May we see our children grow old

What mel Did - church flowers
Image credit: Melinda Fargo

­My text this week is changed from that originally intended. Being a birthday weekend for me and my twin, there was contemplation aplenty to be had in our 55th year. Mostly, how the hell we were already in our 55th year.

Then my son called with the desperate news of a school friend who had died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage.

Trying to console a bereft son, I remembered the impact of first deaths in youth, the first taste of human mortality.

Growing up, we would likely have experienced the death of a relative or family friend at a distance. We knew it was a sad occurrence but we didn’t feel the import of such news. It was an occasion to mourn in the way we had seen adults mourn, but it didn’t touch us.

The first experience of death that really comes close when we are young is traumatic. Years on, watching your child experience the death of a peer is polarising.

I pride myself on having the right words for most occasions. In this instance, my attempts at solace felt empty and trite. This may have been because of the guilt.

The guilt of feeling relief my child was safe when a mother elsewhere would not be enjoying the same comfort.

I brokered some time to reconcile these complicated thoughts by passing my son onto his grandmother. No stranger to life’s knocks, I knew her solidity in the face of this tragic news would bolster my son for the days ahead.

In the meantime, I will no longer lament reaching my 55th year, and pray that mothers everywhere enjoy the privilege of watching their children grow old.

RIP, Carl.

1 Comment

  • Happy Birthday to you. My Dad once said to me, when I couldn’t believe I was turning 40 (or was it 50?): “Better than the alternative.” I’m also in my 55th year, but I would never say I’m anything over 54 – until I’m not 54 anymore.

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