When an old person dies,
the family flies in from hours away.
They gather for a few days
share stories and tears
and that healing laughter
that eases us through such times.
When a parent dies,
the children join together,
tethered to memories and meanings,
each one gleaning from both pain and pleasure,
all taking measure
of what is to be kept in the heart
and what is to be given to the earth.
When a child dies,
even neighbors come
to show their shock,
to help bear the grief
of things which are not
as they should be:
heave with the weight,
numb to the touch
of all but closest friends.
But how, then,
do we ease the pain of the loss
of the un-named child?
Of the unborn?
When those barely formed in the womb
are taken before others even know they live,
how then do we give our grief ?
To the mother
who heard the heart beat
but never felt the kick beneath her ribs?
To the father with such great plans
having never felt the belly swollen
beneath his hands?
There is no gathering of sorrow
on the morrow of the monitor’s
only a strangely solitary sharing
perhaps with one parent or the other,
maybe a sibling or two
or of that one who is closer than a brother
or a sister.
In the midst of this most private loss,
of this un-shared mourning
comes an awareness that in heaven
every child has a name
in a place where all are held close
and every tear will be wiped away.