I sit up in bed. My wife is in the other room, sobbing.
"I just guess I'm not a good mother. Maybe we won't have kids."
I sit down by her and put my arm around her. The funeral, a grave-side funeral in a small grave in the family plot, had been 2 months ago. It's hell living through a death of a child. A useless, worthless death. A simple but profound home accident. Her death was instantaneous. I cannot even yet, after nearly 40 years, gaze back in memory of the death. It makes my stomach sick. The death served absolutely no purpose.
At Thanksgiving, my sister brings some pictures of her daughter, playing with our daughter in the packing boxes as we moved. Both of us look at the pictures and begin profusely crying. I cannot hold back the tears. Later, my dad takes me outside.
"You've got to get yourself together. Pick yourself up and go on. If you don't, your wife will never get over it."
No one ever gets over a death of a child. It cheats life. It hacks a jagged, bloody part of your heart out, personally, and the part left, is on life support.
Am I bitter? You bet I'm bitter. I will always be bitter. In reality, it was our fault. We bought her a bed that was deadly, and we hadn't realized it. If we had allowed her to share our bed, which we did with all the others, by the time she had been ready for her own bed, she wouldn't have been able to climb through the back lattices. It was only later that "The Phil Donahue Show" (1970) dealt heavily with home safety. And we simply over-looked our daughter's dangerous climb into bed.
If we had only been more cognizant back then, we would have known, instantly, that the bed was deadly. A simple bed sheet tied around the opening would have kept her from using that route to get in bed.
I hate The Old Testament Book of Job. He loses his whole family, but at the end of the book, God gives him a new family, and he lives happily ever after. It doesn't work that way. You don't replace dead kids. Your blessed with a child, and you expect to see her through Kindergarten, high school graduation, college, marriage, ... . You've been cheated.
On a negative/positive note, it prepared us to gain some congruency with others who go through the same hell. And we have. Two juvenile delinquents who stayed with us a while, committed suicide. We've attended over 6 children's funerals and a dozen teenagers' funerals.
One little girl who came to my office, drowned jumping into the water to fetch her sister's shoes. I've often wondered if it would have helped had I made the Fire Department spend enough time on how dangerous water is. We emphasized fire.
And then the 2nd grader who found his uncle's hand gun and killed his kindergarten brother. Horrible. It tore the family to threads and drove the young boy into drugs and delinquency. He actually spent some time at our house. His dad had become an alcoholic, and their first assumption was that it brought them closer to God. The "halo effect" of a child's death, wears off quickly, and then the reality of hell sets in. Everyday we wake up, we are reminded that our child is gone. Suicide levels are high among families who lose children in an accident, ... especially among those who can some how credit themselves with some of the blame, and we all do. There is no funeral home manager in the U. S. who likes doing kid funerals.
A child riding in the back of a pickup dies when the pickup spins out and hits an on coming car. The child is thrown onto the highway, like an egg. I stare at her in her casket. My daughter loses her friend to a drunk, truck driver. Our son loses a girl friend on the first day she gets her driver's license. A teenager who climbs outside of the pickup he is driving, and lets another friend drive as he crawls over the bed to get in the other side of the pickup.
"I saw his brains all over the road, one of the students in the pickup says."
A teenager dies playing Russian Roulette with a pistol. Our best basketball player gets in a group of boys his age, and they decide to beat up a drunk. The man drives. The boy is in jail. Yet another kind of death. Two wasted lives.
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