For the past 4 years I have had the sincere honor to sit with children and their families as they navigate living life while experiencing significant grief. Today, it is National Childhood Grief Awareness Day. A day when we honor the millions of children who have experienced significant loss in the U.S. just this year alone. I experienced grief as a child, and now as a mama I know how important it is that these conversations remain open. That children are invited to feel, think and to speak their experiences. I wrote this piece after the first time I allowed my children in to witness my grief, and it was no surprise that their love met me and taught me much.
I unpacked them from the car
all of us hesitant, unsure how to begin
how to act out here, in the rows marked with grief.
It was their first time standing at the foot of the deceased.
It was my first time bringing them into a part
of me that wasn't strong and all knowing.
I have told them about him.
how he grew me in his quiet love,
how the glass-top lake seemed to sparkle when he smiled.
I have placed their feet in the soil of my youth.
I have filled their lungs with the same country air.
and i have sung them to sleep under that Northern sky.
Yet, for six years I had kept this place closed.
This place of heartbreak.
I had traveled alone, stood by his sleeping head and whispered my words to him as the raven called my grief from somewhere above me.
I brought to him now my new birth, signs of the life that continued without him.
Ava's pink raincoat appeared garish against the muted green.
Their youthful breaths seemed indulgent among those that have none.
I swallowed against the anger that his arms were right below us
yet he could not fold them around these babies,
he could not hold me the way he used to that reminded me I was home.
Angst as their warm new flesh traced his name on the cool hard stone.
They watched me, unsure -
as my eyes flashed
until at last I gave way to the well of tears.
And in the holy reverence of childhood,
they did not retreat.
They stayed right there in the moment with me
as a window into their mama's soul was reveled to them:
In my heart, lies a pocket of sorrow, six feet deep.
I knelt down and pressed them to me
allowing their warmth to find the spaces grown cold,
never so fully aware of just the thin strip of earth that separated my childhood and my motherhood.
Around us the rain made
soft pools in the dirt that i had watched
cover him with darkness all those years ago.
I felt their strength flagging me on each side
the divinity of their pure love poured out for those they had never met
slowly healing the red of the fresh raw.
I stood and faced the tree line, hands finding mine in the organic rhythm of mother and child.
Today, I knew this ground not only cradled my past in its belly,
it had allowed for love to grow us here.
And to this cycle we will always remain -
Part of this ever turning of soil,
this risky business of bringing to the surface both death and new life.
(reposted from Pohlkotte Press with permission)