It was bound to happen, and it did so at three a.m. His scream was muffled, thus barely arousing me. Half asleep, Michael and I caressed Calvin as he seized, then I crawled in with our boy and held him, where I could hear and feel his pounding heartbeat. Our heads rested together on a soft cotton pillowcase that belonged to our dear friend who took his own life last summer, and whose birthday it is today. Somehow, it felt safe and right putting cheek to fabric that in sleep used to touch his well-missed face.

During Calvin's last spate of seizures, I grieved. In my mourning, I told someone that when I see Calvin suffer miseries such as seizures and night terrors, I am more accepting than usual of the real chance he might not live out his childhood years; no one wants to see their child suffer repeatedly. She said his death would be a blessing. She used that word. Others have, too. Rather than admonish her, I simply disagreed. And though her words stung, and though they were ignorant, I knew what she was trying to say and I knew they came from a place of love.

Yesterday, I wrote to an acquaintance who lost his grown son a few years ago:

your loss of your son resonates with me on some level. i think of that poem, "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night," by walt whitman, which i post on my blog most memorial days. in it, he speaks so tenderly of his "boy of responding kisses." with our sons, i believe we both have experienced losses of our own kind. and though we feel grief over those losses, maybe we have gone on to have relationships with them in unexpected, deep and meaningful ways—yours perhaps developing even after his death, and mine with a non-verbal, severely disabled one who i can never truly know or understand. of course, nothing can replace who or what they might have gone on to be, but somehow, despite that, perhaps we still have profound connections with them.

Still, I can say unequivocally that the loss of a child is no blessing.

A blessing is a seizure-free child. A blessing would be a planet without hunger, poverty, bigotry or disease. A blessing would be a world where men don't rape and abuse girls and women—at home, behind dumpsters on college campuses, as a tactic of war. A blessing would be a world where spirituality, brotherhood, love, acceptance and connectedness replaces religious dogma, its fears, its wars, its patriarchies, its contempt and conceit, its divisions of all the world's people. Blessings are in birdsongs and stars. A blessing is a cleansing rain. A blessing is a break in the clouds. A blessing is a good night's sleep, a healthy child, a loving husband. A blessing would be a hate-free world. A blessing is an old friend connecting again, enough food on the table, a soft pillowcase, a warm bed. A blessing is a breeze coming off open ocean. A blessing is freedom, justice, peace, equality of people, a place without greed, deceit and exploitation. Blessings are cherished memories of loved ones who've passed away. A blessing is a son who can verbalize what is hurting him. A blessing is a child who can run and play.

A blessing is kissing and holding your child closely, as if it were their first or last day.

No comments:

Post a Comment