I have this theory. It’s not very scientific, and there’s no way to test it, not that I’d want to. It’s just this suspicion that the older your child is when s/he dies, the harder it is. Losing Alex at two months is the single worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I lament missing all of his first words, first steps, first chuckles. As much as I mourn the absence of those events, I am a little grateful that I don’t have those memories haunting me. I don’t hear his sweet laughter when I go to sleep, and I don’t wake up in the night dreaming of him yelling, “Mommy!”
This may be a dumb theory, and just some ridiculous idea that I concocted to make myself feel better about losing Alex. But, if it is true, there are dozens of families in Connecticut that are experiencing a sadness I can’t even imagine.
Losing a child at the age of six to such a tragic and terrifying event. I can scarcely articulate how sad it makes me. How much I cry for those families, and how much I pray for their comfort. I don’t know if the pain grows exponentially, or if it doubles for each extra day you got to know your child? I think about the families that have Christmas trees stuffed with present underneath, and how it must be a terrible reminder of how much they have lost.
After Alex died, I had a whole room of stuff I just didn’t know what to do with. I had diapers, wipes, bottles, onesies, a mountain of memories… keepsakes of a child I had lost.
At the age of six, there’s so much more! There are Scooby Doo undies still in the dryer, favorite yogurt drinks in the fridge and smelly socks from football practice shoved under the seat. There are pictures on your iPhone he took, maybe his Ranger Rick magazine in the mailbox, and birthday invitations on the counter. I can only imagine how much worse it can get.
I don’t mean to dwell on these things. It’s just that now whenever I hear about someone in the news who has lost a child, my heart goes out to them. I think about the hard journey of healing in front of them, and I hope that they have the faith, family and friends they need to get through it. I pray for their safe passage to a place of peace, and I shed tears for their sadness. I wish I could do more, but I just think about how heavy their hearts must be… it’s something that fills me with a silent sadness that only they can understand.
Then I think about the loss of their child, and how does that compare to the loss of my Alex. Did they have to watch their child suffer? (Harder for them) Were they present when their child died? (Harder for me) It’s not a scorecard, it’s just a way I try to imagine how much pain they are in. A way to identify with someone else who has gone through someone just as horrific. I get that it’s weird.
I take comfort in knowing that those children will enjoy a Christmas celebration in Heaven with our Savior. That they will know joy and love in the presence of God. I hope that their families will find comfort on their own as they struggle to get through the holidays without their children. As I think about a silent Christmas morning in those households, without little feet to wake Mommy and Daddy up extra early, I hug my own kids a little closer. I give thanks for what we have, and I send prayers for what they have lost.