January 10, 2012

Thoughts on Survival

To think that providence would take a child from his mother while she prays, is appalling 
Who told us we'd be rescued? 
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares? 
We're asking why this happens to us who have died to live, it's unfair 
This is what it means to be held 
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life 
And you survive

This is an excerpt from the song I listened to on the ride home from work. It’s a pretty song, very melodic and “singable” as my mother would say.

But today the lyrics hit me especially hard after yesterday’s news about the drowning of a young man. His dad happens to have a pretty high-profile job in the community and Twitter was buzzing with well-wishes, prayers and condolences for this young man’s family. Rightfully so. I thought about how terrible, how nightmarish this must be for his parents. Then my thoughts turned again to the young man who was a victim of homicide in one of the city’s most impoverished areas. His parents don’t have high profile positions and no one, except maybe their neighbors, church members and family know them. No Twitter condolences for them. But yet, the grief is the same.

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and let the hatred numb our sorrows

Losing a child is unthinkable...unspeakable.  I found myself choking back tears for these families…and for some reason I remembered August 7 of 1952. It’s just a date to most people, but that day is part of my family’s narrative. It was the day of the accident that wiped out all of my extended family: my mom and my aunt’s other sister, brother, father and Mary Jane – a six year-old who was my aunt’s only child -- all died in the crash. How my aunt and my mom survived that, I’ll never know, especially when you consider that all this happened before people – especially black people – used therapy to work things out. But they survived.

The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow 

It’s odd. My aunt’s been gone for about twenty years now; and although I’ve always known about “1952”, it was always a "remote" kind of memory.  Until today, I never completely made the connection between her grief for Mary Jane and the lifelong scar she carried over her loss...and her survival of it as well.

If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our Savior
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

Hoping peace and survival for the families that have lost so much.


  1. losing a child is not something u would ever wish on ur worst enemy...

    the deeply profound emotional pain u eventually learn to live with engulfs every cell in your body and u can't imagine ever breathing again...

    u feel abandoned and all alone in ur grief and life as u know it will never be the same... u will never be the same...

    over time ur shattered heart will heal...but a piece will always be missing...

    and then, when someone else loses a child, ur heart breaks all over again......for them


  2. I don't think I could ever be that strong...you know?