Sunday, September 25, 2011

Uncomfortable, Do Not Read. I Mean It

It has struck me that the corpses of children are not peaceful. Each one I see, even if I catch them out of the corner of my eye and try to avoid, is one too many. The latest was 17 and will always be 17. She had just started to get on the right track and turn her life around, contemplate a future when she had a tragic auto accident. The other two passengers have managed to survive and I am grateful for that. There is only so much the artistry of body preparation can do for a girl on life support for a week, then waiting for her funeral for another week. She did not look peaceful. Why should she?

I was ambushed at one funeral and forced to see the battered body of a true infant beaten to death by it's mother, the grandchild of a colleague. No, not peaceful. Why should her tiny body be peaceful?.

I stood by my sister in the place of my mother, who refused, while we looked at the body of my 9 year old niece, a murder victim. 24 hours in a pond, two long hot trips to Little Rock to and from the medical examiner, no way to make her look peaceful. Why should she?

Several years before I had to prepare myself and my son to lose my first niece, his closest cousin. After a valiant but terminal fight against a still incurable cancer, my 8 year old niece breathed her last, but not gently, not quietly and not ready to let go. I did not see her that last trip to Riley, Her arms were held above her head by the tumors in her lymph glands. I had to be the grownup and view. She looked angry, and that spirited little girl probably was angry at leaving before her time and going through so much pain. She was a bossy little girl and liked to get her way! That fighting spirit took her well past any projected survival date. She did not look peaceful and why should she? She was fighting for her life.

She grew me up in many ways--not ways I wanted to grow up, but in ways I needed to, to be able to face these losses over time, to act like a grownup in sad and terrible situations, and hopefully say nothing stupid to someone in grief.

There I go losing my focus. I felt the need to express this somewhere. Maybe I won't publish it. I did warn you.