Ambushed by the news, I dropped the receiver from the pay phone. My knees buckled and I was on the ground. I might have screamed. I don’t remember.
Susie is dead.
My 8-week-old grand daughter is dead.
Over the next week I experienced an exponential dimension to grief. I grieved for our baby. I grieved for my son’s loss and for my daughter-in-law. I grieved for the baby’s uncle, my younger son, who was tasked with letting the family know what happened. I grieved for my mom, just diagnosed with dementia, who was almost derailed by the news.
Our baby’s death was totally unacceptable. I tried to explain to God that this wasn’t right. I yelled and cried and whispered and mourned.
Forward twenty years.
My knees buckled and I crumpled into a chair nearly dropping my cell phone. I don’t remember making a sound. My dog came and sat by me, her eyes full of questions. Carl is dead. My eighteen year old grandson is dead. Ambushed again by death, my breath and all consciousness of time and awareness of space collapsed into that moment.
My next breath came from a new timeline, some not-quite-parallel universe, not the world I had known before.
I grieved the loss of our young man. I grieved for my son’s pain and for my daughter-in-law. I grieved for Carl’s uncle who was tasked, again, with letting the family know what happened. I grieved for Carl’s brother and sister. I grieved for his young cousins to whom suicide was no longer just a word.
Grief has settled into my being like the big maple tree in the yard. It’s always there. It changes. It grows. No longer remarkable, just there.
Now, when my tears flow, I let them fall like the gold and orange leaves of the tree. Maybe they’ll enrich the medium that nourishes renewed life.
Now, I avoid the tree. I look out at the world from beneath it’s branches, but I don’t look at the tree itself.
Now, I set the table and benches in the shadow of the tree. We gather to picnic and tell stories and laugh at jokes.
Now, I sit and remember their broad grins so much like their father’s, their boundless energy, and their eyes.
Now, I recriminate. Why didn’t I take more time? Why did I ever let them leave my arms?
Now, I tell myself that they were never mine. They were visitors passing through. Their lives, their deaths, were theirs.
I miss them.
Now, it’s Tuesday. I have to take the trash to the curb.
About the Author----------------
Elaine Leet is a retired teacher now living in rural Pennsylvania where she grew up. Like most people who have been privileged to lead a long life, she has experienced many losses. None ripped into her like the unexpected loss of grandchildren. In retirement Elaine has begun taking her passion for writing seriously. In June 2019 she published a novella Child of a Troubled Land, dealing with child trafficking in Haiti. In 2020 her Reader Illustrated book Chance’s Diary will offer young artists and older generations to illustrate their own coming of age experiences.