Sunday, October 19, 2008

Losing a Child

It's been a year for Claire Prosser.

One minute I had a cheerful, talkative 14-year-old son called Tom, the next he was dead, from an undiagnosed heart condition.

I had a younger sister who died as a baby of a respiratory infection when I was two. I don't have any memory of her, but my parents have pictures of us together, in particular a formal photograph (black and white, to date myself) of us side-by-side. A relative once spoke of how hard her death hit my maternal grandfather. I've always known about her, but I was an adult before I found out how she had died. I'm sure my parents would have told me sooner had I inquired, but it just didn't seem prudent to ask.

When my first wife and I were expecting our daughter, my wife unknowingly picked out for her the same name as my sister. I naturally consulted my parents, who approved. So far the only slight downside has been my daughter needing to get used to seeing a gravestone with her name on it when we visit the cemetery, where my sister is buried not far from that same grandfather, who unfortunately never got to see my daughter.

Shortly before I met my current wife she lost a son to cancer at 23. Unlike my sister, his had been a long fight, so it wasn't unexpected. My wife still occasionally speaks as if he's alive, and like the lady in the article she says she has "three children, one of whom passed away a few years ago." Many people in the area knew and still remember him fondly.

I'm convinced that losing a child is one of those things from which you never really recover; you just go on and with time you heal as best you can.

No comments: