Soft music drifts through the room, his face carved with a smile as if he were dreaming of the peaceful melody behind closed eyes. Off to the side a plush brown teddy bear shivers in his purple ribbon, missing his warm embrace. Tucked tightly in his tiny fingers a sprig of yellow flowers, dangling a note Love, Mama and Daddy. My cousins sleep is enternal, inside his 30 inch coffin.
That was two years ago, and for the brief four months of his life we visited him in the hospital at UVA. His kidneys were the size of grapefruit, pushing his legs out of socket. We never gave up hope.
Why does this happen?
Silverware clinks on everyday dishes, quickly losing their burden to hungry mouths. Idle chatter and reprimands for climbing over the table to steel a taste of butter fill the air, smiles infectious...all pause as the clattering phone vibrates across the couter. Words rush from the speaker in exasperation, overpowered by the sound of her heart shattering into a thousand pieces. Her husband left her for an old girlfriend, the All American couple, no more.
We were best friends. We went to church together, hung out multiple times a week, talked on the phone almost daily. He never said a word. He never returned my calls again.
What do you say?
I would love nothing more than in that moment to make everything right, by word or a snap of the fingers, but it is beyond me. And the last thing anyone wants is for someone to tell them how to fix it or say they know how it feels...
We all experience pain. Everyone has a story...of death, of job loss, of heart break, of illness. In telling them, they bring us together, because we can all relate. No one escapes. There is comfort in just being together. Because there are some questions we will never have the answer to.
The danger is that we camp there in the suffering, letting pain become the center of our universe...we either get bitter or better. The bitterness robs us of what we do have, replacing it with a void of what we don't have...of life.
I am not my parents first child, though I am the oldest. My brother was still born. If my mom had stayed in the pain, I never would have had a chance at life.