Friday, October 21, 2011

We exist. They existed. Please, see us.

Dear World,

We are men and we are women and we are gender-free...

We are Democrat, Republic, Libertarian, Independent, Green, Apolitical, and ...

We are rich, and poor, and middle class, and classless.

We are Christian, and Jewish, and Muslim, and Buddhist, and Sikh, and Hindu, and Wiccan, and Atheist, and ...

We are employed, and unemployed, and partially employed, and recklessly employed.

We are Irish, and Native American, and African, and French, and Haitian, and Romanian, and British, and Tibetan, and Italian, and Mexican, and Germanic, and Norwegian, and Jamaican, and ...

We are high school dropouts, we are college educated, and we are streetwise...

We speak one language or many languages, and we are from all parts of our Planet Earth.

We are young, and middle aged, and old, even facing our own death.

We are from the north, the south, the east, and the west.

We are a family of one, and two, and three, and ten...

We are both traditional and non-traditional families.

We are engineers, and janitors, and doctors, and teachers, and firefighters, and lawyers, and athletes, and marketers, and taxi drivers, and pastors, and rabbis, and elected officials, and administrators, and nurses, and maids, and childcare providers, and artists, and poets, and landscapers and...

We are tall, short, and medium, and emaciated and healthy and round and obese.

We are all around you, everyday. Everywhere you go, we are there, but you may not see us.

We are bereaved parents....

We have suffered life's worst tragedy. We have suffered a reality you dare not imagine.

Our children have died from birth to toddlerhood. From toddlerhood to young childhood. From young childhood to the teens. From the teens to young adulthood. From young adulthood into middle and late adulthood. Our loss is anachronistic, out of time, out of place. Our children died from cancer, and stillbirth, and fires, and car crashes, and SIDS, and murder, and suicide, and drug overdose, and drowning, and disease, and premature birth, and wars, and natural disasters, and congenital anomalies and...

Despite all the differences in who we used to be...

Now, we are bereaved parents. And siblings. And grandparents. And aunts, uncles, godparents, friends. And our lives will never, ever, ever be the same. This common thread is woven through our lives, and will remain part of our painful tapestry from generation to generation. Our grief is not contagious. It will not make you sick. It will not cause those you love to die. You are already vulnerable even though you may not realize it. Grief is simply an expression of love; hallowed love with no where to go except to be enacted through our mourning tears, through remembering them the rest of our days.

You can help us.

Please visit the front page of the Arizona Republic to learn more about federal legislation for all bereaved parents.

Then, please, support us by signing this petition and emailing your Congress women and men and asking them to sign on to and support this important legislation.

We are bereaved parents. We are one, despite our differences. Our grief unites us.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

English Breakfast Tea with Some Tears, Please

It was an early morning start, unusually brisk for Phoenix. On my way to the office, I stopped at Starbucks for English Breakfast Tea which I often drink with a dollop of cream when I'm thinking of Elisabeth.

As I was mixing my concoction of stevia and cream, a man came up behind me.

"Nice art," he said. "I've never seen anything like it."

"Hmmm..." I said silently to myself. "What art? Is he talking to me?"

So I looked at him, nonplussed.

Then, I remembered that my hair, pulled back in a ponytail with a racer back, black organic cotton dress, allowed my very large back tattoo to be mostly visible.

"Oh, thanks much," I said.

I smiled and turned back toward the tea which reminded me of my Beloved Elisabeth and our many tea moments together.

As if possessed by a puppeteer, and against my innately shy nature which certainly keeps me less vulnerable to a sometimes cruel and unmindful-of-the-bereaved world, I said to him as he was turning away, "It's an excerpt from Dark Night of the Soul. St John of the Cross."

"Oh," he replied, unmoved by my disclosure.

I smiled. He smiled back. I started to turn again, and for reasons I cannot explain- as this is utterly uncharacteristic of me, and I'd never before disclosed this to a stranger, I actually said, "I got it for my daughter. She died." I waited. Paused. As if surprised by my own utterances.

"The tattoo was done with her ashes."

He looked at me. Straight into my eyes. Neither of us moved for what seemed like many minutes.

And his eyes started to fill with tears. I could see it.

Mine did too.

Then he whispered, "I lost my son."

And in the space between two strangers, a person who I will likely never see again, there was a knowing, an ineffable moment of knowing.

We both walked away from our moment in the Sun together. And my day was transformed.

Some English Breakfast with plenty of room for cream and tears, please?


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

Follow me on Facebook