Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Don’t go there. You don’t need to imagine it.

When people want to know the details about my son's death, I try to avoid specifics; not to protect myself, I already know all the gory details. No, I want to protect the asker, especially if he or she has children. I want to protect imaginations from going to a place where they have no reason or need to be. People can’t help asking these questions. They feel their interest is comforting to me, but I find it more of a burden. The tables get turned, and I feel the need to comfort them. It’s happened over and over. When they say they just can’t imagine losing a child, let alone losing one the way I lost mine, I say, “Don’t go there. You don’t need to imagine it.”

I love Anne Lamott's books. And she's a great public speaker as well. That's why I decided to use a quote from her book, Operating Instructions (Anchor Books, 1995), to start off my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On http://www.LuckyPress.com/madelinesharples.html. The death of a child is a parent's worst nightmare, and she put down her fears about that so aptly:

"When I held Sam alone for the first time…, I was nursing him and feeling really spiritual, thinking, please, please God, help him be someone who feels compassion, who feels God's presence loose in the world, who doesn't give up on peace and justice and mercy for everyone. And then a second later I was begging. Okay, skip all that shit, forget it – just please let him outlive me."


Barb said...

As you know, the young parents in my neighborhood are now grieving the death of their beautiful five year old daughter. As parents, our intention and belief is that our children will outlive us. Sometimes, this doesn't happen. A hug to you Madeline - though it is scant comfort.

madeline40 said...

Thank you Barb. I appreciate all the hugs I can get.
Best to you. I'm glad you're writing your blog again.