a sorority sister.  My connection to this woman is six-degrees-of-Kevin-Baconish, but still, her story was brought to my awareness more than once.  Then this morning, a high school friend posted a link to Anna's blog, An Inch of Gray.  I just can’t keep quiet anymore.  So this one’s not funny.

For all the b*tching I sometimes do about mothers who don’t support each other, make other mothers feel bad about their parenting, or try to one-up each other, I must admit that in a time of tragedy, there is a bond between mothers that is almost spiritual.  And I don’t mean spiritual in the religious sense. 

I mean I hope that the heartbreak and grief I feel for this woman whom I have never met will help ease some of her burden, because it pains me to think of her suffering “alone.” 

I know she has a family, and perhaps it seems insensitive for me to imply that NO ONE, not even her husband, feels the grief as tangibly as she does.  I have a notion that collectively, mothers everywhere who are hearing her story are shouldering a bit of her heartbreak. 

When I lost my mother, I remember thinking that I truly understood where the term "broken-hearted" originated.  I literally felt an ache in my heart - a physical pain.  It struck me as surreal that people still went to the grocery store, picked up their mail, filled their cars with gas when my world had fallen apart.  I’ve always said that losing my mother has been the greatest loss of my life, and I am the first to admit that I had a difficult time dealing with my grief.  But here’s the thing: children expect to lose their parents at some point.  Hopefully it won’t be until the parent has lived a full life, but we all accept mortality as the final chapter of life. 

Parents are not emotionally equipped to lose a child.  That’s not how it’s supposed to happen.  

Ten years ago, my girlfriend, The Mormon, lost a child.  Hubby and I hadn’t started our family yet, so while I grieved with my friend, I grieved with her as a friend, not as a mother.  I hurt because my friend was hurting.  It wasn’t until I had Large that I truly understood that having a child is having a part of you live outside your body.  Your child is an appendage that’s not physically attached.  (Sometimes I feel like my kids are the middle finger . . . )

As diligent followers of this blog (hint, hint) you know that I don’t discuss politics or religion.  I believe what I believe, and I don’t need to rationalize it to anyone.  No matter what you believe (or don’t) my simple request is this: pause for just a moment today and send good “Mommy” vibes to Anna Donaldson.  Motherhood is a sorority of its own, and today our Sister needs us. 

*Anna's friend Glennon writes a blog called Momastery.  Her most recent entry, simply called "Anna," is a powerful post in which she reminds us that one doesn't stop being a Mother when your child leaves the earth.

Medium, Small, Large
And finally, my boys.  I LOVE them with every ounce of my being.  They drive me absoultely insane sometimes, but I am thankful every day for their sweet smiles.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful Jennifer! I'm sending supportive and loving vibes Anna's way!


Be nice, kids.