Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Asking "Why" Doesn't Always Bring Answers

It was going to be an incredibly difficult funeral.  Emotional in the most draining way.  Heartshattering in every sense of the word.

Because that's what happens when a young child dies suddenly.  

Hearts shatter.

Mine did and my mind couldn’t stop thinking of my little cousin’s Mother who’d just lost her middle son, so tragically. My mind could not wrap my head around losing a child.  My child.

I suppose none of us can.  None of us can prepare ourselves for a loss that's so monstrous.

A loss that would leave a soul gaping open.  Raw and wilted.


To mindfully go to that place makes me wince in agony.

Imagine?  No.  I could not.

He went out to the movies that night with 3 other friends and never came home.  The three others walked away with minor injuries.  A car crash.

As I walked into the building, then into the room where the funeral was to be held, a slideshow was flashing pictures up on the wall.

Large pictures of happiness.

Those pictures mirrored the life I’m living right now.

Boys, brothers.  Laughing, smiling, making goofy faces for the camera.  Their Mother sitting with her boys on the couch, her arm around them all.  Smiling.  Beaming. So happy.  So proud.

It was then that the dam I had built up in my chest broke wide open.

It had been years since I’d seen them all.  Nicholas was only 5 then.  Not much older than my eldest now.  I remembered his sweet face and brown eyes well.  Just like his Mother’s.  I remember his Mother, so kind.  Always smiling.  Over the years since, unfortunate events had occurred.  Nicholas's father, her husband, (my first cousin) went missing over three years ago in the coldest winter I’ve known to date.

His body has yet to be found.  It's something out of a t.v. criminal drama.  Except this is real life.

And the truth is, reality is harsh.  And it doesn't always end with the mystery solved.

I dream of him once in a while.  In those dreams he is alive.  I wonder how that is even possible but I have hope.  Faith.  We all do.

As people went up to say their words and tell their stories I watched Nicholas's Mother with her youngest, now 10 years old.  He was just an infant when I met him.  A baby.  Her baby.

I watched them together.  Her arm around him, holding him close.  Tightening at times.  Resting her cheek upon his head.  I watched her reach under the pew for more Kleenex.  Handing them to her youngest, using some herself.  I watched how they gave each other comfort, their heads tilted together and my heart ached for that boy who now had lost two heroes in his life at the tender age of 10.

I had wondered how his Mother hadn’t collapsed into a heap on the floor.

And then realized that those two handsome boys that sat by her side were the reasons why.

I sent a thanks to God that she still had them.

I allowed myself to cry like I haven’t cried in many, many years.  I let those tears fall.

And fall.

And fall some more.

Beside me were so many young faces whose tears also fell relentlessly.  Boys, girls.  16 years old with a look of forlornness I’ve never seen before.

His girlfriend of a year stood up to speak. And those that had been holding back at that point…well there was no holding back anymore.

That sweet, beautiful young girl met Nicholas last year when she'd lost her best friend.  He became her shoulder to cry on.  He had helped her through that huge, devastating loss.   

Now where was she to go?  That poor girl...I will think of her often over the years.  No one should bear such heartbreak at that young age.  One thing is certain.  At least this I hope this will be true – her future husband will be a great man.  For he will have to live up to the legacy of Nicholas.  And that will not be easy.  He was, most certainly, a very special boy.

The pastor read a letter; to Nicholas from his Mother.  I braced myself.  I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Anger, sadness, confusion.  Why’s and how could this happen?!

That's what I would be doing.

asking. screaming. yelling at the world.

No.  There was none of that.

It was full of love, grace, tenderness and thanksgiving for having had known him, having mothered him.  Having had loved him.

As his casket was rolled out, the bagpipes began, outward sobbing began, tears fell evermore and we all filed out and into a beautifully bright and sunny day.

I found myself among a sea of sadness under sunshine surrounded by sixteen year old boys holding each other and weeping with a wretchedness I never, ever, please Dear God, ever want to see again.

Then the wind pick up, and swirled almost like a perfect figure eight around almost 500 bodies.  The long hair on my head almost stood up on end like the hair on my arms did then.

And I knew in my heart that it was something from Nicholas.

Perhaps a kiss.  Or an embrace.

I hoped that everyone else had felt it too. 

My Personal Creed
(Nicholas wrote this when he was 14)

I believe that everyone is equal.
I believe that everything happens for a reason.
I believe that music can touch your soul.
I believe that nobody is perfect.
I believe that peace is achievable.
I believe that it is best to be yourself.
I believe that our greatest gift is freedom.
I believe that prayer can make or break your day.
I believe there is only one God.
I believe that we must learn to forgive.
I believe that all we need is love.

Nicholas Taylor



Jackie said...

What a loss. His personal creed, so touching so heartfelt, so beyond his years.

Ado said...

Oh boy.
Am I so glad you wrote this one down.
And ending it with Nicholas's personal creed - so sad. Such a loss. His girlfriend who had lost her friend and used his shoulder to cry on. Who knew that shoulder would be gone so soon?
I can only imagine what that funeral must've been like. So emotional. You are so brave and kind to show up for that family. So glad you wrote this.

jamieywrites said...

I'm sorry for your loss. My prayer for you and your family is that you will find comfort in the beautiful memories you have with him.

Kerstin said...

I am in tears, can feel your heartbreak. No mother should ever have to bury their children, the worst nightmare.
Your post is so full of pain, so raw, haunting.
I believe asking why doesn't bring the answer, it's just beyond comprehension.

Anna said...

I was not ready for this one, almost couldn't finish it but I'm so glad I did. Beautiful piece, so well written and expressed. I cannot imagine losing a child ever, my heart aches for this mother. Excellent post. Now, to find the tissues...

Gia said...

So so so sad :(

Tara said...

oh, my heart hangs heavy. No, asking "why" is not enough...yet, no other words slip so easily from the mouth. you honored him well.

Tere's World said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. The coffee pot got fixed, but heaven forbid... we ran out of creamer once... I thought the world was going to end then also!

Susie Newday said...

Nicholos's Creed is a beautiful legacy and so wise for someone so young. Maybe his family should make it into posters or something.

Sadly, I have been around the heartbreak of friends losing children. Three of my friends in my community have lost children. The last was less than a month ago-not yet 17 , killed when a car hit him as he was crossing the street. It was less than a week after his sister's wedding.

I don't usually leave links in replies but thought you might relate to this post: http://www.newdaynewlesson.com/life-changes-in-an-instant-remember-that/

Lots of hugs.

Stacey said...

I had to gear up to read this because I knew I'd sob, and I did. I am so sorry for your family's loss. I cannot even imagine the depths of your cousin's pain as a mother (and a wife). I don't think I would have handled myself so gracefully, and i pray i never have the chance to find out. Thank you for this beautiful piece. I can tell from his own words, he was a special boy.

christina said...

holy crap i'm in tears right now at work. thank you for sharing this beautifully written piece. i'm so incredibly sorry for your loss.

Susan said...

wow, this is heart wrenching and lovely. i'm so thankful you shared this for so many reasons. nicholas sounds like a wonderful, loving boy. i wondered the same thing - how did his mother not collapse? - and her strength and the strength of her family is truly beautiful. best -s

Tracy @ Scribblesaurus said...

I am so, so sorry for the loss of what sounds like an exceptional young man. He obviously touched the lives of many.

It was brave of you to try and put into words the intense feelings and sadness you, his family and his friends were experiencing.

This was one of the most heartfelt and touching posts I've ever read and I thank you for sharing.

Miranda@becomingmyideal said...

You've done such a wonderful job writing about such a terrible tragedy. I experienced a similar situation at the age of 18 and this story brought all those memories flooding back. The personal creed that he wrote is a special treasure. Thanks for sharing.

Andi Brown said...

I'm so sorry.

Beej said...

How heartbreaking, and how brave of that young woman, to speak so honestly.

Kristin said...

This is beautiful January. Thank you for sharing such an intimate story and having us remember just how precious life is.

Robbie said...

So sorry for you loss. A life cut short by such tragedy...so many lives changed because of it.

Alison@Mama Wants This said...

Oh January. This made me cry. As a mother, I cannot fathom the loss of a child. It's just too heartbreaking.

What a tragic loss. Rest in peace, Nicholas.

Michelle Longo said...

I'm so sorry. This is so heartbreaking. I'm just so sorry...

Kimberly Speranza said...

I could barely get to the end. I couldn't see through my tears. I lost a friend in a car accident when I was 17...brought back memories of the day of the funeral. My friends and I standing in a circle, hugging, not wanting to let go...

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. It seems every year in my town there is a teen from the high school who dies tragically and every year I think to myself, "Please please don't ever let it be mine when he is older." It's awful. Terrible. It affects so many people. I can't fathom losing a child. I want to hug you and his mom and his girlfriend, and...just everyone

January Dawn said...

Thank you for all your lovely comments and thoughts and prayers everyone. xo

Kristin said...

I read this when you first linked up with Yeah Write, and I had no words. I still don't, really. But posting the creed is a help - "I believe everything happens for a reason." I don't believe that, but I do think it can be comforting. Or, at the very least, it can help our human minds start to piece together reasons for continuing on with our ability to have joy and love intact.

My closest friend lost her beloved brother in a car accident when she was 17. It took twenty years to not sink into depression every October. Care for yourself, of course, but also check in on the family - the sibling - for the next twenty years or so. It's a hard road.