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Final Moments – Step Back

Final Moments – Step Back 620 310 Jason Stadtlander

Michael lay with his head on the soft, down pillow as he watched his wife’s chest. The rhythmic rise and fall of her bosom under the old, cotton nightgown. This ancient familiar warmth had given him the strength to start his day for the last sixty-six years. His eyes moved down toward her legs, which were covered under the white knitted blanket. Her old hands with skin now so thin that the form of every vein, ligament, and bone shown through them as they lay upon the cover. He could hear birds outside the open window but did not want to look toward it, did not want to take his eyes from the view before him. Slowly, he turned his head upward and looked at her face, asleep, so peaceful.

Her white hair flowed down and around the edges of her face, framing it in ethereal beauty. Her flawless skin made her appear twenty years younger, despite the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. When she smiled, the lines disappeared, and the room was filled with light.
She wasn’t smiling now, just sleeping, softly sleeping.

He thought back to last week as they sat at dinner when she smiled at him before she passed out, and the pain struck him.

Step back, it was her birthday as she blew out the candles with the number “88” on the cake.

Step back, the boat ride on Lake Erie with their grandson and two great-grandchildren. Michael held Beth’s hand and sat as the wind blew their white hair, filled with the smell of the lake.

Step back, their fiftieth anniversary as they sat at the restaurant, surrounded by friends and family. So many people that had touched their lives over the years together, standing tall despite the odds.

Step back, in the shade of the trees, as they walked through the park, pushing their grandson in his stroller, autumn freshly fallen and the leaves blowing in small vortices around them.

Step back, the nightmare he had awoken to, his daughter, Jennie dying in a car accident as she drove along the coast. But it wasn’t a dream, it was a memory. Beth had held him as he cried, and in turn, he had cradled her as she cried, her sobs shaking his shoulder.
Step back, their grandson had come into the world, and Beth sat in the hospital room chair holding the newborn baby boy, his soft, perfect skin, and an entire life before him.

Step back, Jennie was walking down the aisle and Michael, as nervous as the day that he lifted his own bride’s veil years ago – gave Jennie’s hand to her new husband, Robert.

Step back, Jennie introduced Robert to her mother and father on the front porch as Michael stood with his shotgun in hand, always the dramatic flair. Robert had taken one look at the gun and stepped back. Beth then grabbed the gun from Michael and pumped the gun, opening the chamber and showing it was not loaded but merely a scare tactic.

Step back, Jennie handed a hand-made ornament that she had created for her father in second grade. Her long golden hair cascading down her shoulders as she smiled with great anticipation as he opened the tissue wrapped ornament.

Step back, Beth handed Michael their newborn daughter. He took the swaddled baby and gently cradling it in his arms, feeling alien to the idea of holding a child. “She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” He had said. “Next to you, of course.” He had quickly added.
Step back, Michael adjusted his bowtie. So nervous, that his hands were shaking. He had been madly in love with Beth since he was 17, and now, here he stood in the room adjacent to the sanctuary, about to take her hand in marriage. “Dear God, please help me to follow your guidance. Help me to protect and love her for the rest of my life.”

At the altar, he had lifted her veil and kissed her. Beth had whispered in his ear, “Will you love me for the rest of my life?” to which he had replied, “For all of your life and a day, my love.”

Back in the present, the warm bedclothes wrapped Michael in a cocoon of warmth, yet a chill ran up his spine. He reached his hand out and touched Beth’s face. She opened her bright blue eyes and looked at him, a flash of sorrow in her eyes as she felt her body failing her. Beth looked into her husband’s eyes, “It’s time.” She said.

Michael nodded and petted her hair. “Shh, I know. It’s okay.” He whispered.

“Will you love me for the rest of my life?” she asked, as she had asked thousands of times over their years together. He shook his head gently as a single tear streamed down his face, and his lips trembled.

“No. I’ll love you for the rest of mine, and a day.” He replied and wrapped his arms around her as she took her last breath.
Michael lay there for an hour, unable to move, just holding Beth in his arms, sobbing.


Jack and Elaine – Lost

Jack and Elaine – Lost 764 432 Jason Stadtlander

Every year the county fair fell around Elaine’s birthday making it the perfect birthday gift. Her friend Jack and his family would be joining Elaine and her parents this year. She would finally be able to share the collection of wonder and amazement that she loved so much. Perhaps she could even get her parents to try and get her a prize at one of the many carnival games – something her parents never seemed to give in to. Elaine salivated at the thought of the delicious food and rides as they danced in her head.

This year she read in the newspaper about a giant pumpkin that won grand prize; 1,260 pounds. It was hard to imagine how big that must be and Elaine was very excited to see it, moving it to the top of her ‘must see list’. She loved the animals, dog shows and frozen bananas which for some reason always tasted better in the crisp autumn air of the fair.

Sitting in her father’s minivan as they entered the gate she wore a grin from ear to ear as did Jack sitting next to her. They parked the van and she and Jack leaped out. Even from out here, the smell of French fries, fried dough and Italian sausage were overwhelming, instantly making Elaine hungry. Within two minutes, she convinced her parents to stop at the first few games – throwing darts at balloons and winning her a stuffed pig and some large fake dollar bills. She was having a blast!

Jack and his parents headed for the restroom, while she and her family made their way toward the giant pumpkin in the Fruits and Vegetable hall, weaving their way through the crowds of people. Elaine held her piggy in one hand and dollar bills in the other. Someone bumped into her and a few of the massive dollar bills fell out of her hand. She grabbed at them as they started to blow away. Elaine ran after it for about thirty feet and caught it, then stood up to rejoin her parents but they weren’t in front of her. They had not seen her stop and kept walking. Panic set in, she looked to the right, then to the left. Suddenly she felt very small, a little girl surrounded by a towering, moving mass of people. She dropped a dollar bill, she quickly grabbed it, she suddenly felt like it meant everything that she not lose what her mommy and daddy won her. She grabbed it and squeezed it and her stuffed piggy tightly, standing alone in the crowd as it ebbed and flowed around her in a frightening blaze. For a fleeting moment she saw her mother, then realized it was a woman with similar hair but not her mother. The woman looked at her and saw the fear in Elaine’s eyes, looked away and paused; tapping the man on the shoulder next to her she looked back again. She came back to Elaine and knelt down.

“Sweetie, are you lost?”

Elaine’s blue eyes filled with tears and she nodded, squeezing the pink stuffed animal tighter. She didn’t say anything to the woman because she was told to never talk to strangers, but she was so scared she didn’t know what to do.

“What’s your name?” the woman asked her.

“Elaine.” She replied, trembling.

“Elaine, I’m Julie, this is Nevin. Are you here with your parents?”

She nodded.

“Where did you see your parents last?”

She said nothing, though she wanted to tell them that she had seen them at the entrance to the building.

“It’s okay, we’ll help you find them.”

Elain began, “We were going to the giant pumpkin and then…” she looked around nervously.

“Julie, the lost children’s booth is just around the corner. Let’s take her over there.” Nevin said to the woman.

Julie looked at the small red head who was trembling, she put her hand gently on the girl’s shoulder.

“We’re going to help you find your parents. Okay?”

Elaine nodded, feeling the world spinning, her heart racing and uncertain.

Walking towards the lost children’s booth, Nevin spotted a police officer and walked over to him, explaining the situation. He looked down at Elaine and smiled, “Elaine, I’m Officer Tom. Your parents are looking for you. Will you come with me?”

Elaine squeezed Julie’s hand. Julie bent down, “It’s okay. He’s a policeman. He’ll help you find your mommy and daddy, okay?” and she softly passed Elaine’s hand over to Officer Tom.

The two walked to the lost children’s booth, but her parents weren’t there. For thirty minutes she sat at a small chair at a table, playing with a puzzle with her right hand, gripping piggy tightly with her left hand. She tried to act like she wasn’t scared, but the fear was overpowering. Officer Tom talked to her and told her about his own little boy. “I remember a time when I lost my son when he was three. We were at a really big store that sold coats. He was really scared, but we were scared too. You’re parents already checked in here and they went back to go see if they could find you. They’ll be back soon.”

Finally, her father showed up at the door to the booth and the police officer greeted him. “She was found over near the entrance to the picnic area.”

“Oh god Elaine! We were so scared!” He bent down and hugged her tightly. She wrapped her arms and legs around her father and for the first time let go of the piggy and started to cry, relieved to have found her parents.

Checkout Jack and Elaine’s other adventures


The Power of Love

The Power of Love 2400 1350 Jason Stadtlander

I have written many poems and stories on love within this blog. Just look at the keywords to the left of this article to read some of them or use the search box.

I attempted to define love as best I could in “Love Is…“, and although I get a LOT of hits on the article, I still find it doesn’t do the word ‘love’ justice.

In a word – Love

Arabic: حُب
Bulgarian: любов
Chinese: 喜爱
Czech: láska
Danish: kærlighed
Dutch: liefde
Estonian: armastus
Finnish: rakkaus
French: amour
German: die Liebe
Greek: αγάπη
Hungarian: szeretet
Icelandic: ást
Indonesian: sayang
Italian: amore
Japanese: 愛
Latvian: mīlestība
Lithuanian: meilė
Norwegian: kjærlighet
Polish: zamiłowanie
Portuguese: amor
Romanian: dragoste
Russian: любовь
Slovak: láska
Slovenian: ljubezen
Spanish: amor
Swedish: kärlek
Turkish: aşk

Those are just twenty nine of the roughly 6,500 spoken languages in our world. Every single language has a word for love. Some languages have multiple expressions of love within a single word. So the concept of love itself is far from alien to our species, but the ability to completely understand it is as complex as the ability to understand faith.

The Force of Love

When Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker to “trust in the force”, he spoke of a power that surrounds us. This power can also be compared to love and hate. Love, being the good side of the “force” and Hate being the “dark” side of the force. Love can consume us, support us and tear us apart.


A man sees a young woman in Grant Park in Chicago, finds her attractive and sits down at the bench next to her as she is feeding some pigeons and reading a book. He tries not to stare but admires how her long hair cascades over her shoulders and over her light jacket. Then his eyes trace down her arm to her delicate hands that hold the book. Sensing someone looking at her, she lowers her book and sees the dark-haired man with a five o’clock shadow, trying not to look at her but their eyes lock. It’s love at first sight.

As the days progress into weeks the two get to know each other and find multiple common the-power-of-love-jason-stadtlanderbonds. They grow closer and closer, and love becomes a comfort, a blanket that keeps them warm and carries them through each day. It’s the comfortable love of daily life.

One day, the woman gets a job that requires her to move back to France where she was raised. He goes with her temporarily to help her get established, intending to, and wanting to come join her when his own job will allow. They spend four beautiful weeks in France and she shows him sights that only the locals know, such as the markets of Marché St. Quentin and the historic movie theater of La Pagode. Then the day comes that he must go back to Chicago. His heart wrenches as he hugs and kisses her goodbye, never knowing when he will see her physically again and he walks through security at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The man forces himself to board the plane and talks with her on the phone until the flight attendant requests him to turn off the phone. He sits, staring out the window as the plane pulls away from the gate and for the first ten minutes, it feels as though someone has attached a cable to his heart and tethered it to the tarmac. For he breaks down, silently crying to himself as his heart is ripped from his chest. It’s the pain of love.

Love That Heals

Love has been shown to have healing properties. Holistic medicine firmly follows the idea that love has strong healing powers. In hospitals, it is now routine to use therapy animals. These are animals that are very good-natured and trained to be with the ill or injured patients and give them love such as the Comfort Dogs of Boston.

Sitting next to a loved one that is in a coma and talking to them is regular practice. Not only because it keeps the loved one in the lives of those that are conscious, but it has also been shown to help the patients heal.

Studies have shown that people who have someone to love or have someone who loves them, live longer than those who do not.

Love of a Child

To hold a brand new human in your arms, one that (ideally) has been created with someone you love, is overwhelming. The flood of undefinable emotions and the incredible reality that there is a new life in your world that will always be a part of you is a consuming love. As the days go on and you get to know this small life, this child, it knows how to do only four things; Eat, sleep, poop and love you (you like how I ordered those?). The love that a child shows for a parent is unconditional and conversely, the love that a parent has for the child is nurturing and encompassing.

Love Defined by a Child

In researching what love means, I came across a very amusing article that discusses how children define love. Here are five of my favorite children’s definitions of love:

  • “Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4
  • “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5
  • “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.  That’s love.” Rebecca – age 8
  • “If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,” Nikka – age 6
  • “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen,” Bobby – age 7

What does the power of  love mean to you?

The Dos and Don’ts of Monitoring Your Children Online

The Dos and Don’ts of Monitoring Your Children Online 1151 661 Jason Stadtlander

I have been asked about monitoring children for decades. It’s a very real concern that parents, educators and privacy advocates have. Although I do bring it up every few years here on my blog, I thought I would re-approach the topic and shed some light on monitoring today’s children.


The primary concern most parents come to me with is “I want to respect my child’s privacy and I don’t really feel it’s ethical to monitor what they are doing.”

Let me be blunt here, and this comes from years of working with educators and law enforcement:

 there is and should never be any expectation of complete privacy when it comes to a child living under your guardianship.

If you are their parent or guardian, your primary responsibility is their well being and also teaching them right from wrong. Before the Internet did our parents just leave us to our own devices for days on end? No, of course not. If we were going out (even if it was all day) we would let our parents know where we are going and our parents, being responsible would reply “Ok, but I want you back by [fill in the blank].”

Why should this be any different online? In today’s world, social media and our online presence are just as important as our physical one and children are finding ways to assert and understand this online presence early on. We as parents need to understand that this is normal behavior and it is how our children are communicating with their peers and ultimately how they learn to communicate online will reflect how they function in today’s society. We as parents must know (and explain to our children) that we are not ‘dictating’ terms for their online use, but we are guiding and ensuring that they show respect and communicate in channels that are safe for them.

Reasons to Monitor

When I first started working in computers and parents first came to me, they had concerns that their child might be communicating with a child predator or visiting porn sites. We have moved way beyond this when it comes to our children being online. I’m not downplaying either of these concerns, but in today’s world, watching what children do online is more about understanding the people that they are becoming with their online presence. How they behave online can have long term repercussions with their future schooling and even their job employment.

We have moved from a generation of parents that don’t understand why or how children chat online to a generation of parents who not only understand chatting online but do it themselves. We are now not as overly concerned with our children being online as much as where they are going online and what they are posting. Monitoring your child is not solely about installing software on their computer or phone. It’s about communicating with your child, asking them up front, where are they going? What are they using the Internet for? And then checking yourself with their Twitter account, Facebook account or Instagram posts.

Here are some important facts to consider when monitoring your child:

  • Who are they talking to online? Do they know them in person? – This is one of my personal rules with my children (who are under 16). I have no problem with them chatting with friends. But they have to be friends that they know in real life (at least at this point). Stranger Danger is a real concern and it’s something that most schools teach. It’s important to know exactly who your children are talking to. There are times I have seen my children talking online with someone and I regularly will walk up and ask “who are you talking to”. If they can instantly tell me the name and it’s someone they go to school with then I am ok. If there is hesitation, then I know they are thinking up a lie and that it will need further investigation.
  • What apps are they using to chat with? Some of the more popular apps out there are Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Kik, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Instagram, Tik-Tok, Tumblr, Twitter, Houseparty, Live.me, YouNow and MeetMe are just a few of the apps children are embracing for social connections.
  • What are they talking about? – Most parents that monitor their children’s online activities find they are completely innocent, searching for things that they are curious about, chatting with friends about other friends and activities at school. It’s about being aware, not reading every line of text that flows through their fingers.
  • What are they posting? Ensure that they aren’t posting anything in a public space that can reveal personally identifiable information. Make sure that what they are posting is age appropriate for them. If it is not, ask them to take it down.

Monitoring vs Awareness

As my two previous points have summarized, it really all boils down to you as a parent knowing where your children are going and what they are doing online. It’s not about watching their every move. Children do absolutely need a small amount of privacy, otherwise, they cannot discover who they are and how they fit into this ever-changing world.

Communication is key with children. If they know you will talk to them at any point about anything, then they will be more likely to make sure they aren’t doing something that would be inappropriate. In turn, they also will be more likely to come to you if they have a problem.

I monitor my children with a small piece of software that allows me to control what they access (if I choose) and it allows me to see what they search for online, and what chat apps they are using and even who they are chatting with. I do not generally look at it unless I have cause for concern (changes in their behavior or acting evasively). There are times I have gone in and quickly scanned it just to make sure it’s still on par with their normal online presence, but I generally give them their freedom to be themselves.

My children know I have monitoring software and that I can use it if I need to. But they also know that if they keep an open line of communication with me, I will give them more personal space.

Software Available

There are several good parental software on the market. One of my favorites is Mobicip as it forces all of their network traffic through a single VPN proxy (routes all of their online use through a single entry point). It’s not completely free, though it does have free options, I believe you get what you pay for when it comes to technology. It cannot be removed without the parent removing it (and believe me, my kids have tried). A few others that I have personally worked with are Net Nanny and  Kaspersky.

Generally, when it comes to software, you want software that will help you look back at a history of what your child has been doing online – not necessarily monitor them in real time. You also should look for software that has reviews from a reputable source such as PC Magazine or even check with your local law enforcement.

Father and Son

PFP (Sonnet) The Benevolent Son

PFP (Sonnet) The Benevolent Son 1024 681 Jason Stadtlander

“The Benevolent Son”

Tho new upon this world you came in love
You showed me that the white clouds were parted
As new breath came in your lungs it started
If touched by you, a person holds the dove

You show us truth and ways to see above
Kindly, your conduct incites bighearted
Showing those around you, love restarted
Bereft of anger, your soft words speak of

As a youth, you guided with your actions
Showing me how to give to those in need
Stating “Daddy, give her a dollar please?”
I was surprised by your benefactions 
Proud to call you my son, through each good deed
United, father and son, friends in ease

About This Poetry Form

Name: Sonnet (Italian)
Description: A Sonnet is a poem of an expressive thought or idea made up of 14 lines, each being 10 syllables long. Its rhymes are arranged according to one of the schemes – Italian, where eight lines called an octave consisting of two quatrains which normally open the poem as the question are followed by six lines called a “sestet” that are the answer, or the more common English which is three quatrains followed by a rhyming couplet.

This particular poem is about my youngest son and is an Italian Sonnet which follows the form abbaabbacdecde (each letter representing a line). Each of the corresponding lines will rhyme with the last word with each line being 10 syllables long.

About This Series

Read more about this series here.

Tiny Treasures, Red Leaves and Lucky Pennies

Tiny Treasures, Red Leaves and Lucky Pennies 2560 1440 Jason Stadtlander

Arriving at my children’s school, I get out of my car and my children follow suit, grab their backpacks and we walk toward the door. Along the way my youngest sees a few autumn leaves on the ground, despite the fact that it’s only one day after labor day.

He reaches down and finds the two most red, beautiful leaves and hands one to me. This is a very common practice with him. I smile at him and he trots off toward the door, holding my cell phone that he is talking to his grandfather 800 miles away on. Another common practice, our morning call to my father and something that brings a smile to their face and gets my father’s day off to a wonderful start.

We go into the school and I check them in for early drop-off, give them each a hug and as I’m leaving, my son walks over and hands me his red leaf.

“Why did you give that to me? You already gave me the other red leaf.” I say

To which he replies, “Two red leaves are better than one.” and he runs over to the Lego bin.

I suppose one can’t argue with that logic. So, I take my extra leaf and go to the car, sit down and place the two red leaves next to the four other leaves he’s given me over the past few weeks and the three lucky pennies he has given me. I take a moment to examine them. All six leaves and three pennies, one of which is a hay penny. My other son doesn’t tend to find ‘trash to treasure gifts’, he usually colors me creative pictures or makes me a sculpture, but these bits from either boy are more valuable than all the money in the world. Little treasures for a child, big treasures for a parent (at least this parent).

As an adult we spend day in and day out, seeking the dollar, chasing the sun and trying find that perfect peace, that perfect moment. As a parent, I find those perfect peaceful times and perfect moments are all around me, mind you not as often as I’d like, but they are there. Even as I sit here at my desk writing this article, I see 8 photographs of my children and at least 7 pieces of artwork, sculptures, sock snowmen, rock men and pine cone people all around me. Hidden where no one can see, I keep my old leaves from years past and my lucky pennies. My “tiny treasures”.

Strangely, these items mean something to me and I’m sure my father and mother kept the same sort of things and their parents before them. I will admit to having held on to a tiny treasure or two, beyond their, um… expiration date. A berry that rotted, a walnut that may have had something in it that it shouldn’t have. It doesn’t change the fact however, that they were my tiny treasures.

What happens when these people who have these objects are no longer around? The objects get put back into world circulation, are thrown away into a landfill or are sold for some derived value.

What is interesting though, is that all of us are a part of these treasures, we are all connected to them. That penny in your pocket, very well may have been the lucky penny that a child gave to their mother. The same penny that ended up sitting on her dresser for years for no other reason than because her daughter gave it to her.

It is these tiny treasures, these small, seemingly insignificant items that make our daily treks all worthwhile.

What are your tiny treasures?

The Memories We Leave Behind

The Memories We Leave Behind 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Fading MemoriesA 53 year old woman stands in her daughter’s bedroom doorway, her daughter having left for college. She looks around at her daughter’s bedroom. A room that was home to a small baby with a mobile hanging over the crib, later a little girl played with Barbies, said her evening prayers and made forts out of blankets. Not long after, a teen girl rushed in and quickly took off her soccer uniform, dropping it in a heap on the floor so that she could go shopping with friends.

A man stands alone, in his new apartment, the walls adorned with photos of his children that are at their mother’s home. Beanie babies lay lifelessly on the couch where two days ago the children played and laughed. The children will be back, but in these silent moments, the minutes tick by with the weight of a sledgehammer. The absence of laughter and moments missed are difficult to bear.

A brother and sister in their 60s stand in the opening of the garage to the home in which they grew up. Having buried their last parent that morning, they have the unenviable task of sorting through old belongings… of sifting through the memories.

In the end, all that exists of those we know, those we knew and of ourselves are the memories left behind in our minds and the minds of others. Generations pass, and stories are told but memories are lost and inevitably we cease to exist as a person that had dreams, held babies and made love to those that filled our heart. Eventually we are but merely a fact on a piece of paper or in a computer database. A name, a date of birth and perhaps a location of where we lived.

It sounds sad, and it is. But what can we do to change this? What can we do to make sure that we are more that just a name or a date?

For years I have been hired to sit down with those who want to have their story recorded and passed down for generations to come. I believe it’s critical to make sure we record each other’s stories. We all have a story to tell.

Please sit down with your family member, no matter what their age, and record their story. Ask them questions about their childhood, about their marriage, about whatever means the most to them and pass it on. Don’t let the lives of those you love be merely a memory to be lost in the wind.

Frankly Friday – Parents: Those Left Behind

Frankly Friday – Parents: Those Left Behind 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Everyone counts

A close friend told me a few weeks ago about a friend of hers who lost her son Michael Black.

It got me thinking about the people I know who have lost children. I have heard many times the axiom “Parents should never have to outlive their children.”  Being a father of two, as many of you know – I happen to agree with that statement.


How they touch us

We parents have children for a number of reasons:

  • For company
  • For comfort
  • For a part of us to live on after we are gone
  • For an offspring in this world who is part of the person you love
  • For blessing in disguise (in that we may not have planned to have them at all)

And of course there are those who have children who never should have had them – but then that’s not the point of this blog article.

Those of us who do have children (and many who don’t) know that children are a very special gift. They are a link to our past and a hope for our future. They connect us in ways to the world around us that we never thought possible until we had them. We watch children grow from babbling little balls of drooling, diaper-filled-giggle-jiggle creatures, to young people developing thoughts of their own and finally, to young adults who find their place in this world independent of us. They go about creating and finding their own dreams, hopefully achieving them, and drag you along for the ride in ways you never imagined possible – often in ways you never wanted to imagine . . . but you trod along with them regardless, through the bad times as well as the good.

The news that none of us wants

Then, one fateful day, one of our  friends, family members or loved ones receives a call – a  call that in six words shatters your world forever: “I’m sorry. Your child is dead.”

What do you do at a time like that – what does anyone do?

You curl up in a ball – physically, mentally and emotionally – and you cry. Your world is falling in on  itself and you feel as if an entire skyscraper has caved in upon you. You yearn to be comforted, but you want to be left alone at the same time. Most importantly, you want the pain of loss to go away and you want your child to be remembered – to have a chance to live out all the experiences that you are now starting to realize will never come to pass; to never graduate from high school, to never fall in love, to never be married, to never know the beauty of having their own children. And if that child is very young, that “never going to happen” experience may even be a little thing, seemingly insignificant, like never losing that first tooth.

It’s a horrible thing to lose your mother, your father or even your spouse, but in each of these cases, you can go on. Moving on after the loss of a child is something that is never really possible. The depth of loss burrows itself like a tick in the skin of your soul and heart, festering, and creating a hole that will never be filled – ever.

Recovering from the pain

Whether you believe in God, believe in heaven, hell or simply believe that we go nowhere after we die – everyone has his beliefs in what lies beyond, even if it’s no belief at all. I personally believe in God. I just have a hard time believing that all of this bio engineering is simply here by “chance” of evolution.

My beliefs are not the point here, however.

Lisa, I don’t know you – though anyone who has best friends like you is in my opinion a wonderful person. I just want you to know that regardless of whether I (or other people) know you or not, there are people who have you in their hearts, myself included.

I don’t know the pain of losing a child, and I pray that I never do. I am, however, an author. It’s my job to imagine the unimaginable. I frequently find myself trying to put my head into the mind of killers, cops, men, women, children and teens. So it’s not a huge stretch to contemplate and imagine what it must be like to lose a child; but it hurts to even imagine it, and frankly, I’m not sure it’s something I could handle, even with the loving support of friends and family.

It’s up to each person drenched in grief as to whether or not he accepts that comfort or denies that support. Now, I’m not saying that accepting the comfort is always the right answer; sometimes it’s not. At times people need to heal just by being left alone. But eventually, we all need someone to hold a hand, offer a hug, or perhaps just fall asleep beside.

And we’ve all heard those well-intended words: “God never throws you anything you can’t handle.” But let’s be frank here – I think that’s bullshit at times. God throws you things all the time that you can’t handle. But that’s what friends are for, that’s what family is for and that’s what spouses are for.  I can’t think of a single person who has lost someone they love who had absolutely no one else in life to offer comfort.

If there is one commonality in this world, it’s that we don’t have to go through sadness and tragedy alone. Even if I don’t know you well . . . if you’re in pain and you need my comfort, I will be there for you if I can. We are all human, after all, and we are all in this together. So, if you see anyone who has lost a child, reach out to that person. If your comforting gesture or words are not accepted, that’s fine, but be there regardless. That’s the important part.


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