“I saw the article in the newspaper last year about your daughter, Lauren, dying”, she said. “Oh, my friend, I finally get a chance to hug you!!!” …The flood gates opened in the narrow hallway of our gym that morning, and I balled like a baby craving milk.
Even though she’s dead, my daughter lives on in my mind, my memories, my heart. I SO longed to hear her name!
…Please know that you won’t offend, embarrass, or make me any more sad if you say her name. I may cry, yes, and that’s because I’m thankful for the opportunity to having gratitude for having shared love with someone who mattered so very nuch to me ~ and that, that is a good thing!
“I’ll never forget her ~ and I don’t WANT to, either!”
My old friend, the mom of my daughter’s childhood friend that I hadn’t seen since they were in second grade together, had said her name: “Lauren”. I hadn’t heard her name in days.
I had said it aloud when getting ready for work. I had written it in my ‘thoughts du jour’. I had yearned to write about her infectious laugh. I could scribble the likeness of her signature like knowing for 25 years the placement of every freckle on her body. …”LAUREN.”
No one had said her name aloud to me in days…. It was lovely and heartwrenching, saddening and beautiful. The sound of her name stirred a pot of emotions deep within my soul. “I’ll never forget her ~ and I don’t WANT to, either!”
While caring for me in the aftermath of the loss of my elder child, old friends and new friends, family and co-workers sometimes don’t, or won’t, say her name. I KNOW that they care. I KNOW that they don’t know what to say.
“There aren’t words.” …The truest words in my world.
Each parent will grieve their dead child differently. It will be a journey unto himself, even when walking with others. It will be different than every other parent. Heck, it will likely be different even for himself 20 seconds from now.
What we do share is a love for our little one, regardless of how little they were. We know they were never perfect, yet we share a thankfulness for having them in our lives, whether for a solitary moment or many years of memory making. We share a connection, and now a sadness, a longing. We covet our history of stories of a life smothered short, sometimes feeling eager to share and sometimes holding these stories closer to our hearts.
And, as challenging as it can be in some moments, I also believe that we ultimately share a gratitude for their lives having been placed on our path ~ even in the midst of heart-wrenching, tortuous, and even sometimes gloriously memorable moments. I’ve heard other parents question aloud if it was “worth it” ~ and oh, how I hope they come to a place that they appreciate the time they had even in the midst of the darkness… “There’s nothing left except all the time in the world to think about it.” (- Shawshank Redemption)
Lauren wasn’t perfect; our relationship wasn’t perfect. Thoughts of my precious girl now don’t occupy every single second (most days), and I’m choosing to be ever so thankful when they do. “I’ll never forget her, and I don’t WANT to, either!” In this, MY story, I can and want to talk, laugh, fantasize and cry. I’m not afraid my tears, and I hope you won’t be afraid to hug me through my tears, whether of joy or of sadness. Frankly, this isn’t about you; it’s about how parents grieve similarly or differently. This is my story. So thank you, friends. …And I am thankful when you say her name ~ Even though she’s dead, she lives on in me…..
Lauren mattered to me. LAUREN.